Although the Blue Devils' starting roster competed in last week's Roy Griak Invitational and notched a first-place finish, Duke still had depth in its roster to show.
The Blue Devils ran away with a 1st place team win Saturday morning at the Great American Cross Country Festival at Wakemed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. Junior runner Dalton Randall led the Blue Devils with a strong 2nd place individual finish and 8k time of 25:09.7 in his first competition after a foot injury knocked him out of commission a year ago.
“We’re real happy with it," Duke head coach Norm Ogilvie said. "This is essentially our 11th through 20th runners, our second group. We ran our top 10 runners last week at the Roy Griak meet in Minnesota and came up with a big win for the team there. But because of Hurricane Florence, we lost a meet so we knew we needed to get a race in so when we found out this race was an option, we were glad to jump on it.”
Placing six runners in the top 11 finishers, Duke bested the 16-team field with 26 points. Morehouse placed second with 93 points, followed by Florida Atlantic in third with 104 points. Emmanuel (107) and North Carolina A&T (113) filled out the top five.
Junior Matt Wisner and senior Stephen Garrett trailed just a few seconds behind Randall, notching times of 25:22.9 and 25:25.6 respectively. Junior Ethan Ready placed 7th with a time of 25:40.5 and first-year duo of Carter Dillon (25:45.9) came through the line in 10th and Will Dixon (25:51.4) finished in 11th place. Three more Blue Devils rounded out the top-20: first-year Joe Cullen came in 13th with a time of 26:20.4, junior Adamson Bryan took 16th with a 26:37.1 showing and junior Zachary Alhamra finished 20th in 26:50.5. First-year Devin Connell completed the 10-man field in 29th place with 27:25.1.
Despite some soft ground due to morning rain showers, the course appeared to be in good conditions for the Duke squad to race well. Coach Ogilvie was particularly pleased with Randall’s performance today.
“Dalton was a big surprise," Ogilvie said. "We weren’t even sure we were going to race him. He’s coming off a foot injury, one he had last year, and he trained really hard all summer and we we’re still trying to be cautious with him and I was willing to wait another week to open up his season but at the last minute he decided to give it a go and then he went to the front and ended up being our number one man.”
Randall displayed incredible mental toughness over the last year as he battled back from his foot injury. The Moseley, Va., native explained that he would spend up to three hours a day on the bike this spring to prepare for his comeback. His determination made today’s strong performance feel that much sweeter as he looks to compete for a spot on the ACC squad next week at the ECU Invitational on Oct. 12 in Greenville, N.C. The top 10 Blue Devils will take on tough competition at the Pre-Nationals meet in Madison, Wis. on Oct. 13.