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Duke cross country looks to contend in two invitationals this weekend

<p>The Blue Devils will race against some of the top teams in the Southeast Friday evening.</p>

The Blue Devils will race against some of the top teams in the Southeast Friday evening.

The Blue Devil cross country squad is hitting the ground running this season. 

The men’s team returns to action this weekend at the Winthrop Invitational Saturday morning in Rock Hill, S.C, and the women’s squad will compete Friday at the Adidas Invitational in Cary, N.C. The men and women are coming off a successful Bull City Classic Sept. 1, where they prevailed against Wake Forest and N.C. Central with the top five finishers on both sides.

Leading the way for the men is freshman C.J. Ambrosio. The Avon, Ohio, native finished the Bull City Classic with a time of 18:07 in the six-kilometer race on the track. Freshmen Paul Dellinger and Alex Miley were not far behind with times of 18:10 and 18:12, respectively. Duke had the top nine finishers in the meet. 

“We are excited about the next two weeks,” men’s head coach Norm Ogilvie said, “There will be 19 teams in the field [Saturday], seven of which are Division I. We think we can handle all of them.... All the freshman and all the seniors who sat out last week, they will be able to toe the line.” 

Duke’s Division I opponents this weekend include Winthrop, The Citadel, South Carolina-Upstate, Wofford, South Carolina State and Presbyterian. The eight-kilometer race will start Saturday at 9 a.m.

“From there, we will be taking the top 10 finishers on Saturday up to Minnesota the following week,” Ogilvie said. “The Minnesota meet is a truly national-caliber type competition. That will be a real test to see if we are ready to break in on the national level.” 

The women are also coming off an impressive day at the Bull City Classic. In the first race of their Duke careers, freshmen Amanda Beach and Michaela Reinhart led the way, with the identical time of 13:47 in the four-kilometer race. Right behind the first-year duo was junior co-captain Olivia Gwynn with a race time of 13:55. Rounding out the top four was another freshman, Leigha Torino, who crossed the finish line in 14:05. 

“They are ready to race,” women’s head coach Rhonda Riley said. “They had a really good two-week block of training and are excited to step up to the starting line. We are expecting to work on the things that we have been working on in practice and putting that to the test in the race. A lot of that will stem from grouping up together and running with your teammates and seeing how well we pack up.” 

Joining Beach, Reinhart, Torino and Gwynn in the top eight who will compete this weekend are juniors Kim Hallowes and Sheridan Wilbur and sophomores Sarah Armstrong and Veronica Brtek. 

Duke is one of 14 teams in the field, which also includes N.C. State—the top-ranked team in the Southeast Region—Wake Forest, North Carolina and Elon. The Blue Devils are ranked 15th in the Southeast for the second week in a row.

“The team is feeling very good,” Riley said. “We had a solid training block and we were able to get in some longer-type training efforts, with some hills and some speed work. We are just progressing through the season and getting the fitness improved in each lady.” 

The women will take off from the starting line at 6:35 p.m. at WakeMed Soccer Park for the five-kilometer race.  


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