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Photographers know: Blue Devils are busy

It’s a busy time to be a Duke women’s cross country runner.

If you don’t believe that, just ask the team photographer. Following a Wednesday press conference, a Duke Athletics staffer asked women’s cross country coach Kevin Jermyn to schedule a team photo. A full twenty minutes of discussion ensued. Wednesday at six wouldn’t work, since several of the players have class at that time. With a 3.55 team GPA and USTFCCCA All-Academic Team honors in 2009, there’s no missing class. The weekend wouldn’t work, either—the team placed eighth at the NCAA championship last year, and 13 of the top 14 runners return for the 2010 campaign so there’s no interfering with practice time.

With Duke’s busy schedule, it’s no wonder Jermyn feels his women’s team can reach new heights this year.

“We’re definitely in a position where we feel like we’re well-armored to go out and do things at a bigger and higher level,” Jermyn said.

Jermyn and junior Carly Seymour also said chemistry was one of the team’s most important attributes.

“We push each other, we know each other’s limits, we know how to motivate each other,” Seymour said.

While the women’s team looks to be impressive, the men’s team refuses to be overshadowed. In addition to receiving the same USTFCCCA All-Academic recognition as its female counterpart, it isn’t shy about its own lofty expectations for the 2010 season.

“In many ways, on paper, this is probably the best Duke cross country team that’s ever gone into a season,” head coach Norm Ogilvie said. “And now it’s our job to make sure we live up to that potential. Our goals are nothing less than to try and win the ACC Championship and be one of the more elite programs in the country.”

The men’s squad returns six of its top seven runners from its NCAA Championship appearance last season, and Ogilvie says there are also athletes returning who could have made NCAAs.

He and his staff rescored the 2009 ACC Championship meet after removing the graduating seniors from all the teams in the conference. The results had Duke only six points off the top spot, a margin Ogilvie feels his team can easily make up.

“In cross-country,” Ogilvie said, “that’s basically a dead heat.”

Nearly two weeks into their preseason training program, the team shows excellent progress. On a recent workout of six one-mile sprints, the team not only far outpaced its times at the same point last year but also ran faster than the 2000 squad which was the last Duke team to bring home an ACC title.

The road to another title will not be easy, though. The Blue Devils’ strength is in their depth, but they will still need a leader to step out at the front of the pack. Senior Bo Waggoner, recently named one of the team’s two captains, finished sixth at last year’s ACC championships, but Virginia’s Emil Heineking and Ryan Collins took first and second at the meet, and they return for the Cavaliers in 2010, making Virginia the biggest obstacle to Duke’s ACC title hopes.

For both the men’s and women’s squads, it’ll be worth the extra effort to schedule those team photos, because with expectations like this, they’re sure to want their pictures.

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