Lawrence University crew moves to the national stage Fri., June 1 in Cherry Hill, N.J. This will mark the first time in school history that a boat was sent to the IRA National Championships – a remarkable feat for the team considering only six schools are invited to nationals. That’s right, six. I’m not talking about the college basketball tournament with 64 schools or even the 16 teams that play in the Lacrosse Intercollegiate Associates National Championship. I’m talking about the half-dozen schools invited each year to the IRA National Championships. Although Lawrence will be racing against some very popular schools, they are not intimidated. They will be facing Duquesne University, UW-Madison, Princeton, Georgetown and Radcliffe, which is the women’s team from Harvard. I’m assuming most people will have heard of at least five of the schools at next weekend’s national championships. The women in the boat at next week’s national championships include their coxswain Rachel Payne, a sophomore. Sitting in the bowseat is sophomore Stephanie Martin. Another freshman, Heidi Quist, will take stroke. In the 2 position is senior Kristina Nockleby, and junior Megan Whitmore is in the 3 position. Lawrence women’s head coach Bryan Schnettler and the rowers are not ones to back away from competition. “Whenever this boat pulls up to the line they expect to be in contention to win. This race is no different regardless of who we are racing, or how big of a stage it is,” spouts a confident coach. “We feel if we set our goals any lower we would be selling ourselves short.” Nockleby takes a lot of pride in the current success of the team, as she has been around longer than anyone and has seen the team drastically improve. “I’ve watched our whole team get better and better every year. In the last two years we’ve been able to produce two, three boats that can hold their own against the big schools with more money.” Nockleby doesn’t think the race will complicate academics, even though the national championships are held across the country two days before finals. The demanding rowing schedule throughout the year has prepared the women to stay on top of schoolwork. “We’ll just have to be a little more organized by Wednesday when we leave for New Jersey since a lot of us are turning in final projects and papers a few days early,” Nockleby said. Whatever the outcome of next week’s national championships, the women should be proud. To finish in the top six is a feat that the Lawrence crew team has never experienced. However, these two facts do not stop Coach Schnettler from setting his sights high. “We will be traveling to New Jersey with the idea of coming back with gold.