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Duke rowing takes on top West Coast teams at Pac-12 Challenge

<p>The Blue Devils will head to the West Coast for a date with No. 9 Stanford and UCLA on the Redwood Shores Lagoon, the former home course of first-year Duke head coach Megan Cooke Carcagno.</p>

The Blue Devils will head to the West Coast for a date with No. 9 Stanford and UCLA on the Redwood Shores Lagoon, the former home course of first-year Duke head coach Megan Cooke Carcagno.

First-year Duke head coach Megan Cooke Carcagno has plenty of experience on the water at Redwood Shores Lagoon. As an All-American rower at California, she called the water home.

But on Saturday, Cooke Carcagno will watch her Blue Devils put their boats into the water as the visitors.

No. 20 Duke will take on No. 9 Stanford and UCLA Saturday in Redwood City, Calif., as the only East Coast school to take part in the Pac-12 challenge, with the first Blue Devil race of the day set to begin at 12:30 p.m. After a strong performance in the Carolina Cup last weekend that included four wins, Duke will be tested against some of the best crews on the West Coast.

"I'm very excited to be able to bring our seniors out to what was my home race course,” Cooke Carcagno said. “This will be a unique bonding experience for our team. This course shaped my experience as a rower and I hope it shapes our team for the remainder of the season."

At the Carolina Cup on Lake Hartwell in Clemson, S.C., the Blue Devils settled for second place—scoring 89 points to Clemson's 90 despite winning the varsity eight, second varsity eight and varsity four races. The varsity 8 beat the Tigers across the line by 4.5 seconds, and the varsity 4 coasted to a win with a time of 7:20.5, nearly 12 seconds ahead of second-place Clemson and nearly 20 seconds clear of third-place North Carolina.

To bring home a top finish against the Cardinal and Bruins, Duke will once again need strong performances from the entire team of boats. The varsity 8 boat features three freshmen, a representative snapshot of a Blue Devil team that is underclassman heavy. Cooke Carcagno’s squad features 11 newcomers this season but finds balance with three seniors in the varsity eight boat as well.

“We’re very excited to line up against Stanford and UCLA," Cooke Carcagno said. “They are two great teams and will give us a chance to test our speed against some West Coast powerhouses.”

No. 2 California, UC San Diego, Western Washington and UC Santa Barbara will also compete at the Pac-12 Challenge.

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