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Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Suejin Ahn and James Kostelnik
Elite Fields Await Blue Devils in Weekend Races
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 10/11/2012
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DURHAM, N.C. - The Duke men's and women's cross country teams are set to compete in three different locations this weekend with several significant meets on the schedule. The Blue Devil women will send runners to the Wisconsin adidas Invitational and the Royal Cross Country Challenge Friday, while the men's squad will preview the 2012 NCAA Cross Country Championships course Saturday at the NCAA Pre-Nationals meet in Louisville, Ky.

After sending a few runners to the Hagan Stone Classic near Greensboro, N.C. last weekend, the Duke women will split for Friday's races. Seniors Juliet Bottorff and Madeline Morgan will lead a group that also includes graduate students Suejin Ahn and Megan Deakins, fellow senior Kayla Hale, juniors Gabby Levac and Jessie Rubin and sophomore Kelsey Lakowske at the Wisconsis adidas Invitational in Madison, Wis. The women's 6K competition, slated for 1 p.m. ET on Friday, will feature 20 of the top 30 teams in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association national rankings. Second-ranked Arizona, No. 3 Washington, No. 5 Iowa State, No. 7 Stanford, No. 9 Cornell and No. 10 Michigan State are among the ranked squads in Friday's field of 49 teams.

"Competing in such a large and competitive race field will help our athletes mentally prepare for the NCAA Championships," said women's head coach Kevin Jermyn. "Our women have been progressing well in their training and are excited to race in this competition."

The Blue Devil women, who are currently ranked fifth in the Southeast Region, will also send representatives to compete in the Royal Cross Country Challenge Saturday in Charlotte, N.C. The women's 5K gold race gets underway at 3:30 p.m. at McAlpine Creek Park, with the action being hosted by Queens University of Charlotte.

Following a weekend off of competition, the Duke men will head to Louisville, Ky., for the NCAA Pre-Nationals meet Saturday at the E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park - the site of the 2012 NCAA Cross Country Championships. A number of nationally-ranked programs will line up for Saturday's 8K races, including No. 3 BYU, No. 7 Colorado, No. 9 Tulsa, No. 14 Florida State and No. 15 Oregon. Graduate student James Kostelnik, seniors Mike Moverman and Dominick Robinson, juniors Brian Atkinson, Phil Fairleigh and Lucas Talavan-Becker and sophomore Shaun Thompson are slated to race for the Blue Devil men, who are also ranked fifth in the Southeast Region, in the red seeded race at 9:30 a.m., while senior Joseph Elsakr, junior Christian Britto and sophomore Brian Schoepfer will compete in the black unseeded competition at 10:45 a.m.

"Our training the past few weeks has been very good and compares favorably, one through five, with our 2010 squad that was an automatic qualifier to NCAAs," said men's head coach Norm Ogilvie. "Pre-Nationals Saturday will not only show us the NCAA course in Louisville, but it will also show us if this team has the desire and the mental toughness to turn its fitness into an NCAA Championships-caliber squad."

For updates on the Duke cross country teams throughout the weekend, follow the Blue Devils on Twitter (@Duke_TF_XC).