DURHAM, N.C. - The Duke men's and women's cross country teams will line up against the top programs in the nation Saturday at the 2012 NCAA Cross Country Championships, hosted by the University of Louisville at E.P. 'Tom' Sawyer State Park. The women's 6,000-meter championship race is slated to begin at 12 p.m., followed by the men's 10K race at 1:15 p.m. Both competitions will be broadcast live on NCAA.com.
The 10th-ranked Blue Devil women will be returning to the national meet after earning automatic qualification last weekend with a first-place finish at the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships in Matthews, N.C. Four runners - senior Juliet Bottorff, sophomore Kelsey Lakowske, sophomore Carolyn Baskir and graduate student Suejin Ahn - finished inside the top 25 to receive all-region distinction and propel Duke to the Southeast Region title, the third in program history. Following last weekend's action, women's head coach Kevin Jermyn was also tabbed the Southeast Region Women's Coach of the Year for the fourth time in his career.
Senior Madeline Morgan was the program's lone representative at the 2011 NCAA Championships, placing 89th overall. As a team, Duke last competed at the championship meet in 2010, finishing 17th out of 31 squads. The Blue Devil women will be making their third trip to NCAAs in the past four years and 10th overall with the program's best finish coming in 2004 in a runner-up showing.
Bottorff and Morgan will be making the third appearances of their careers at the NCAA Championships, while Ahn will compete in the championship race for the second time. Baskir, Lakowske, senior Ashley Brasovan and junior Gabby Levac will all be making their NCAA Championships debut.
Three Atlantic Coast Conference teams will participate in Saturday's competition on the women's side, with top-ranked Florida State and No. 29 Boston College joining Duke in the hunt for a national championship. The Blue Devils and No. 20 William & Mary were the only Southeast Region teams to qualify for the meet.
Following a fifth-place showing at the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships, the Duke men received an at-large berth in Saturday's NCAA Championships. The Blue Devils will be in the NCAA Championships field for the 12th time in program history, with the most recent outing resulting in a 21st-place finish in 2010. Senior Mike Moverman, an All-ACC performer earlier this season, leads a group that also includes graduate student James Kostelnik, senior Dominick Robinsion, juniors Brian Atkinson, Christian Britto, Phil Fairleigh and Lucas Talavan-Becker and sophomore Shaun Thompson.
Joining Duke from the ACC will be No. 14 Virginia, No. 18 Florida State, No. 26 Virginia Tech and No. 28 NC State. The Blue Devils are also one of three Southeast Region squads, in addition to Virginia, No. 17 Eastern Kentucky, NC State and Virginia Tech, to qualify.
This season marks the first time since 2010 that both the Blue Devil men's and women's squads qualified for the NCAA Championships in the same year, as Duke is one of 14 schools to have both teams earn a bid to the national championship race.