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Duke cross country freshmen dominate Bull City Classic as men's and women's teams win comfortably

<p>Duke's first and only home cross country meet of the year was confined to the track due to rain.</p>

Duke's first and only home cross country meet of the year was confined to the track due to rain.

It took longer than expected for Duke’s young runners to make their debut, but they did not disappoint when the skies cleared Friday.

The Blue Devil men’s and women’s teams both had the top five finishers to post perfect scores of 15 and comfortably beat Wake Forest and N.C. Central in the Bull City Classic at Morris Williams Track & Field Stadium. Although the women’s race was initially slated to start at 5:30 p.m. with the men’s race to follow at 6, a lightning delay pushed both groups back to run at the same time at 7.

Duke's only home meet of the year was initially supposed to start on the track and go to the Al Buehler Trail across the street before finishing back on the track, but the rain restricted the whole meet to the track due to concerns about mud and darkness on the trail.

“We certainly got a good taste for an hour of what Houston had for days, so we can’t really feel sorry for ourselves,” men’s head coach Norm Ogilvie said. “For the freshmen, it’s their first time out and they had to deal with adversity a little bit, but they handled it really well and they dominated the race.”

On the men’s side, the Blue Devils rested all of their juniors and seniors, but the nine Duke runners to start the race were the first nine runners to finish it. Freshman C.J. Ambrosio won the six-kilometer race on the track with a time of 18:07.0, and classmates Paul Dellinger, Alex Miley, Mike Ungvarsky and Josh Romine rounded out the top five with times faster than 18:30.0.

“We actually ran something very similar to this a week ago, and we were much faster one week later, so they did really, really well,” Ogilvie said. “We knew we had a good class, no doubt about it. All these guys were state champions or All-Americans in high school, and they showed it today.”

The women’s race started on the opposite side of the track, and the competitors ran 10 laps to complete a four-kilometer race instead of 15. Much like the men, the Blue Devils got out in front from the beginning and stayed there.

Freshman Amanda Beach won with a time of 13.47.0, edging fellow freshman Michaela Reinhart after a dash to the finish line. The top seven finishers in the race were Duke runners, and most of the team’s top returning athletes were resting and cheering from the edge of the track.

“I’m very impressed with the freshmen,” women’s head coach Rhonda Riley said. “They have a lot of talent, and it’s the first time that these young ladies have had teammates to run with, and they have embraced that and they work together. It was special to watch that unfold.”

The Blue Devils will return to action in two weeks, with the women competing in the Adidas XC Invitational Sept. 15 in Cary, N.C., and the men traveling to Rock Hill, S.C., Sept. 16. Both teams’ most experienced runners are expected to make their fall debuts at those meets.

“They’re training hard through this period. In two weeks, we’ll put the whole team together and see what we’ve got,” Ogilvie said. “I’m pretty sure that some of the freshmen are still going to be near the top.”

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