KERNERSVILLE, N.C. – Junior Shaun Thompson led the Duke men’s cross country team to a sixth-place finish Friday, Nov. 1, at the ACC Championship meet in Kernersville, N.C. Thompson's fourth-place finish marked the highest of a Duke harrier since 2000, when former Blue Devil, Sean Kelly, captured an individual ACC title.
The Blue Devils placed three runners in the top 25 and scored 137 points. Syracuse captured the team title with 64 points. North Carolina (84), Notre Dame (105), Virginia (108) and Virginia Tech (120) rounded out the top-five teams. The men improved to 66-24 overall and 15-7 in ACC competition for the season.
The men’s 8,000-meter race started under grey skies at Beeson Park, with rain threatening throughout the morning. The Blue Devils worked to the front of the race early, as Thompson, senior Brian Atkinson, graduate student Mike Moverman and senior Christian Britto positioned themselves within the lead pack. Following the 3,000-meter marker, Thompson put on a surge that created a 10-meter gap between himself and the rest of the field. NC State’s Andrew Colley, the eventual conference champion, led a chase pack up to Thompson, and the Baldwinsville, N.Y., native settled back into third place. Thompson held on to his top-five position, conceding just one place and finishing fourth overall in a time of 24:07.7.
“I took the chance at about 3K because the race really settled down slow and there was a lot of pushing and shoving, and I’m not a big guy, so I can’t waste that kind of energy. I decided that about 3K, it’s not worth it. If this happens the whole race, they’ll make a move 2K out and there’s a lot of guys with a lot better speed than me. So I went out and thought, ‘If they want it, they’re going to have to work for it. They’re going to have to come track me down.’”
Duke men’s head cross country coach Norm Ogilvie was impressed by Shaun’s ambitious move midway through the race.
“He ran a great race,” said Ogilvie. “We certainly felt like Atkinson, Moverman and Thompson are all capable of running a top-10 race. Shaun made a bold move. That was all him. It was a great strategy, and sometimes when you’re bold, you’re rewarded with great results, and today that’s what happened. The three guys ahead of him have great credentials, and he beat a few guys with great credentials. I don’t think he would have placed any higher trying any other strategy than what worked. He did a great job. He had the courage to do it. He should be commended for it.”
In the final ACC Championship of his collegiate career, Atkinson earned all-conference honors, placing 20th in a time of 24:36.4. The Melbourne Beach, Fla., native’s consistent season continued, as Friday’s finish marked the fourth time this season he placed in the top three on the Blue Devil squad.
Moverman placed third for Duke in the second consecutive meet. The Easton, Mass., native narrowly missed earning all-conference honors for the second year in a row, placing 22nd overall. Moverman covered the course in a time of 24:41.4.
For the second consecutive year, Britto placed fourth for the Blue Devils at the ACC Championship meet. Britto finished 38th overall, in a time of 24:57.7. Britto responded to a number of moves made throughout the race, passing three runners after the 4,000-meter mark.
Senior Clint McKelvey rounded out the scoring for the Blue Devils, placing 59th overall, in a time of 25:24.4 McKelvey sat in 69th place at the mid-way point in the race before overtaking 10 runners and crossing the finish in 59th.
The trio of junior Brian Schoepfer, senior Lucas Talavan-Becker and freshman Stephen Shine finished within five seconds of one another to place 78th, 81st and 82nd, respectively. Schoepfer ran a time of 25:53.0 in his return to the ACCs after placing 83rd in a time of 26:07.5 at last year’s conference meet. Talavan-Becker moved up seven positions in the final 4,000 meters and finished in a time of 25:57.6, while Shine, participating in his sixth meet of the season, and the first conference competition of his collegiate career, recorded a time of 25:58.8.
Sophomore Blake Udland also toed the line in his first collegiate conference championship. The Short Hills, N.J., native finished 90th in a time of 26:15.8.
The Blue Devils return to competition Nov. 9, competing at the Three Stripe Invitational in Cary, N.C.