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CLUB SPORTS: Irish spring teams wrap up regular seasons

Special to The Observer | Tuesday, May 1, 2007

SailingFor the first time in over a decade, Notre Dame qualified for the National Championships by finishing second in a tough 11-team field to earn one of two automatic bids. The Irish fought tough battles in both divisions. In the ‘A’ division Saturday, Irish skipper John Dailey began with crew Ali Donahue. But as the breeze built, heavier crews Jaci Chase and Joe Peris rotated in to help deal with the 20-knot winds. ‘B’ Division skipper Tim Roy began Saturday’s racing sailing with Kerry Kilbourn, but went to the heavier Chris May as the day progressed. At the conclusion of first day, Notre Dame held second, with Northwestern, Michigan Stat, and Minnesota all close enough to make a move Sunday. Racing Sunday was postponed until mid-morning due to lack of wind. When the breeze filled to eight to 12 knots, the Irish skippers went back to their light air crews. In the final ‘A’ division race, Dailey and Donahue used their superior speed to overcome questionable tactical decisions and finish second. Roy and Kilbourn won the final ‘B’ division race, easily holding the lead from the beginning.The Irish finished second behind Wisconsin, holding off Minnesota by seven points. Northwestern and Michigan rounded out the top five finishers.

CyclingNotre Dame headed south to Morgan-Monroe State Forest, Ind., this weekend for the Midwest Collegiate Cycling Conference championships, and secured starting spots for the USA Cycling Collegiate National Championships. Junior Matt Prygoski also earned an individual conference championship.A 12-mile team time trial and a road race were held Saturday The road race finish was on top of Bean Blossom Hill, rated the toughest climb in Indiana by Bicycling magazine. In the men’s ‘B’ race, Ty Baker competed and finished with the pack. Meghan Johnson and Jenn Perricone lined up for the elite women’s ‘A’ race. Johnson finished outside of placing, and Perricone came just short of scoring points in 21st place.Andy Steves, Matt Prygoski, Mike Lavery, Neil Griggs and Tim Campbell took the line in the 65-rider, 60-mile ‘A’ race field. The race consisted of four laps of a 15-mile circuit, requiring the riders to climb Bean Blossom four times during the race along with another tough climb in the middle of the course. Campbell kept the Irish represented in breaks that attempted to escape the peloton, but none of them managed to stay away. This allowed the rest of the Irish team to rest inside the peloton and exhibit their climbing skills for the hill finish. Prygoski came on strong for a fifth place finish. Lavery was caught behind a slow group but still placed 15th, with Griggs close behind at 18th. Campbell was forced off the road into a ditch before the climb and finished with Steves, both a minute off the lead. Prygoski, Girggs, Lavery and Campbell started the 12-mile time trial also. The course was difficult, being primarily uphill and into the wind. Speeds were slow for the ‘A’ teams and the Irish hit the time checks ahead of the competitors. Unfortunately for the Irish, time trial specialist Mike Lavery’s chain malfunctioned, causing the rest of the team to take off without him. Without Lavery’s power sticks, the team slowed and limped into an eighth place finish.A mile loop at a small park in Mooresville, Ind,, was host to Sunday’s criterium.Baker signed in for the Men’s B race and rode aggressive early, but fell to the back of the peloton and finished outside of placing. Perricone and Johnson started the Women’s ‘A’ criterium and fell off the fast pace early. They chased hard, but were pulled towards the end of the race and unable to finish. Campbell, Steves and Prygoski took the line in the 65-minute elite men’s ‘A’ criterium. Prygoski took 10th, while also collecting a prime sprint and securing his spot as the top rider in Notre Dame’s division. Steves raced well, finishing 16th, with Campbell behind him just outside of placing.

