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No. 14 Duke rowing rides impressive first day to take bronze at ACC Championships

Duke earned top-three finishes in five races on the first day of the ACC Championships at Lake Wheeler in Raleigh.
Duke earned top-three finishes in five races on the first day of the ACC Championships at Lake Wheeler in Raleigh.

Every team dreams of vying for a championship trophy, but few have the chance to race for glory in front of a hometown crowd. Yet for the Blue Devil rowers this weekend, they had the opportunity to do just that.

No. 14 Duke rowing competed in the ACC Championships on home soil Friday and Saturday as it faced off against the conference’s finest on Lake Wheeler in Raleigh. Taking advantage of the home soil, the Blue Devils returned to Durham with a bronze trophy to boot with their 83 points, placing them behind the perennial powerhouses of No. 9 Virginia and No. 10 Syracuse.

“We’ve been going to Clemson for as many years as I’ve been in the ACC, and so to have another venue … to compete. It was great,” said head coach Megan Cooke Carcagno. “I think everyone loved it. It was really, really nice to be technically at home.”

Duke opened its weekend with strong performances Friday, earning top-three finishes in five races. The Second Varsity Eight boat earned the team’s first victory of the championship, clocking a winning time of 6:38.255 after narrowly edging out the Orange. The No. 1-seed Second Varsity Four team followed suit, beating out Notre Dame, Boston College and Miami with a time of 7:22.022 to garner the first-place crown. The Third Varsity Eight, Varsity Eight and Varsity Four boats all placed second in their heats to close out the day, putting the Blue Devils within striking distance as they headed into Saturday’s portion of the competition.

The Lake Wheeler water was on Duke’s side during the second day of the championships as Carcagno’s squad placed all five boats into the grand final races. The V4 headlined the Blue Devils’ day, coming in second behind Virginia with a time of 7:15.717 despite losing the preliminary heat to Syracuse. The 3V8 and V8 both found their way onto the podium, adding a pair of third-place finishes to Duke’s repertoire. 

The real action came, however, with the 2V8 race. Trading leads with the heavily-favored Cavaliers four times on the course, the Blue Devils lost the top spot in the last 100 meters by just 0.356 seconds. The 2V8 crew, comprised of coxswain Audrey Kline, Sophia Greco, Noelle Fuchs, Emilie Lijesen, Morgan Linsley, Ella Harris, Erin Temple, Chelsea Proutt and Justine Medveckus, battled their way to a silver medal with a time of 6:34.981. 

“It was just a real, real amazing [and] exhilarating race for everybody,” said Carcagno. “It [was] just top notch and…shows how good we are as a team.”

While the team certainly showed out, two individuals shined bright. The senior captain duo of Megan Lee and Lauren Sizemore came away with All-ACC honors after they both contributed to the success of the V8 boat. Lee received her second first team nod in as many years, while Sizemore was given her first conference recognition and was named to the second team.

“They’ve been an integral part of our success, especially this year. I know the women were pulling for them all the way down the course,” said Carcagno. “They’re gonna leave real big shoes to fill and I’m just really happy they got that acknowledgement.”

Now, the Duke squad sets its sights on the NCAA Rowing Championship starting May 26. After finishing 16th the previous year, the Blue Devils are setting their sights on sharpening their team performance for the national stage as they await the selection show Tuesday.

“I think all boats can get just a little sharper. Overall, we need to stay focused right now,” Carcagno said. “I think we need to work hard. I think we need to be smart. But I do think that we have a lot of momentum going into these last two weeks.”

Mackenzie Sheehy profile
Mackenzie Sheehy | Blue Zone editor

Mackenzie Sheehy is a Trinity first-year and Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


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