After their strongest showing of the year in Indiana, the Blue Devils will return to the Northeast for a top-20 matchup against Princeton.
No.19 Duke will travel to Princeton, N.J., to take on the No. 9 Tigers Saturday in a race that will once again pit the Blue Devils against an established program. Coming off a tie for first place at the Dale England Cup last week, Duke has reached its highest spot in the polls this year ahead of their final regular season meet.
Ahead of the ACC championship in Clemson, S.C., May 13, the Blue Devils will look to build on its momentum in familiar territory. Duke competed on Princeton's Lake Carnegie once already this season in November's Princeton Chase preseason rase.
“I think they’re going to [have] a lot of confidence.” Duke head coach Megan Cooke Carcagno said. “The training program has been coming together, they’ve been putting in a ton of miles and I think we’re starting to see the fruits of our labor which is really exciting… Princeton is a great team and if we show up and we race them all the way down the line, we’re a great team too.”
In an earlier dual against top-10 competition, the Blue Devils struggled. Duke failed to win a single race against then-No. 3 Virginia, and found itself on the losing end of some very lopsided races.
But Cooke Carcagno’s squad rebounded just two weeks later by tying then-No. 17 Notre Dame and then-No. 14 Indiana at the Dale England Cup, losing the outright victory on a tiebreaker despite winning the most races of any team.
“Going into Virginia we were still figuring a lot of things out,” Cooke Carcagno said. “We were still working on our confidence and working on being ready. The team’s gone a long way in two weeks, so I think we’re going to show up and really race them.”
The underclassman-heavy Blue Devils with their first-year head coach face an established program in Princeton, one routinely ranked in the top 10 in the nation and on the recruiting trail. The Tigers recently had two members of their 2006 national championship-winning team named to the U.S. Olympic team. By contrast, Duke has only had a rowing program since 1996 and returned to square one when the architect of that program, former head coach Robyn Horner, retired before Cooke Carcagno’s arrival.
“It’s been so much work, but all of it has felt with purpose and that we’re moving” Cooke Carcagno said. “It’s like moving an iceberg, or a huge rock up a hill. It’s a tremendous amount to get it going but it’s going. Now we’re getting to the point where we can just tap it along here and it’s exciting to see us get ranked nationally and consistently now…. That’s culture and that’s something that we’re excited to have started here”
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