Amina Maatoug has made history once again.
On Saturday morning, the Dutch phenom took off on the Panorama Farms Course in Charlottesville, Va., to compete with the cream of the crop in the NCAA Cross Country Championships. She placed ninth — the best finish in Duke program history.
In fact, she’s the first Blue Devil to ever place in the top 10 at the national championship.
“I had a lot of fun,” she said, in true Maatoug style.
The Leiden, Netherlands, native finds real joy in cross country, hence her success.
The 6k course is one Maatoug has grown familiar with this year; it played host to the Virginia Invitational back in September, where Maatoug snagged a top-10 finish. Maybe it was the course or maybe it was just pure Maatoug, but Panorama Farms served the junior runner just as well for the national final.
“We like the course, we know it — that was really helpful for us coming in,” said head coach Angela Reckart.
Maatoug took off with the top echelon of runners and stayed with them, climbing consistently for the duration of the race. She crossed the 2k mark in 19th, the 4k in 14th and the 5k in 12th. A powerful kick in the last leg of the race — when legs flew to decide final spots — put her in ninth overall with a time of 19:29.9.
“The race went out really fast, so I was trying to stay a little bit conservative and move up throughout the race,” Maatoug said. “And I think I did that well, so I’m very happy with that.”
Her top-10 result marks a 19-spot increase from last year’s 28th-place finish.
Florida’s Parker Valby took a declarative first-place finish — her 18:55.2 put her ahead of spot No. 2 by more than 10 seconds — and she finished her last stretch of race as a solo act. The Tampa, Fla., native headed into the race with the SEC individual title under her belt and high expectations from all around. Her emphatic victory was not much of a surprise. What was rather a surprise was the fifth-place finish from N.C. State’s Katelyn Tuohy, winner of the ACC and the reigning national champion. Her 19:23.0 was more than four seconds faster than last year’s 19:27.7, but put her four places behind the No. 1 spot she earned in 2022.
Still, the Wolfpack team took home gold, while Florida rounded out in fifth.
She probably won’t, but Maatoug can now take some time off before the indoor track season gets started Dec. 3.
“I’m really proud of her,” Reckart said.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.
Sophie Levenson is a Trinity sophomore and sports features editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.