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Back to the NCAAs

May 29, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT

This Year's First Varsity Eight boat will look to improve on last year's boat pictured here at the 2013 NCAA National Championship Regatta.

As my media relations cohorts prepare to travel down to Indianapolis to play co-host to the 2013 NCAA National Championship rowing regatta, I can’t help but feel a slight twist of deja vu. In 2012, Notre Dame’s rowing team headed out to the Championship regatta on Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J. The Irish were making just their fifth all-time appearance at this special race, and it was their first trip since 2007. Herein now is a look back on last year’s races as the team prepares for this weekend’s races.

After the first day of racing, Notre Dame’s first and second varsity eight boats narrowly missed advancing out of the repechage heats and into the semi-finals of their event. The first varsity eight boat, coxswained by Abby Meyers and consisting of Courtney Gaberino, Morgan Kelley, Stephanie O’Neill, Olivia Kacsits, Ailish Sheehan, Erin Boxberger and Molly Bruggeman, finished 15th in their first race with a time of 7:04.44. In the repechage heat (for all my non-rowers, a repechage heat is similar to a “last-chance” heat; the top three boats in the repechage heat advance into the semifinals of their event), the Irish were off the pace and finished seventh with a time of 7:07.98. The girls settled in for the third final race on Sunday May 27th, and took fourth in their heat (16th overall) at 6:40.33.

In the second varsity eight boat, coxswain Christina Dines, Ingrid Woelfel, Rose Doerfler, Anna Kottkamp, Paige Aiello, Kelsey Haddad, Teresa Blumenstein and Teresa Rubinger finished the prelim race in 14th with a 7:00.60 mark. In the repechage heat, they came exceedingly close to advancing into the semi-finals but sadly finished fourth at 7:01.08, .02 seconds slower than third-place Stanford’s boat. In the third finals race the Irish emerged victorious in their heat, speeding ahead of second-place Cornell in 6:47.00 over the 2,000-meter course.

Coxswain Danni Scheider, Joanna Poinsatte, Kelsey Sekanick, Katie Suyo and Stella Willoughby posted a 7:32.14 mark in the preliminary heat in the varsity four boat before claiming one of three final berths in the semifinal race with their 7:51.50 time in the repechage heat. On the second day they finished fifth in the first of two six-boat heats at 7:21.20. The Irish headed into day three looking to maintain the momentum and secure several points, but sadly finished second in their heat and eighth overall with a time of 7:25.35.

The Irish ended their East Coast trip in 15th place last year, with 20 points next to their name on the scoreboard. While it was an impressive finish for a team five years’ removed from participating in the Championship, those Irish competing at this year’s regatta will not be satisfied with the same results. 17 rowers and three coxswains have spent the past year training and pushing themselves to the brink, and with last year’s experience under their belt, nationally-ranked teams such as Boston University, Cornell, Harvard and Michigan will find the Irish boats tough competition at this year’s races.

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