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Duke rowing turns in improved times at Rivanna Romp to close fall season

<p>The Blue Devils' top varsity eight boat shaved more than two minutes off its time from the Princeton Chase Sunday morning at the Rivanna Romp.</p>

The Blue Devils' top varsity eight boat shaved more than two minutes off its time from the Princeton Chase Sunday morning at the Rivanna Romp.

Duke went to Charlottesville, Va., and returned with its best finish yet to finish its fall slate.

The Blue Devils finished with a top-three finish in the varsity eight and two top-10 finishes in the varsity four at the Rivanna Romp Sunday morning. The regatta featured seven teams, including ACC rivals Virginia, Louisville and Clemson.

Duke competed with eight boats total—three in the varsity eight and five in the varsity four.

In the varsity eight, pacing—a weakness for Duke during the Princeton Chase Nov. 1—ended up being a strength for the Blue Devils. From the first stroke, they matched the pace and level of intensity set by the competition, and Duke’s A boat crossed the line with a time of 13:21.9—good for third place.

Seniors Simone Pitre, Alex Stonehill and Katie Dukovic, juniors Phoebe Donovan and Elizabeth Horne, sophomores Katherine Maitland and Jessica Findlay and freshmen Isabel Ruby-Hill and Sophie Simister put to use the lessons learned from their 15:31.2 finish in Princeton, cutting more than two minutes off their time.

“[Coming out aggressive was] something that we weren’t able to do two weeks ago,” Duke head coach Megan Cooke Carcagno said. “They were more aggressive, their rate was higher, their attitude was better. They were just smarter, and it got them what they deserved”

The Blue Devil B team in the varsity eight had a solid showing as well, finishing 12th with a time of 14:07.6. Duke’s C team finished in 17th place, stopping the clock in 14:36.3.

Duke’s varsity eight boats are young and looking to gain experience, which they got by going up against top competition Sunday.

“Every single time they go hands-on, they learn something,” Cooke Carcagno said. “They went out there and did exactly what I wanted them to do.”

This regatta was also a good opportunity for the Blue Devils to gain experience against their ACC foes. Virginia took the top two spots in the varsity eight as well as fifth and sixth, and Louisville came in just less than 10 seconds behind Duke's top boat.

“[Getting a look at ACC competitors] was great. We got to race a lot of the teams that we will be seeing at the end of the year,” Cooke Carcagno said. “It was very helpful. Overall, it was a great experience and the competition was perfect.”

In the varsity four, the crews followed the same advice given to them when racing the varsity eight, and it paid off. Duke’s A boat—consisting of Pitre, Ruby-Hill, Donovan, Maitland and Findlay—finished with a time of 15:03.6, while the B boat finished in 15:25.4. Those times were good for two top-10 finishes—fifth and ninth, respectively.

Duke’s E boat crossed the line next for the Blue Devils, finishing 20th with a time of 16:16.2. The C boat was less than a second behind them, finishing in 21st place and crossing the finish line in 16:16.8. The D boat was the last Duke crew to finish with a time of 16:28.8, good for 24th place out of 26 boats.

Sunday's race ended the Blue Devils’ fall competition. The team now has winter training, which will help the team become better and faster for spring competition.

“[This regatta] gave us the energy to move into winter training,” Cooke Carcagno said. “It also gave us the confidence to know that the training we're doing is working.”

Duke’s spring competition begins March 19 with the Carolina Cup, a scrimmage in Clemson, S.C.