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Duke rowing takes on No. 3 Cavaliers at Virginia Duals

<p>Duke's varsity eight boats will aim to bounce back from losses to Stanford and UCLA last month, but will have to do so against No. 3 Virginia Saturday.</p>

Duke's varsity eight boats will aim to bounce back from losses to Stanford and UCLA last month, but will have to do so against No. 3 Virginia Saturday.

After attempting to conquer the west in their last race, the Blue Devils now head north in pursuit of Virginia.

Duke travels to Earlysville, Va., Saturday to take on the No. 3 Cavaliers on the Rivanna Reservoir. Following a solid performance against UCLA and then-No. 9 Stanford in last week’s Pac-12 Challenge, the Blue Devils are looking to build on an encouraging start for a young team.

“We’re training really hard,“ Duke head coach Megan Cooke Carcagno said. “We’re putting in a lot of miles every week. We’re finding our stroke and we’re figuring out who we are as a team. Going up against Virginia is never an easy task, but you never know where you are until you measure yourself up against the best.”

The varsity four boat delivered the top performance for the Blue Devils on the West Coast, headlined by freshmen Celia Macrae and Julia Weber as well as upperclassmen Sarah Wall, Mary Wilson and Sarah Fletcher. The V4 boat crossed the finish line in the morning race with a time of 7:21.5, more than 11 seconds ahead of UCLA’s boat.

But the growing pains of a young team were also visible, as the Blue Devils could not secure a top finish for the rest of the day. In the afternoon races, the V4 squad that bested UCLA stopped the clock 15 seconds after Stanford had already crossed the finish line. The varsity eight boat, the main event, fell by six and eight seconds to UCLA and Stanford, respectively.

“Going up against two really good teams is a hard challenge,” Cooke Carcagno said. “Being a little bit of an underdog is a process that we have to face and figure out a little bit better to be a little more mature in our racing.”

Virginia is coming off of 10 race victories against then-No. 3 Ohio State, then-No. 7 Michigan and Michigan State—all squads that Cooke Carcagno knows well from her time as an assistant at Wisconsin—in Columbus, Ohio, last week. The second varsity eight boat for the Cavaliers won ACC Crew of the Week honors for their performance against the Buckeyes, Wolverines and Spartans, clocking times of 6:30.8 and 6:46.2 in its two races.

“The only thing that we can control is our own boat, our own gunwales and the way that we approach racing,” Cooke Carcagno said. “I know that our team is going to put forth what they can control.”

The Blue Devils are in action all day Saturday.