Three weeks after opening their season with a win at Virginia Tech, the Blue Devil men are heading to the Panorama Farms Invitational in Charlottesville, Va. for what senior Mike Moverman called the “first true test of the season.”
In sharp contrast to Duke’s first two meets, the men will face off with three nationally ranked teams Sunday—No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 21 Michigan and No.22 Arkansas. The strength of the field means that this time, the men are not just racing for personal goals, they are also trying to gain as many points as they can for their team.
“Points are very hard to come by,” head coach Norm Ogilvie said, citing a finish ahead of Arkansas or Michigan and a win over the Cavaliers as the team’s top two goals. “We have a nice mix of returning veterans… and we also have some really promising new talent with us as well. So hopefully that mixture will come together and we’ll have a great day. We’ve been training extremely well. I’m optimistic.”
That mixture will include runners such as junior Brian Atkinson, senior James Kostelnik and Moverman. Moverman, who missed the previous cross country and track seasons due to injury and sat out the first meet of this season, will make his return on the 8k course with the rest of the team. Despite his time off, he said he is eagerly awaiting the upcoming contest.
“I just want the team to do well,” Moverman said. “I’m just going to run fast and help the team as much as I can. It’s a big meet because a lot of the teams, like Michigan and Arkansas… are obviously great teams, but they’re beatable. They’re good opportunities to score points.”
Moverman noted his confidence comes from the great results that he has been seeing and experiencing in workouts. The Duke team, which suffered some surprising disappointments in the previous season, is keeping a sharp eye on its practice strategies this time around to ensure that history is not repeated.
“The two teams before last year had gone to the NCAA championships,” Ogilvie said. “There was an element of [last year’s] guys wanting to prove to themselves that they were at least as good. But the truth was that they were training a little too hard. We decided this year we’d be a little smarter than that. Your mental outlook heading into the race is important…. If you go into a race feeling rested and ready to run a great race then you’re likely to do that.”
Three freshmen—William Rooney, Daniel Moore and William Hague—will join Moverman and the rest of the upperclassmen this coming weekend. Although these newcomers will be running the 8k distance for the first time this season, they have already shown that they are capable of running with their strong times and top finishes in the starting meets.
Despite any fatigue the longer distance causes, with the high stakes, the freshmen have more than enough motivation to power through. “Starting this weekend, the wins and losses count,” Ogilvie said.