Just 15 minutes before this past weekend’s football game, Duke and N.C. Central raced along the track to the theme song from “Chariots of Fire.” Although the teams stayed together for the duration of the first lap, once the runners exited the stadium both Duke’s men’s and women’s teams left N.C. Central far behind.
On the men’s side, junior Phil Farleigh took first for the men in the 6K race with a time of 18:58. Despite leaving the starting line grinning about the music choice and trying to pump up the crowd, he quickly became serious once the race was fully underway.
“The first 400m had a great atmosphere. It was fun,” Farleigh said. “Once we left the stadium we picked it up…. At the two mile I kind of made a big move and pulled ahead and tried to, from there, maintain my lead and just keep it all the way in.”
The difference in racing style between the track and the rest of the trail was apparent when the runners stepped up the pace from their initially slow start to blow through the mile in about five minutes. Seventeen seconds after Farliegh, teammate junior Lucas Talavan-Becker crossed the finish line, with sophomore Brian Schoepfer following just five seconds later. Freshman Eddie Merenda and senior Joseph Elsakr rounded out Duke’s top five, finishing in 19:26 and 19:39, respectively. The entire Blue Devil team crossed the line in a span of less than 90 seconds, with Duke’s last man, Nate McClafferty, finishing more than four minutes in front of N.C. Central’s first. Head coach Norm Ogilvie expressed his satisfaction with the success of the combined events, agreeing with his runners that starting the race in Wallace Wade was a success and should be repeated.
“Phil moved away very convincingly in the last mile, especially after the big hill that we hit in the Washington Duke course.” Ogilvie said. “It was a very good effort on his part. I’m thrilled for him.”
The win will ensure Farleigh a spot competing for the Blue Devils at the meet in Virginia next weekend, which only the top 11 Blue Devils will attend.
The women also had a successful weekend, taking the top five spots of their 4K race. In her collegiate debut, sophomore Kelsey Lakowske led the Blue Devils across the finish line with a time of 14:16. Juniors Collette Whitney and Dana Morin, who took second and third, respectively. Five seconds later, senior Adrianne Soo finished in fourth with a time of 14:58 and junior Brittany Welch finished off the top five for Duke with a time of 15:02.
Because the women were not competing for additional stakes and approached the meet simply as a chance to see where they stood in terms of performance, they were able to focus more on the experience of racing through Wallace Wade.
“I really appreciated our teammates because they were a fantastic cheering squad,” Lakowske said. “They had posters, they were all dressed up in blue, and they were probably the most spirited squad in the entire stadium…. It was fantastic and it definitely made me feel supported and excited.”
Now, while the women have a chance to rest for a few weeks before their next meet, the men are already looking ahead to the Panorama Farms Invitational where they will face several nationally ranked teams.