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Duke women's cross country qualify for tournament bid

Juliet Bottorff paced the Blue Devils as they earned a berth to the NCAA Championships.
Juliet Bottorff paced the Blue Devils as they earned a berth to the NCAA Championships.

In a dominating performance this past Friday, the Blue Devil women earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship meet in Louisville, Ky. when they pulled together for a first-place finish at the Southeast Regional meet.

The Blue Devils finished far ahead of their closest competitor, William & Mary, which was not within striking distance in the final points tally. As the top-two squads at the meet, both were granted automatic bids.

“We’re certainly pleased with that effort,” head coach Kevin Jermyn said. “We came into the race pretty confident—we knew we could be in a position to contend for the regional title, so I was definitely pleased to see that materialize for the girls.... We had a really strong top four.”

The Blue Devils were once-again led by senior Juliet Bottorff, who finished second in the 6km race with a time of 20:14.48, barely losing the first-place spot to Kentucky’s Cally Macumber. Bottorff’s finish, her highest yet at a regional meet, earned her All-Southeast Region honors. Shortly after Bottorff, both Kelsey Lakowske and Carolyn Baskir crossed the line, taking ninth and 12th with times of 20:43.85 and 20:52.21, respectively, and earning the honors for themselves as well.

“Carolyn hasn’t run that many races this season and this was a big improvement over ACC’s,” Jermyn said. “She really worked her way up.... Kelsey—for her first season with us—is being very consistent.”

Graduate student Suejin Ahn was another standout performer at the Regional meet as she clocked her best regional time ever—21:04.51—with her 19th-place finish, which was also good for her second consecutive All-Southeast Region honors. For Ahn, who traveled to the national meet with the Duke team two years ago, the Regional win was bittersweet because it is her last year.

“It’s kind of sad,” Ahn said, “but I’m glad we’re doing well this year. The experience gives me confidence. I’m excited to [go to nationals].”

Senior Madeline Morgan, who at last year’s Regional meet was the only Blue Devil to gain entry into the NCAA Championships, finished just 30 seconds after Ahn in 39th. Sophomore Gabby Levac and senior Ashley Brasovan finished 55th and 73rd with times of f 21:53.75 and 22:07.11, respectively, rounding out the rest of the Duke team.

Although the team is over the hurdle of qualifying for the Championships, the women are maintaining their combination of determined focus and laid-back philosophy. Without thinking too much about particular places or the pressure of competing at the national level, the runners are committed to improving individually, and consequently, as a team.

“The goal is to do well next week,” Jermyn said. “My approach going into nationals is that we’re just going to go out there and try to be solid and race hard and not try to set anything that’s really... overreaching. When the competition rises you don’t always have to try hard, sometimes you just have to use a little finesse and be a little more relaxed... and let the competition bring 100 percent out of you.”

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