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Women’s Crew: Rowers head to first-ever Cal-Sag Shootout

Sam Werner | Friday, November 2, 2007

Notre Dame will enter uncharted waters this weekend when it competes at the inaugural Cal-Sag Shootout in Blue Island, Ill.

The Irish have high hopes for the four varsity and two novice boats that enter this new – and slightly unusual – event.

The format for the Cal-Sag Shootout differs slightly from a traditional regatta. All boats will enter a five-kilometer race Sunday. The top two boats from each school, along with the next six boats with the top times, will then enter a two-kilometer sprint in the afternoon. Each of the five heats will consist of four boats, with the seeds based solely on the morning times.

Irish coach Martin Stone is excited about the new setup.

“It’s a unique format,” Stone said. “But I think it’s going to be pretty neat.”

The Blue Island venue itself is also unique. Hosted by the Chicago Rowing Center, the event will take place with the Chicago skyline in the backdrop and stadium seating along the course.

“It’s a really neat venue,” Stone said. “The head race course should be fine, and the two-kilometer will be a sort of test race to see if we could have an event here in the spring.”

Stone was confident his coxswains would have no problem navigating a new course.

“They’ve seen an overview of the course,” Stone said. “It’s sort of a trial by fire, but we have very smart and savvy coxswains. I’m definitely not concerned.”

In addition to an unfamiliar course, Notre Dame will face stiff competition from the other boats, including a Michigan squad that finished third at last year’s Head of the Charles event. Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa and Indiana will also compete.

“The fall season is really just preparation for the spring,” Stone said. “We’re just figuring things out now, and things definitely change in a month.”

No matter what boats his team uses, Stone was optimistic about Notre Dame’s chances this weekend.

“I don’t know exactly how we’ll stack up, but we’ve done a good job [in practice].” Stone said. “We’ve been moving the boats well, and the intensity and effort have been fantastic.

“It’d be great if we could get all four varsity eights into the two-kilometer. We’re looking to come out and race really hard with great intensity to go into winter training.”