ACCs mark final race for seniors
Brett O'Connell | Friday, May 15, 2015
Though finals have passed and Commencement looms, the Irish still have unfinished business to take care of at the ACC championships on May 29.
After completing a series of regular season races, the Irish will spend the next two weeks preparing for their first ACC championship meet in Clemson, South Carolina. A conference championship would guarantee the Irish a bid in the NCAA tournament, though a successful performance could also land the squad an at-large bid in the tournament even without a first-place finish.
This postseason will cap what has been an incredibly successful four years for the Irish senior class, who have seen the program become a regular contender for a spot in the NCAA tournament.
Other accomplishments by the senior class include the naming of senior rower Anna Kottkamp as class of 2017 valedictorian and ACC Scholar-Athlete of the year.
“The senior class as a whole has done an awful lot,” Irish head coach Martin Stone said. “When they came in as freshmen, [the program] hadn’t been to the NCAAs in four years. They came in, and quite a few contributed to getting us there and getting us there in subsequent years.”
For a team as large as the Irish rowing squad, leadership from within plays an important role in a successful season, according to Stone. The rowing seniors have done a great job in keeping their teammates sharp and prepared for the challenges of a rigorous season, he said.
“Everybody’s taken various roles when something needs to be done,” he said. “Whoever is best in their skill set and has had the time to do it, they’ve taken over. That’s kind of how we operate — we have a large team. The seniors the last few years have addressed all of the areas together.”
Though the season and the school year have both rapidly come to their respective conclusions, the team’s practice routine has remained largely the same.
“There are a few things that we do differently,” Stone said. “We’re winding down so maybe the volume [of our practices] comes down a little bit. We do a little bit more speed work. Other than that we just continue with the same mindset. We try to make the boats go as fast as we can. There’s nothing that much different than what we normally do. Now that school is done, I think gives a little bit less stress on everybody.”
The ACC tournament takes place after Commencement, creating a series of emotional events for the seniors of the squad. Stone praised their involvement over the four years they’ve been on the team, citing their work ethic as a primary impetus for the team’s recent success.
“I think the team has done a very fine job this year,” Stone said. “The seniors, not only this year, but all through their career have done a phenomenal job to raise the level and speed of our program.”
The Irish rowers will practice through Commencement week, celebrating their seniors as they prepare to travel to Clemson for the ACC championships on May 29.