May 30, 2014
INDIANAPOLIS - The University of Notre Dame rowing team opened competition on Friday at the 2014 NCAA Championship with a total of three qualifiers for the A/B semifinal round at Eagle Creek Park.
The Irish varsity four placed in the top two of their preliminary heat to secure a direct berth into Saturday's A/B semifinal for the second straight season to close the morning racing session. Notre Dame's first and second varsity eight boats also posted top finishes in each of their afternoon repechage heats, allowing the Irish to qualify all three entries into the A/B semifinals for the first time since the NCAA Championship went to an all-team format in 2009.
"I thought that we rowed well this morning, and I thought we raced much better this afternoon," Notre Dame head coach Martin Stone said. "That has really how it has been since last Sunday morning, we just have progressively gotten better on each row, each outing, and I think that continued today. We are in a good place, and will continue to build.
"Tomorrow, we expect that it is going to be a barn-burner," he added. "We're in there (A/B semifinals), and we have a shot, so we survived, thrived and advanced. I thought the afternoon races were great. The 1V got out and controlled, the 2V did not get out as fast but really ran a smart and composed race, didn't get rattled, and some of the young people in those boats really brought it."
The Irish four boat crew of coxswain Mikaela Prego, Bailey Amenabar, Stella Willoughby, Emily Horton and Kelsey Sekanick clocked a runner-up time of 7:27.825 to finish just off the pace of heat winner Wisconsin (7:25.532). Louisville rounded out the event's top three teams with a final readout of 7:30.919. National No. 1 Ohio State, who held a sizeable lead at the halfway point of the race, ultimately finished sixth (8:56.792) after its boat experienced a mechanical problem.
"I think with the four, there was certainly some of `The Luck of the Irish' with that mishap with the Ohio State boat," Stone said. "We took advantage of it, and got through. We will take it."
No. 10 Notre Dame then punched its ticket to the A/B semifinals in the second heat of the afternoon first varsity eight repechage. Coxswain Christina Dines, Teresa Rubinger, Hilary Shinnick, Anna Kottkamp, Ailish Sheehan, Erin Boxberger, Molly Bruggeman, Courtney Gaberino and Joanna Mulvey clocked in with a time of 6:28.873 to outpace Indiana (6:30.424) for the top position in the repechage. The Irish opened the day with a third place result in first varsity eight racing, competing in a second heat that featured national top five teams Stanford (6:20.991) and Virginia (6:21.577). Notre Dame's time of 6:29.737 was enough to advance into Friday afternoon's second repechage heat.
The second varsity eight also qualified for an A/B semifinal following a strong performance in the second afternoon repechage lineup. Coxswain Alex Techar, Sarah Kappers, Carlee Beckler, Katie Skorcz, Alexis Olson, Elizabeth Kelley, Rose Doerfler, Ellen Gleadow and Kiersten DeHaven crossed the finish line in 6:36.450 to fend off a charging Washington State (6:38.717) for the race victory. Notre Dame logged a readout of 6:39.603 to place a competitive third behind national No. 2 Stanford (6:31.821) and Princeton (6:33.212) during the morning preliminary heat.
"For us, the (afternoon success) was what we needed to do," Stone said. "In the last few years, we have won in either eight, the 2V in 2012 missed the A/B semifinal by an unbelievably small amount. The varsity eight did as well. This year, there is none of that, we just went out and were determined to make it happen.
"Our expectations are to continue to race just a little bit better," Stone added. "Tomorrow will be the best race of the year, so we will see what happens. The championship has been so fast."
Notre Dame is scheduled to open A/B semifinal heats at 9 a.m. (ET) on Saturday, when the first varsity eight takes the water at Eagle Creek Park.
NCAA Women's Division I Varsity Eight Preliminaries, Heat 2
NCAA Women's Division I Varsity Eight Repechage, Heat 2
NCAA Women's Division I Second Varsity Eight Preliminaries, Heat 2
NCAA Women's Division I Second Varsity Eight Repechage, Heat 2
NCAA Women's Division I Varsity Four Preliminaries, Heat 3