For the first time in the program's 18-year history, the Blue Devils are heading to the NCAA championship.
No. 19 Duke was named as one of 11 at-large teams to the 22-team NCAA championship field Tuesday evening. The Blue Devils tied a program-best by finishing second at the ACC championship in Clemson, S.C., last weekend and will make their first-ever bid for the national championship May 27-29 on Lake Natoma in Gold River, Ca.
The strong postseason returns mark a drastic improvement for Duke in head coach Megan Cooke Carcagno’s first season. The Blue Devils rebounded from blowout losses against Virginia and Princeton—two top-10 programs—in dual meets to tie for first at the Dale England Cup in Bloomington, Ind., and finish second at the conference championship.
Cooke Carcagno’s impact on a Duke squad that finished seventh in the ACC last year did not go unnoticed, as she was named ACC Coach of the Year. Senior rowers Katie Dukovich and Alex Stonehill and coxswain Simone Pitre were named All-ACC performers following the event as well.
The three boats the Blue Devils will take to NCAAs have gained momentum in recent weeks.
The V4 boat, featuring seniors Sarah Wall and Mary Wilson, sophomore Sarah Fletcher and freshmen Rhea Bergman and Marissa Donadio won a team-high five races this season.
The V8 boat has seen different personnel throughout the season, but came together late in the year, winning all of its races in Bloomington and placing second at ACCs.
Like the V8, the 2V8 took second in Clemson by a narrow margin.
Duke will be joined at the NCAA championship by No. 5 and ACC champion Virginia, three-time defending national champions and No. 3 Ohio State and 19 other programs as the Blue Devils look to make their mark in their first appearance at the event.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.