Hampton grad shines for Duke rowing team
Hampton graduate Katie Dukovich accepted a challenge from her coach and had a terrific senior season on the Duke rowing team.
Dukovich, 22, was named Division I first-team All-America by the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association and led the Blue Devils to their first NCAA championship appearance.
First-year Duke coach Megan Cooke Carcagno said Dukovich told her she was disappointed with her first three seasons as a Blue Devil, that it was a “bumpy ride.”
“When I started at Duke and looked over the roster, the only familiar name to me was Katie,” said Cooke Carcagno, who previously coached for Wisconsin and remembered Dukovich as a prized high school recruit. “I told her someone on this team will have to get it done (and it) might as well be you.”
Dukovich said Cooke Carcagno hit the “restart” button on her career and “reinstated” her passion for rowing.
Dukovich was named first-team All-ACC after helping the Blue Devils to second place at the league championship, their best finish since taking second in 2006. She was in the varsity eight that beat Syracuse in a photo finish for second place in the Grand Final on May 14.
The eight finished 18th, and Duke placed 17th overall at the NCAA championship later in the month.
Dukovich was fifth and sixth, respectively, on the same boat in the grand finals of the 2014 and 2015 ACC championship meets.
Dukovich said receiving an NCAA bid was a career highlight and making All-America was “icing on the cake.”
She was one of 22 athletes and the only one from Duke who made the Division I first team. Cooke Carcagno admired the turnaround.
“(Dukovich) never failed to push herself and strive to be the best at every opportunity,” she said. “The harder it got, the harder she worked.
“She also had the tendency of holding everyone else in the room accountable.”
An earth and ocean sciences major, Dukovich is undecided about a career. She is considering trying out for a national team and attending graduate school.
Dukovich, who is 5-foot-8, began rowing as a freshman at Hampton. She was a two-time Midwest regional champion and earned a bronze medal on a four at the 2012 Scholastic Rowing Association of America National Championship Regatta. Chelsea Prior coached Dukovich at Hampton and is not surprised by her success.
“She was the type of leader to help anyone on the team,” Prior said.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.