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ND Rowing: Team gets chance to host races

Matt Gamber | Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Last weekend represented the first opportunity for the Irish to compete on their home course since Oct. 29, 2005. And while the team said its final results could have been better, the long-awaited event itself lived up to its billing.

“It was really cool for all of us to have a race on our home course,” senior Casey Robinson said. “Rowing is definitely a lesser known sport here at school, so having family and friends be able to come down and see what we were doing was really great.”

The Irish hosted Indiana, Iowa and Michigan State as they concluded their fall season with races on both Saturday and Sunday. The event’s crowd was rather pro-Irish, team members said, but the three visiting teams also brought fans — some of whom created a tailgate-like atmosphere with RVs parked alongside the St. Joseph River in South Bend, where the race was held. Some dressed up for the Halloween holiday while others waved Irish flags to cheer on the host squad, Robinson said.

The race began where the Logan Street bridge crosses the river and finished near the Notre Dame dock near Notre Dame Ave. The weather conditions cooperated nicely Sunday, with sunny weather and flat water, which encouraged fans and bystanders alike to watch the races and cheer on Notre Dame, Robinson said.

“We know the river like the back of our hands, but it was such a different experience coming down this weekend,” Robinson said. “Pretty much at every major point on the river, there were at least 10 people yelling, ‘Go Irish,’ supporting us all the way down. It was a huge adrenaline rush, and it felt great to do that on our home course. It’s the river we row on every day, but there was such an energetic feel this weekend.”

Robinson said the team hopes it will have the opportunity to make the event an annual affair, and she cited the fan support as a good sign the program will be able to host additional races in the future.

“It brought us together as a team,” Robinson said. “Even though Sunday’s results weren’t as good as we hoped for, we did a good job, and we’ll just have to go faster next time.”

On Saturday, the boat including Rachel Louie, Christina Buckley, Stephanie Gretsch, Carol Ann Michel and Brittany Kelly finished first in the 13-boat race against Iowa and Indiana to highlight Notre Dame’s weekend. The Irish also had a second boat finish third in that race.