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Irish win final tune up before ACC championships

| Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Notre Dame picked up a win in its last regatta before the ACC championships over the weekend, taking home the Dale England Cup trophy.

Competing against a field that included No. 14 Indiana, the No. 17 Irish found themselves behind after the first day of racing. They needed a strong finish to compete for the title, and they found that finish by winning four of the final seven races Saturday afternoon. One of those races was the first varsity 8 boat, which Notre Dame took by just .85 seconds.

“In the Saturday afternoon session, what we did was switch up the first varsity 4 [boat] lineup after the second varsity 4 boat was putting up better times in the morning, so we were hoping to find some speed there, and Indiana made the same change, so we’re glad that paid off,” Irish head coach Martin Stone said. “For the second varsity 4 in the afternoon, we went with the lineup that raced well in California, hoping they could continue that. The varsity 8 [boat] was more about changing some strategy and seeing how we wanted to handle the situation, and fortunately we did a much better job, especially when Indiana made a strong charge late.”

Notre Dame narrowly came away with the trophy, winning on the second tiebreaker, which was the first varsity 8 boat race, to take first place. Notre Dame had tied with both Duke and Indiana at 108 points each. Navy came in fourth place with 39 points.

“I think this one was very big for us,” Stone said. “Our philosophy is to race tough teams, and this was no exception. We were facing tough competition, and I’m glad we could get through these teams, especially with the changes we made that had us competing well. Our confidence is better after that performance, and we definitely learned a lot from this weekend.”

Up next for the Irish will be a few weeks of training before heading off to Clemson, South Carolina, for the ACC championships, which begin May 13. With final exams coming up next week, the upcoming training takes some careful planning, according to Stone.

“We’ll keep up our typical training for the next few days until finals,” Stone said. “During finals, however, we’ll just go with some light training to keep the team in touch with the boat and oar. After that, we will have about five or six days of solid training before we head out for ACCs.

“The improvement over the course of the season has us feeling positive, but it’s been positive all along. It’s normal for our team to get better as the season goes on, and we’ve done a good job of focusing on the process. Our effort’s paying off, and it’s not easy coming off difficult races the past couple weekends, much like Indiana, so to come back and see the strong performances we put up is pretty special.”

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