Graduate student Juliet Bottorff was unfazed by jet lag, humidity or a crowded field when she claimed the title at the Notre Dame Invitational Friday, but her teammates failed to overcome these challenges.
Bottorff dominated the field in South Bend, Ind., but the less-experienced Blue Devils fell further back in the pack, giving Duke a 10th-place finish overall.
Crossing the finish line in a time of 16:43.8, Bottorff was nearly ten seconds ahead of the race's second-place finisher, junior Colleen Quigley of Florida State, who won the race last year. Bottorff and Quigley were the only runners to finish the 5,000-meter race in less than 17 minutes.
“She looked honestly as good as I’ve seen her race in a long time,” said head coach Kevin Jermyn of his top scoring runner. “She looked really smooth. She ran nice and patient in the early going. I think it was the best race I’ve seen out of her so far.”
Even though this 5K time was slower than Bottorff’s 16:28.9 at the Adidas Challenge, Jermyn attributed the pace to humid and muddy conditions, which he said showed in all the Blue Devils’ times.
Unfavorable weather didn’t stop the Seminoles from showing why they are the second-ranked team in the nation according to the most recent U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll. Finishing all five scoring runners in the top 30, Florida State accumulated only 77 points. New Mexico, ranked 15th, gave the Seminoles close competition, scoring 82 points. San Francisco, BYU and Princeton rounded out the top five, all scoring less than 200 points.
Duke scored a total of 314 points. Competing without freshmen Wesley Frazier and Hannah Meier, who missed the race due to illness, the Blue Devils’ score was not quite where the fourth-ranked team would have hoped. Duke’s second and third scoring runners in this race—sophomore Anima Banks and junior Julianna Miller—finished 25th and 59th, respectively.
“Anima is right where or a little ahead of where we hoped she would be, being that in the first race she was our fourth or fifth scorer,” Jermyn said. “Julianna had a great race. She’s continuing to get better as the season progresses.”
Jermyn stressed the importance of his younger, less-experienced runners using this race as a building block for future meets.
“If they can gain experience and be more ready for that environment, and be able to push themselves, it can certainly be valuable,” Jermyn said. “Ultimately, we’re going to see what they do with it going into our next week of practice and see improvement in how they handle running in large, competitive packs.”
The Blue Devils will return to action at the Royal Challenge Friday in Charlotte, N.C., where they will hope to run a full lineup of healthy athletes.