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Duke rowing wraps up first day at Head of the Charles with sixth-place finish

The Blue Devils are done with one race at the Head of the Charles and have two to go Sunday.
The Blue Devils are done with one race at the Head of the Charles and have two to go Sunday.

There is a celebration of sport in Boston this weekend, and Duke was invited. 

The rowing world is converging in Massachusetts Saturday and Sunday for the 53rd annual Head of the Charles race, arguably the most iconic North American rowing competition. Duke opened its season in Boston after scrimmaging North Carolina in a preseason Pride Race last week. High schools, colleges and club teams all join on the Charles River to show off their new lineups. Duke is coming off a fourth-place finish at the ACC championship last spring, so the races will be a good showcase of this year’s prospects.

The Blue Devils' collegiate/club 4 team finished in sixth place out of 53 teams Saturday afternoon, crossing the line with a time of 18:38.05 about 36 seconds behind first-place Alabama. Its champ 4 and champ 8 boats will both race Sunday afternoon.

“Two things for this weekend: number one: Let’s have fun and let’s go fast,” head coach Megan Cooke Carcagno said. “The focus for us is always in the spring so this is more of a celebration of the work they have done over the summer and the culture they are building so this won’t define our season, it is just a fun little checkmark to have on the calendar and to look forward to. It is also great to get that Duke uniform out there and get a bunch of people seeing us and excited for the spring season.” 

Duke will also have two alumni 8 boats on the water representing the university. 

“It is a head race, so all the boats start at one time, so it’s a single file, except for it’s not,” Cooke Carcagno said. “There is a bunch of crashing and bumping. It’s a windy course going down the Charles River. They go through bridges and archways. There are tons of teams on the water and spectators everywhere. It is kind of like demolition derby meets single-file race, so it’s cool.” 

The collegiate/club 4 included freshman coxswain Leeloo Gilet, Catherine Dana, Caitlyn Carlisle, Laura Navarrete and Katherine Lustig. The champ 4 includes sophomore coxswain Tara Fagan, sophomore Grace Garverick, juniors Sophie Simister and Rhea Bergman and senior Tara Christensen. The champ 8 includes senior coxswain Meagan Lew, seniors Sarah Fletcher, Taji Philips and Katherine Maitland, juniors Isabel Ruby-Hill, Shannon Tierney and Celia Macrae and sophomores Olivia Mendonca and Lelia Boley. 

This is the first Head of the Charles race for the Blue Devils since Cooke Carcagno took over in 2015. Cooke Carcagno led the V8 crew to a fourth-place showing at the ACC championship this past spring. Maitland received first-team CRCA Region 3 and first-team All-ACC honors, and Tierney was a second-team All-ACC selection. 

The senior class will look to capitalize on the success it has had under the new coaching staff, and the Head of the Charles represents the first step in that process. 

“The season is going really well. We are just pouring it on, we are really cranking away, tons of volume, tons of excitement,” Cooke Carcagno said. “I just feel like the team is on a really good spot.” 

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