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Duke rowing freshmen shine as novice boats earn top-5 finishes

<p>Duke rowing freshmen had a strong outing this weekend.</p>

Duke rowing freshmen had a strong outing this weekend.

With a third of the team competing in their very first collegiate competition, the Blue Devils raced their way into the top five for three of their 12 boats.

Duke traveled up to Princeton, N.J., this weekend to compete in the annual Princeton Chase. Five varsity eight-plus boats, five varsity four-plus boats, and two novice eight-plus boats competed on Lake Carnegie Sunday. Two of the three boats that finished in the top five were novice boats, as the freshmen rowers made their coach proud.

“Our freshman eights raced very well,”  head coach Megan Cooke Carcagno told GoDuke.com. “They hadn’t ever practiced their lineups, yet they went out with a mission and I think they should be proud.”

The top novice eight-plus boat included coxswain Eden Schumer, Sydney Johnson, Gabriella Salvati, Katarina Kern, Amelia Johnson, Olivia Von Stauffenberg, McKendree Densel, Elizabeth Butero and Amelia Shunk. With a time of 16:04.3, the crew raced its way into a second-place finish by just three seconds behind Princeton. The second novice eight-plus crew also had a successful outcome, coming in fourth place, only two spots behind their teammates in the A boat.

The Blue Devils in varsity boats had a broader range of finishes. However, there were still some impressive outcomes that came from the day, especially given that it’s so early in the season.

“At the varsity level, I think the best thing we saw was depth, and that’s something we’ve never seen as a program,” Cooke Carcagno said. “Of course, with that depth means selection can take a while, and I know there is more boat speed in every corner.”

Starting off the competition, Duke raced five varsity eight-plus boats. The top varsity eight-plus boat came in sixth place with a time of 14:44.6. The leading boat, which followed Princeton, Brown and Minnesota, included coxswain Tara Fagen, Sydney Johnson, Olivia Mendonca, Isabel Ruby-Hill, Shannon Tierney, Caitlyn Carlisle, Gabriella Salvati, Lelia Boley and Von Stauffenberg.

Next came the second crew in 13th-place with a time of 15:42.8, while the third and fourth came in 24th and 30th, respectively. The crew in the third varsity eight-plus boat had a time of 16:07.1, while the fourth crew had a time of 16:26.0. Finally, the last varsity eight-plus boat, the fifth crew, finished in 40th place with a time of 17:13.0.

Of the five varsity four-plus boats, one was able to snag a fourth-place title, behind boats from Princeton and Rutgers. The top varsity four-plus boat seated Fagan, Boley, Mendonca, Tierney and Ruby-Hill and finished with a time of 17:50.1. Nine seconds made a big difference in the competition, as the next Duke crew was seven boats behind.

Eleventh place was given to Duke’s second varsity four-plus boat, at 17:59.5, while 18th-place was given to the third varsity four-plus boat, at 17:59.5. Finishing in 29th and 35th were the fourth and fifth varsity four-plus boats, respectively.

“The best thing that came out of this weekend was that the team was in no way satisfied,” Cooke Carcagno said. “I could sense that from everyone, and that hunger to perform will carry us far.”

With the team heading over to another competition next weekend in Chattanooga, Tenn., they now have a better idea of what they need to improve on.

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