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Rowing cruises past Tar Heels

The Duke women's rowing team finally got their oars wet in 2004. After sitting idle from competition since November, the Blue Devils returned to the water to knock off the rival Tar Heels in seven-of-eight races Saturday at Lake Michie.

   

    "We enjoy our annual dual with North Carolina," head coach Robyn Horner said. "We were anxious for the opportunity to test our speed this early in the season."

   

    Indeed, there was little disappointment from the performance of Duke's varsity eight, led by coxswain Kareen Murray, Amanda Adam, Amber Straight, Natalie Zervs, Mae Joyce Gay, Emma Darling, Corbin Dunlap, Krista Harryman, and Christine Lauro. While steadily lowering its time as the regatta went on, the varsity squad beat UNC in three out of four races in the choppy waters of the lake.

   

    Going into the final round, the lowest time of the day was posted by UNC at 7:32.06, but the Blue Devils were determined to end strong. The Duke varsity eight would not be denied as it edged the Tar Heels time by only a second.

   

    "Saturday was a great example of the mental toughness of the team," said Murray. "Our technique has improved drastically since last season, and this will help us out tremendously this current year."

   

    Freshman and varsity eight member Amber Straight echoed Murray's sentiments about the team.

   

    "We have been working very hard on integrating our coach's new technique into our program," she said. "Girls come from all over the country with different styles so it is important to use the same form as everyone else. Looking at the two boats, you could tell we were more put together than Carolina."

   

    The Blue Devil second varsity eight also had a strong debut sweeping North Carolina in all four of its 2000m races. The Duke boat silenced the Tar Heel team, beating them by an average margin of five seconds per race. In a closely contested third race, the second varsity team posted its lowest time of the day at 7:45.25 to leave North Carolina in its wake.

   

    "We are going to have a great season--this is an indicator of what is to come," Murray said, referring to the varsity team's overall strength.

   

    Unfortunately, the Blue Devil novices had a rough start as they lost all of their races against both UNC novice boats.

However, both Duke varisty and novice squads, set to battle ACC opponent Virginia this Saturday, retain optimism about the impending season.

   

    "While we met our expectations against North Carolina," said Straight. "We definitely have more potential. We have our eyes set on making it to the NCAA championships this season--something I am confident we can do."

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