Seniors have one last chance at qualifying for NCAAs
BY CHRISTINE ARMSTRONG
A team qualification for the NCAA Championships would a perfect graduation gift for seniors Ashlee Warren, Casey Buckstaff, Andrea Amoni, Rebecca Campbell, Erica Drennen, Cassie Markstahler, Katie McCalden and Kerri Murphy.
Last year the Irish varsity eight received its first invitation to the NCAA Rowing Championships, where it placed 16th. But this year the senior rowers have focused on team eligibility.
From the start of the 2002-03 season, it was clear that these seniors would be excellent role models for underclassmen both on the water and in the classroom. In 2002, Warren became the first rower in the program's history to be named a Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association All-American and was also a second-team all-region honoree.
Last year, rising seniors Natalie Ladine and Cassie Markstahler were named to the CRCA National Scholar-Athlete team. The seniors have consistently led the team to impressive performances this season, and Saturday's races in the invitation-only 2003 Windermere Cup on Lake Washington in Seattle were no exception.
The No. 24 Irish raced well against several high-caliber teams, such as the Belarus, Washington, Washington State and Oregon State crews, who joined over 100,000 fans to commemorate Washington's centennial year of rowing and to mark the opening of Washington's yacht season. The Irish varsity eight placed third in its race, the second eighth finished fourth in their race and the varsity took third. Notre Dame hopes these strong finishes will help them as they look to advance to the NCAA Championships later this season.
In the Windermere Cup, the Belarus boat won in 6:46.45. At last year's 2002 World Championships in Seville, Spain, three of Belarus' rowers finished fifth. The two-time defending national champions Washington crew finished second in 6:47.61, while coxswain Cassie Markstahler, Natalie Ladine, Warren, Casey Buckstaff, Rachel Polinski, Alice Bartek, Meghan Boyle, Katie Chenoweth, Danielle Protasewich led Notre Dame's boat to a third-place finish in 7:00.62.
On May 17 and 18, the Irish will race at the 2003 Central Regions in Oak Ridge, Tenn., where they placed fourth in the team competition last year. A strong finish will hopefully propel Notre Dame towards another berth in the NCAA Championship.
All Sports Stories for Friday, July 11, 2003