Senior harrier William Hague put his shaky past at the Royals Challenge behind him to lead Duke’s B-Team to an impressive showing Friday afternoon.
A year after passing out from heat exhaustion and being unable to finish this race, Hague was the first Blue Devil to cross the finish line on another hot afternoon at McAlpine Creek Park in Charlotte. The Winnetka, Ill., native held back in the first half of the eight-kilometer race, but passed over a dozen competitors in the final three kilometers to finish in 29th place with a time of 25:30.8.
“William definitely was the leader of this team today,” Duke men's head coach Norm Ogilvie said. “We don’t elect captains for the B-squad, but that was the role he played.”
The Blue Devils’ other five runners in the meet all finished within 90 seconds of Hague to lift Duke to a third place finish out of nearly 40 teams competing. The only two Division I teams that finished ahead of Ogilvie’s squad—Campbell and Wake Forest—both ran their A-teams, and the Blue Devils finished ahead of five other Division I teams.
This was the B-team’s first race this season at the eight-kilometer distance, and aside from Hague—the lone senior competing in the men’s race for Duke—all of the Blue Devil harriers went out hard before faltering a bit down the stretch. In such a big meet, it was important to attack at the beginning.
“We had to be smart in our approach. We knew on one hand we had to get out to make sure we weren’t trapped behind slower teams,” Ogilvie said. “We also didn’t get out too fast or we’d end up not finishing, so I think the guys split the difference really well.”
The temperature at race-time was near 81 degrees, much warmer than ideal weather for a cross country meet. This presented another challenge to the Blue Devils aside from the extended length, and brought to mind the heat at last year’s race that proved to be too much for Hague to handle.
“I know that was going through the back of William’s head,” Ogilvie said. “There were a lot of guys—I’d say a half-dozen guys pulled off the course—that couldn’t finish because of the heat.”
Junior Weston Carvalho had a strong race, finishing just 12 seconds behind his eight-kilometer personal best of 25:23.8 with a new course best of 25:35.4. Carvalho recently missed time due to sickness, but the Westminster, Md., native led the Blue Devils’ charge for much of the race before crossing the line five seconds after his senior teammate.
Sophomore Josiah Hanko also shook off injury woes that have plagued him for much of the past year to be the third man to finish for Duke in 26:03.4. Junior Brian Benesch, sophomore Kyle Carrozza and sophomore Kyle Francis completed the race with times of 26:04.4, 26:26.4, and 26:57.7, respectively, exhibiting the B-team’s depth.
“They’ve been running with the A-team in practice every day, and I think they were ready to show their stuff,” Ogilivie said. “They don’t see themselves as B-team guys, they see themselves as guys that are going to be on the A-team sooner than later, and that’s what we want them to think.”
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It is unlikely that any of these harriers will represent the Blue Devils at the NCAA Pre-Nationals in Louisville, Ky., next Saturday, but Hague would be the first in line to move up if one of the top 10 runners gets sick or hurt.
Duke’s women’s team only sent two runners to Charlotte for the Royals Challenge as they also continue preparation for the Pre-Nationals. Senior Allison Sturges finished in 14th place with a time of 18:41.1, and junior Gina Daniel was not far behind in 20th place, stopping the clock in 18:47.0. The Blue Devils did not bring enough women’s runners to qualify for the team competition, which requires at least five competitors in cross country meets.