May 15, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -
For just the fifth time in program history and the first time since the 2007 season, the University of Notre Dame rowing team has been selected to race at the NCAA Championships, it was announced Tuesday by the NCAA. The championships runs May 25-27 on Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J.
"This is a phenomenal accomplishment on different layers," stated Irish head coach Martin Stone. "The women went out and worked extremely hard throughout the season. They raced well at critical times and threw down some great races. I'm very happy for the team that we are able to go and give it a shot amongst the very best teams in the country.
"On the level of the program, some of the stuff that we did this year was a result of what has gone on in the past and how our teams have performed. Even though we have not gone to the NCAAs in a while, I feel all the women who have been involved in our program are a part of it. They've helped shape us and put us in position and lay the foundation to have the speed we have this year."
Notre Dame returns to familiar water for the NCAA Championships, having just competed on Mercer Lake last Saturday as the team went on to claim its ninth consecutive BIG EAST Championship. It also is the second time the Irish will compete in the NCAA Championships on Mercer Lake, having finished ninth on its waters in the '06 season.
The Irish represent the lone BIG EAST team in the field. The Ivy League and Pac-12 led the way in the 16-team field, seeing five teams apiece selected, while the Big Ten (4) and Atlantic Coast Conference (1) rounded out the group of conferences represented. Joining the Irish at Mercer Lake are Brown, California, Cornell, Harvard, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Princeton, Stanford, Southern California, UCLA, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Yale.
This marks the first appearance at the NCAA Championships since '07 when the team earned a 12th-place finish with 13 points. The only other season in which Notre Dame qualified as a full team was in '06, when the squad placed ninth with 22 points, led by the varsity eight boat which won the petite final to place seventh overall.
Prior to automatically qualifying the varsity eight, second varsity eight and varsity four as a result of earning an NCAA Championships invitation, the Irish saw their varsity eight boat make individual appearances at both the '02 and '04 events, finishing 16th and 11th, respectively.
"I think our goals for the NCAA Championships follows the same thing that we've had going on all year," remarked Stone. "One, we want to represent the University, our program and our team in the best possible manner, on and off the water. And two, it's a similar type of focus that we had at the BIG EAST. We are just going to try and make our boats go as fast as we possibly can and whatever happens after that, goes."
The Irish get their competition underway at 9:30 a.m. (ET) Friday in the third heat of varsity eight action. Notre Dame will be rowing against California, Ohio State, Princeton, Wisconsin and Stanford in the race. The second varsity eight is slated to take to the water at 10 a.m. in the second of three heats, and will race against Michigan, Stanford, Yale and Virginia. The varsity four wraps up the first day of competition, running the third heat, which is scheduled for 11 a.m. against the likes of Ohio State, Wisconsin, Yale, Brown and USC.