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WOMEN’S ROWING: No. 16 crew team prepared to take on Spartans

Joe Meixell | Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The No. 16 Notre Dame women’s rowing team looks to overcome the inclement weather that plagued its races last week against Michigan State and produce strong finishes across the board.

The team was originally slated to take on the No. 4 Michigan Wolverines Saturday, but it was cancelled because of a frozen Wolverine lake. Irish coach Martin Stone then scheduled a match-up between Michigan State and Notre Dame.

The Irish faced the Spartans March 12, but the regatta was cancelled shortly after the start due to inclement weather conditions.

The Irish are not intimidated by the higher ranked Spartans.

“We only saw a little bit of them last weekend because there were only three races due to the weather,” Stone said of the Michigan State team. “We are training very hard this week to prepare for them.”

The races this weekend will be slightly different than usual.

“The normal race lengths of 2000 meters will be shortened, and it will be more of a scrimmage”, says Stone.

A harsh winter has not slowed down the Irish at all, as the team has been training harder than ever.

“We did a lot of rowing on the machines, along with a great deal of weight lifting, in addition to running and some yoga,” Stone said of the off-season. “I think physically we’re pretty strong going into this spring, better than we were last year.”

The first varsity eight is coming off a strong spring last year, finishing 11th in the NCAA Championships. The crew consists of coxswain Maureen Gibbons as well as rowers Allison Marsh, Melissa Felker, Amanda Polk, Mary Quinn, Sarah Palandech, Katie Chenaweth, Jessica Guzik and Rachel Polinski.

Things are still coming together for the first varsity eight, as the group has only rowed together competitively five times, but Coach Stone is confident in its performance.

The fall of 2004 marked the beginning of the Irish’s quest to return to the elite NCAA Championships, as well as a departure.

“We approached and did things differently last fall, so the result was not good or bad,” Stone said. “We have a young team, so everything is still coming together so far this spring.”

This young Irish squad is anchored by walk-ons who learned the ropes at Notre Dame to become varsity leaders. Last year’s NCAA varsity eight consisted of seven walk-ons out of the nine women rowers. The novice crews, positions limited to freshmen only, are made up almost completely of these non-scholarship athletes.