The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Big East title at stake for Irish

Joe Meixell | Friday, April 23, 2004

The No. 17 Irish will head to Massachusetts this weekend, competing first in Saturday’s regatta against Boston University and Northeastern in Boston. They will then travel to Worcester to compete in Sunday’s Big East Rowing Challenge.

At the fourth annual Big East competition, Notre Dame will battle Syracuse, Boston College, Connecticut, Georgetown, Miami, Rutgers, Villanova and West Virginia on Worcester’s Lake Quinsigamond. The Irish are determined to dethrone the reigning champions, the Orangewomen of Syracuse.

“We’re getting pumped up to face the competition, especially Syracuse,” Alice Bartek said. “We’re working on fine tuning our rowing, and improving just a little bit on every stroke. The margin of difference between teams at the top is not a lot, so even a little bit of improvement goes a long way.”

The Irish have a history of falling second to Syracuse. In the 2001 Big East Challenge, the No. 18 Irish won two silver and two bronze medals as the novice eight and the second varsity eight placed second. The first varsity eight and varsity four boats took third place. However, the impressive showing was not enough to overcome Syracuse and the Irish took second place overall.

At the 2002 Big East Challenge, No. 10 Notre Dame won the varsity four races but Syracuse once again dominated the regatta. The Orangewomen took first, leaving the Irish second again. The Notre Dame boats had an equally frustrating experience at the 2003 Big East Challenge. The No. 24 Irish won the second varsity eight and the varsity four earned a silver medal but the Irish lost to Syracuse by a mere two points in the overall competition.

Notre Dame boats have fared well this season, despite a challenging schedule consisting of races against several of the nation’s best teams, including California, Washington, Tennessee, Washington State, Southern California and Michigan State.

A win this weekend could put the Irish in a good position for a much-coveted NCAA bid.

“We have lost by less than 10 points the past three years to Syracuse,” Katie O’Hara said. “I think our team has grown to the point where no one will let that happen again.”