Men’s RowingBased on its performance through this past weekend, all five of Notre Dame’s boats qualified for the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships. This past weekend’s Indianapolis Collegiate Invitational was an ECAC qualifying regatta, and the Irish turned in stellar performances.Radhika Deva raced the varsity-four with Taylor Donaldson, Josue Rodriguez, Craig Wiborg and Tomas Castillo, and earned a fourth-place finish during the morning heats, qualifying for the petite finals.Notre Dame’s top novice boat barely missed qualifying for the grand finals, taking fourth in a tightly contested race. Julie Lambe’s second varsity-eight qualified for the afternoon grand finals by finishing fourth in their morning heat.Lambe’s crew finished just over two seconds behind two Michigan boats and a Minnesota boat. The varsity-eight crew also qualified for the grand finals by taking third in their heat, behind Marietta and Purdue. The first final of the afternoon was the second novice-eight, which earned a fifth-place finish in its final. Deva’s varsity-four (7:26.1) dominated the four-boat petite finals, putting nearly nine seconds between themselves and second-place Northwestern (7:34.9). The first novice eight also won their petite final over Dayton, Miami, Butler and Northwestern.

UltimateThis weekend Notre Dame traveled to Rantoul, Ill., to compete in the Great Lakes Regional Tournament of the UPA College Series to compete for a spot at the national championships.The Irish were the seventh seed in the 16-team field, but failed to qualify for nationals after two losses in the double elimination tournament.Play started Saturday with a rematch against sectional opponent Northwestern. Notre Dame had lost to the No. 10-seed Wildcats two weeks ago. Notre Dame came out firing with strong offensive play from sophomore Daniel Reimer and took an early 8-3 halftime lead. But Northwestern responded in the second half with added intensity. Notre Dame kept its composure and held on for a 17-15 win.The next game was against second-seeded Illinois, who had defeated the Irish in the sectional finals. The Irish fell behind early on sloppy play, eventually losing 15-5 despite strong scores from captain Steve Kurtz.Notre Dame entered its match with No. 16 Ohio Northern, which just came off an upset win. The Irish started off strong with solid handler play from junior Mike Florack and sophomore Thomas Rivas, cruising to a 15-3 win.In Notre Dame’s next game, Miami came out with intensity and took an early 5-1 lead. Notre Dame then began to dominate on both offense and defense and slowly took control of the game. Miami could not recover as the Irish went on to capture a 15-8 win.Sunday morning saw the Irish challenge top-seeded Ohio State. Inspired play by the Irish led to an 8-6 lead at the half. But the Buckeyes controlled the second half and prevailed 15-10, despite strong play from Chris O’Neill.Notre Dame finished tied for fifth in the conference, ending the season with a 32-19 record. This weekend, the Notre Dame women team played in their Regional qualifying tournament in Rantoul, Ill. The tournament featured the top 12 teams in the Great Lakes region, with the winner of this tournament advancing to the Ultimate Players Association National Championship in Columbus, Ohio.Notre Dame played in five games Saturday during pool action. The wind proved to be a tough opponent all day, with upwind break points the difference in many games. Notre Dame went 3-2 on the day, beating Wheaton 9-3, Oberlin 11-6, and North Park 11-6. The toughest games for the Irish were against Illinois and Ohio. Notre Dame faced Illinois first, a team with a significant height advantage that had shut down the Irish throughout the season. The Irish kept the game close and were tied 9-9 as the game neared its cap at 11. But Illinois scored a final upwind point and the subsequent downwind to take the game 11-9.Notre Dame entered Sunday’s bracket seeded third and slotted to play Northwestern – another section rival and frequent opponent. The teams had met twice in the Sectional tournament two weeks prior, with Northwestern winning both matches. Notre Dame came out strong, keeping the game close early. Notre Dame took the first half 8-7 and struck first after the break. Northwestern threw a zone that shook up the Irish, shifting the momentum away from Notre Dame. The Irish lost 15-10 to Northwestern, who then went on to defeat Illinois and Michigan to take the Regional Championship and the Great Lakes bid to Nationals.