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Women’s Rowing: Irish to compete in Tenn.

Cory Bernard | Thursday, March 10, 2011

After several months off, the Irish are eager for the return of warmer weather and warmer waters. Notre Dame will get both Sunday when it travels to Oak Ridge, Tenn. to take on Alabama and Minnesota.

The Crimson Tide possesses the advantage of climate, as they rowed outdoors in the colder months when lakes and rivers are frozen further north. The Golden Gophers also present a difficult challenge, having already defeated the Irish in a few races at the Head of the Rock Regatta in October.

Irish coach Martin Stone said his squad is looking forward to facing Minnesota again.

“I think they’re pretty solid,” he said of the Golden Gophers. “They got us pretty good up at the Head of the Rock so we’ll be interested to see how they race.”

Though forced inside for much of the offseason between the fall and spring seasons, the Irish delivered on some goals from 2010. Stone said the individual fitness aspect of winter workouts has yielded some impressive results.

“I think we’ve accomplished a lot of [our] goals,” Stone said. “We’re still doing testing this week. We’ve had some personal bests and people are working hard. I feel pretty good.”

According to Stone, boats have yet to be finalized because his staff does not yet have adequate racing experience on which to determine groupings. He said the lineups in Tennessee will almost certainly not be the same throughout the season.

“We’re just kind of subjectively putting people in boats based on how we think they’ll race,” he said. “I imagine things will change, though. We’ve been a long time out of the water and we still need to see how people perform.”

The Irish will bring a few proven commodities to Oak Ridge this weekend. Senior tri-captains Emily Crosby, Stephanie Gretsch and Carol Ann Michel all participated as members of the varsity eight boat in the fall. Stone said his squad can look to the entire senior class as models of success.

“As a whole, our senior class has done a wonderful job this year of doing everything the right way,” Stone said. “Emily, Stephanie and Carol Ann really just epitomize what the whole senior class has done for this program.”

The seniors will be expected to lead their team in their quest for the same goals the Irish have always had.

“In terms of performance-type goals, every year you are expected first to compete for you conference title, and then the national title,” Stone said. “I think it’s understood here.”

Notre Dame will remain in Oak Ridge over Spring Break to train and will face Buffalo on Saturday before heading home. Sunday’s action begins at 11 a.m.