CARY, N.C. – The fourth-ranked Duke women’s cross country team will return to action Friday, Sept. 20, to compete in the 20th running of the Adidas XC Challenge in Cary, N.C. The 5,000-meter collegiate women’s race is slated for a 6 p.m. start and will be run on the WakeMed Cross Country Course.
Duke, which enters the meet ranked No. 1 in the Southeast Region, will face ACC opponents for the first time this season, including NC State, which ranks third in the Southeast Region and North Carolina, which ranks fourth in the Southeast Region.
Duke’s women’s cross country head coach Kevin Jermyn is excited for the opportunity to compete against tough competition early in the season and feels this will benefit the team come November.
“This is an opportunity to get really good competition,” Jermyn said. “The last thing we want to do is just race against one another. We wanted to seek out strong competition to make it more realistic to how races are going to be down the road. We want to be a little nervous or a little intimidated early in the season so we’re used to it, so when we go to a bigger meet later in the season, it’s not something brand new or fresh.”
The Blue Devils return an experienced contingent from last season, including graduate student Juliet Bottorff, who enters her final cross country season for Duke. Finishing third at last year’s ACC Championship meet and second at the regional meet, Bottorff will look to once again lead the Blue Devils in 2013. Junior Kelsey Lakowske also returns for the Blue Devils, with a wealth of success in championship meets, including a sixth-place finish at the ACC Championships and a ninth-place finish at the regional championships. Junior Carolyn Baskir and graduate student Ashley Brasovan will also once again toe the line for the Blue Devils. Both Baskir and Brasovan recorded top-25 finishes at the ACC Championship meet last season, and provide the Blue Devils with experience in championship competition.
In addition to the core of last season’s squad, the Blue Devils also welcome a number of incoming freshmen that saw success at the high school level. Freshmen Haley Meier and Hannah Meier will both don the Duke singlet for the first time this season. The twins will be joined by fellow high school standout Wesley Frazier, who will also compete for the Blue Devils for the first time on Friday.
While Jermyn feels the competition at the Adidas XC Challenge affords an opportunity for his student-athletes to face stout opponents, Duke’s head coach also feels the early season meet is a useful learning experience.
“Ultimately, what we try to do is race the course, but if we don’t have good competition, sometimes the team thinks they’re just racing with each other,” Jermyn said. “By the end of the year, when we’re racing at the national championship, there’s going to be 255 people, 31 teams, and you can’t just pick out people. All you’re doing is the best you can against the course. It’s the same goal. All we can do is race smart and tough on that course, based on how the runner’s day is going.”
For additional information on the Adidas XC Challenge, please visit here.