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Notre Dame gains confidence at Lake Natoma Invitational

| Wednesday, April 20, 2016

No. 18 Notre Dame traveled to sunny Sacramento, California, over the weekend to compete in the Lake Natoma Invitational.

The Irish faced six ranked teams including No. 1 Brown, No. 2 California and No. 7 Stanford throughout their eight Saturday races and three Sunday races.

Notre Dame had not raced in three weeks due to inclement weather conditions, which forced the cancellation of the Big Ten-ACC Double Duel in Bloomington, Indiana, on April 2. Irish head coach Martin Stone said the break in play led to improvement through preparation and training for the team.

“I think [the break] helped us a little bit,” Stone said. “It allowed us to prepare maybe a little bit better. It allowed us to change kind of our training and what we were doing, and there’s always with long layoffs a little bit of a down part — like are we going to forget how to race? — but I think, for the most part, we handled that very well, and I think that our starting morning race was pretty good.”

On Saturday, the second varsity eight achieved a pair of second-place finishes with times of 6:32.72 and 6:39.35. The first came against California and No. 16 Iowa, while the second was versus Stanford and No. 12 Wisconsin. Stone said the boat had an outstanding weekend overall.

“The second varsity [eight] had a really good weekend,” Stone said. “Came up a little bit short on Sunday, but they raced well Saturday morning, raced well again Saturday afternoon and then, I think, raced well but not great on Sunday.”

The first varsity four did not find as much success in its races, as it finished in third place in both its morning race against the Golden Bears and Hawkeyes and evening race versus the Cardinal and Badgers.

Notre Dame’s first varsity eight, however, had a little more success with a second-place finish — and a time of 6:29.67 — while squaring off with California and Iowa. It later recorded a third-place mark against Stanford and Wisconsin.

Notre Dame’s final boat, the second varsity four, also had a second-place finish followed by a third-place result. In the first race, it finished with a time of 7:28.80 against Brown and Gonzaga. In the last race of the day, it improved its time to 7:28.17, but fell back one spot while contending against California and Brown.

On day two, the Irish improved their times across the board from Saturday’s races.

The first varsity four finished fourth in the morning against No. 15 Gonzaga, Wisconsin and Iowa, but it lowered its time to 7:31.25.

The second varsity eight competed next against the same three teams and earned a second-place finish with a time of 6:31.10.

In another race featuring the Irish, Bulldogs, Badgers and Hawkeyes, Notre Dame’s first varsity eight took a third-place finish with a time of 6:22.88 to close out the regatta.

Stone said his team’s ability to compete well with highly-ranked teams gives it some confidence for the future.

“It gives us a little bit of confidence, but still there’s a long way to go,” Stone said. “Our goal is to do well at the ACC [Championships] and get to the NCAAs, so those are two things still sitting out there that we’re trying to make happen.”

Notre Dame finishes its regular season at the Dale England Cup Regatta in Bloomington, Indiana, which begins on Friday.

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