After taking the baton handed over by Robyn Horner, head coach Megan Cooke Carcagno has one more regatta to set the tone for her squad before the Blue Devils put their competition boats away for the winter.
Although the real action for Duke’s crew starts in March, Cooke Carcagno and her rowers will hit the road to compete in the Rivanna Romp Sunday in Charlottesville, Va. The Blue Devils finish their fall slate facing the Cavaliers, two other conference foes, Pennsylvania, Old Dominion, Columbia and Oklahoma.
“Anytime that we go against our competitors in the ACC, I think it’s great competition,” Cooke Carcagno said. “We’re going to see Virginia again. They are setting the bar right now in terms of [speed, and] we’re going to get the chance to see Clemson and Louisville, so we’ll get to see a lot of people we’re facing in the spring. [Having an early look at these rivals] validates your training. Mostly, it validates why you’re getting up early, why you’re slugging out 40 [kilometers] on the erg.”
The Varsity Eight races start at 10 a.m. and the Varsity Four competitions begin 90 minutes later.
The Blue Devils opened their fall slate Nov. 1, with three varsity 8+ squads and five varsity 4+ boats racing at the Princeton Chase on Lake Carnegie, N.J. The varsity 4+ crew that registered the Blue Devils' best mark consisted of Phoebe Donovan, Jessica Findlay, Katherine Maitland, Simone Pitre and Isabel Ruby-Hill with a time of 17:29.372.
The varsity 8+ squad formed by Donovan, Findlay, Maitland, Pitre, Ruby-Hill, Katie Dukovich, Elizabeth Horne, Sophie Simister and Alex Stonehill finished 17th with a time of 15:31.203.
Sunday's race will help Cooke Carcagno apply the lessons learned in the Princeton Chase and continue to strengthen her bond with the Blue Devil rowers.
The Blue Devils will have a long break to prepare their spring slate, which starts March 19 with a scrimmage in Clemson, S.C. One week later, they will travel to Redwood Shores, Calif., to participate in the Pac 12 Challenge.
“I think all four of the classes have stepped up a ton,” Cooke Carcagno said. “The seniors are starting to really provide some solid leadership to the team. They were a little hesitant before. The freshmen have gotten so much better. They’re finally starting to get serious about what they are doing. We’re all in a very new position. The assistant coaches and myself, we’re all figuring out how this team is different from the team that we coached in the past. That’s been a little bit of a learning process but I’m really excited."