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Rowing: Irish look solid in tune-up regatta

Joe Meixell | Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Despite victories against Brown, Minnesota and Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio, over the weekend, Irish coach Martin Stone described his squad as “not up to speed.”

No. 18 Notre Dame fared well in the afternoon, capturing two race victories and improving on five of the six race times from the morning session.

Stone praised the second varsity eight, who were able to improve from their third place finish in the morning session to second in the afternoon, shaving five seconds off their time to clock in at 6:36. The Irish lost only to No. 3 Brown, by four seconds, and bested No. 20 Minnesota by 14 seconds.

The second novice eight also impressed, pulling off first-place finishes in the morning over No. 15 Ohio State and in the afternoon over Minnesota. That squad also improved its time from 7:11 in the morning to 7:04 in the afternoon.

The other squads were not as lucky, and although Stone “made some changes” and saw improvement, the first and second varsity fours could manage no better than third-place finishes in the morning and afternoon.

The first varsity four fell to Brown and Ohio State with a time of 7:24, and then in the afternoon session to Brown again and Minnesota. The second varsity four lost to the same crews in each session. The first varsity eight was beaten by Ohio State and Brown in the morning, and Brown and Minnesota in the afternoon. The Irish clocked in at 6:31 and 6:27, respectively.

Stone said the “very good” competition had much to do with the finish, and he said he still believes the two varsity four boats could be competitive in the future.

Stone was pleased with the performances of the first novice eight, however, who grabbed a victory in the afternoon session over Minnesota after falling to Ohio State in the morning. He described the novice boats as showing “a lot of promise.”

Looking forward to the coming Big East championships, Stone was cautiously optimistic about the tournament that his team was able to sweep all six races in last year. The Irish will be looking for their sixth straight Big East Championship, and Stone said it would be “tough to be great” in all six races as they were last year.

He mentioned Louisville and Syracuse as two teams that could dethrone the Irish and keep them from another Big East crown.

In regard to winning all six races, he said that if it did not happen, it would not be from lack of talent.

“Could it happen? Sure,” Stone said. “Can I guarantee it? Of course not, but we have a good shot in all the races.”