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Duke hires Vanderbilt's Rhonda Riley as next women's cross country head coach

Duke has hired Vanderbilt women's cross country associate head coach Rhonda Riley to replace Christine Engel as head women's cross country coach, the University announced Thursday.

In addition to leading the women's cross country team, Riley will serve as an assistant track and field coach. The recruiting coordinator for the Commodores, Riley helped lead the team to five consecutive NCAA championship appearances and back-to-back South Region titles in 2014 and 2015.

Engel resigned in early May. No reason was given for her departure. 

”We are thrilled to welcome Rhonda Riley to the Duke family,” Norm Ogilvie, Duke director of track and field and men's cross country head coach, said in a press release. “Her passion for the sport is second to none, and she will be a great fit to help return Duke women's distance running to national prominence."

Under head coach Kevin Jermyn, the Blue Devils finished in the top three at the NCAA championship in 2004 and 2005 after capturing ACC and Southeast Region titles. Jermyn led Duke to several more top-10 finishes at NCAAs before stepping down in July 2014 and being replaced by Engel.

Engel helped All-American Anima Banks, who graduated in May, as well as two indoor women's distance runners earn All-ACC honors during her time in Durham.

To replace Banks' production, Riley will look to use her extensive NCAA championship experience in Durham.  

In 2011, she helped lead Vanderbilt to its first-ever SEC title and worked with Alexa Rogers, the program's first All-American. Last year, she helped Caroline Pietrzyk earn SEC Freshman of the Year honors.

"Duke has been known for being a tremendous women's cross country and track program, and I am looking forward to continuing that strong, national-level tradition," Riley said in the release.

A 2004 graduate of Oregon State, Riley also worked with distance runners on Vanderbilt's women's track and field team, a role she will also have at Duke. 

After earning her master's degree in higher education at Arizona State, Riley worked with the Sun Devils and the Beavers for a combined three years before joining Vanderbilt's program.

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