After a strong performance at the Pre-National Meet in Louisville, Ky. led to a fifth-place finish for the team, Duke earned its first appearance in the national rankings this season, making its debut at No. 18.
Regional rankings have changed in the Blue Devils’ favor as well, as the team moved into No. 2 for the southeast region.
The team traveled to Louisville without senior Domenick DeMatteo, whose recent illness has taken him out of competition for the rest of the season. De Matteo was expected to be a top runner for Duke, but led by senior Mike Moverman, the runners showed that they were more than capable of making up the difference.
“We knocked off some of the nationally-ranked teams,” head coach Norm Ogilvie said. “All teams that are potential selections for the NCAA Championship field, so we put ourselves in a great position for the post season. Not only that, I’m pretty sure we set the all-time school record for the five-man average in the 8K. We averaged 24:07. There was nothing not to like.”
The Duke men ran by No. 19 Tulsa, No. 25 Vilanova, No. 27 Georgetown and then-No. 23 William & Mary. Their success in finishing ahead of these ranked teams is especially important as it relieves some of the pressure on the runners at the regional meet.
“I personally think that if we race to our potential we will be top two in the region,” Moverman said. “The good thing about beating all those ranked teams is that it takes a little bit of the pressure off. But we’re definitely still just as hungry. Virginia Tech was one point behind us, so that… could go either way.”
Moverman, who led the team with a personal-best finish of 23:58.0, came in 39th overall. Junior Brian Atkinson, who crossed the line in 48th with a time of 24:02.1, followed shortly afterwards. Sophomore Shaun Thompson and senior Dominick Robinson also posted personal records, finishing 50th with a time of 24:03.5 and 52nd with a time of 24:04.7, respectively. Robinson caught a Virginia Tech runner just before the end of the race, giving the Blue Devils their one-point victory over the Hokies.
Graduate student James Kostelnik and juniors Phil Farleigh and Lucas Talavan-Becker rounded out the top seven for Duke, taking 98th, 154th and 182nd, respectively.
The Duke men also took part in the unseeded race at the Pre-National meet. Three runners—senior Joseph Elsakr, junior Christian Britto and sophomore Brian Schoepfer—represented the Blue Devils in the race. Elsakr led his teammates with a time of 25:26.8 and Britto crossed the line shortly after with a time of 25:31.6. Schoepfer closed out the race for Duke less than six seconds later with a time of 25:37.1.
D the strong showing by Duke, one weekend’s success does not mean the runners are free to relax.
“I’m… happy,” Moverman said, “but obviously you’re never satisfied, you always want to do a little better.”