NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Duke’s fourth-ranked women’s cross country team competed in the 58th running of the Notre Dame Invitational Friday, with graduate student Juliet Bottorff notching her second individual victory of the season. Bottorff led a young Blue Devil squad that scored 314 points to a 10th-place finish out of 24 opponents. Second-ranked Florida State captured the team crown after scoring just 77 points. No. 15 New Mexico (82), No. 24 San Francisco (96), No. 28 BYU (187), No. 30 Princeton (201), No. 19 Notre Dame (205), Bradley (269), SMU (274) and Lamar (305) rounded out the top ten.
Bottorff’s performance highlighted the competition for the Blue Devils, as the Newark, Del., native followed a record-setting performance two weeks earlier at the Adidas XC Challenge with a first-place finish at Notre Dame. Bottorff covered the 5,000 meter distance, located on Notre Dame’s golf course, in a time of 16:43.8, nearly ten seconds ahead of second-place finisher Florida State’s Colleen Quigley, who finished 12th at last season’s national championship meet.
Duke’s women’s cross country head coach, Kevin Jermyn, was pleased with Bottorff’s efforts in the competition.
“She looked real good,” Jermyn said. “She looked honestly as good as I’ve seen her race in a long time. She looked very smooth. She made some moves late in the race and ran nice and patient in the early going. It’s warm and humid and a little muddy so the time was really impressive in very challenging conditions. I think it was the best race I’ve seen out of her so far. We’re definitely thrilled with her race.”
The Blue Devils fielded a young contingent of runners on Friday, including sophomore Anima Banks, who competed in the fourth cross country race of her collegiate career, and junior Julianna Miller, who raced in her second cross country race since her freshman year. Banks followed her Adidas XC Challenge performance with a finishing time of 17:39.7 and a 25th-place finish at the Notre Dame Invitational. Miller raced to a 59th-place finish and covered the distance in 18:03.5. Jermyn commended the progress of his two younger runners.
“Anima is right where or a little ahead of where we hoped she would be, being that in the first race she was right around our fourth or fifth scorer,” Jermyn said. “If we’re able to race later in the season with five around where she was, that would put us higher in the team standings. Julianna had a great race, too. She’s continuing to get better as the season progresses. I thought she ran real smart.”
Senior Ashley Berry and graduate student Sophia Ziemian rounded out the scoring for the Blue Devils. Berry placed 116th in a time of 18:38.8 and Ziemian finished in 119th place. Ziemian crossed the line in a time of 18:41.7. Freshman Haley Meier raced to a 133rd place finish and ran a time of 18:48.8 in the second college race of her career.
Jermyn believes Friday’s race provided crucial high-level racing experience for Duke that will benefit the team later in the season.
“It was definitely the most crowded race most of these girls have been in. If they didn’t handle it well at first, it might hurt our team result today, but if they can gain experience and be more ready for that environment, and be able to push themselves, it can certainly be valuable. Ultimately, it’s what they take with them from this race.”
Junior Abby Farley placed 141st in the competition, with a time of 18:55.1, while sophomore Madison Granger, racing in just her second collegiate cross country race, finished in 153rd place and ran a time of 19:02.3. Sophomore Allison Sturges, also competing in her second collegiate cross country race, placed 166th in a time of 19:13.9.
The Blue Devils return to action next Friday, Oct. 11, as Duke travels to Charlotte, N.C., to compete in the Royals Challenge.