Despite their impressive showing at the Pre-National meet just two weeks ago, the No. 18 Blue Devils were unable to pull together for the finish they needed at this past weekend’s ACC Championship meet.
The men came in at fifth overall, with one runner, senior Mike Moverman, finishing in the top nine to earn All-ACC honors on the 8K course.
“Mike had a great race and Christian Britto had a great race,” head coach Norm Ogilvie said. “Mike ran only four seconds slower than he did at the Pre-Nationals course and the ACC course is... more difficult. But he showed that you can run very close to the same time and then some of our other guys ran maybe 20, 30 seconds slower than they did at Pre-Nationals.”
Moverman headed into the race looking for a top-nine finish and managed to cross the line in 24:02.9, four seconds ahead of the man behind him. The top finish earned him his first All-ACC honor in his Duke career. Graduate student James Kostelnik made it to his 21st-place finish in 24:31.3 and his teammate Britto, a junior, also posted a strong performance, taking the number four spot for the Blue Devil team. Britto broke 25 minutes for the first time in his career this past Saturday, crossing the line in 24:49.0.
Despite their success, though, the rest of the team was unable to pull together in the race.
“I wouldn’t count it as an average day,” Ogilvie said. “It was an above-average day for Mike Moverman, and an above-average day for Christian Britto, and not as good as they could’ve run for a couple other guys.... You take two guys running significantly slower than before and that tight, four-man pack you had before is not a tight, four-man pack anymore.”
After Moverman, junior Brian Atkinson led the rest of the team across the finish line, taking 17th and second for Duke in 24:18.9. Kostelnik came through soon afterward followed by Britto, who was just 0.6 seconds ahead of sophomore Shaun Thompson. Shortly afterward junior Lucas Talavan-Becker rounded out the top-seven runners for Duke with his 41st-place finish.
According to Moverman, the poor result at the past weekend’s meet could have been caused by a mediocre race day combined with the competitiveness of the field.
“The team as a whole did a little worse than we could have,” Moverman said. “At the ACC the points are so tight... that it gets exaggerated.”
Regardless of the reason this meet did not go quite as planned, both the runners and Ogilvie maintain that it will have little to no effect on their overall goals—peaking at the NCAA Regional meet and performing well at the NCAA Championship. Their training has been geared towards setting up a strong performance at the Regional meet in hopes of earning a top-two finish and an automatic bid. In addition, regardless of today’s results, Duke’s strong showing at the Pre-National meet, where it finished ahead of many nationally-ranked teams and earned its No.18 national ranking, will provide points towards qualification for the national meet if the men are unable to finish in the top two.
“Our whole goal from the beginning of the season till now is really the Regional race... everything else is sort of like the cherry on top,” Moverman said. “It’s actually a lot better that we ran well at Pre-Nationals than if we did well at ACC’s. It’s nice to win ACC Championships, but our main goal is to do well at the National meet.”