DURHAM, N.C. – Duke’s 17th-ranked women’s cross country team will send runners to two separate competitions this weekend, with nine Blue Devils traveling to Boone, N.C., to race at the Blue Ridge Open Friday, Oct. 18, and another 12 runners making the trip to Madison, Wis., to compete in the Wisconsin Invitational Saturday, Oct. 19.
A number of ACC opponents comprise the 26-team field that will race on the 5,000-meter Appalachian State State Farm Fields cross country course, including Wake Forest and Virginia Tech. Duke’s head women’s cross country coach Kevin Jermyn views the Blue Ridge Open as a development opportunity for some of his younger runners, as well as those who typically focus on the track & field season.
“One of the goals is to give these kids a full season to develop, rather than one or two races in the first half [of the year], since we’re going to need some of these kids come track season and also next cross country season,” Jermyn said. “Certainly, the more experience they get, the better.”
Freshmen Grace Chang and Gina Daniel, sophomore Allison Sturges and junior Abby Farley all enter the Blue Ridge Open with the most racing experience in 2013. Each of the four harriers appeared in three meets this season. Chang recorded a personal-best time of 18:32.2 on Oct. 4 en route to a 13th-place finish at the Royal Cross Country Challenge. Farley captured her first individual cross country win at the Bull City Classic Aug. 31, running a 4,000m time of 15:08. Daniel’s best performance of the season came at the Adidas XC Challenge, when the Charlotte, N.C., native ran a personal-best time of 19:21.2. After not competing during the 2012 season, Sturges finished 14th in her most recent competition, finishing the Royal Cross Country Challenge in a time of 18:34.1.
Junior Lindsey Olivere and seniors Colette Whitney and Rebecca Craigie, will all race for the second time this season. Olivere first raced Sept. 20 at the Adidas XC Challenge and finished 31st in a time of 18:45.8. Whitney and Craigie opened their 2013 season at the Royal Cross Country Challenge. Whitney placed 12th overall in a time of 18:24.9, while Craigie finished in 24th place, running a time of 19:22.2.
Senior Dana Morin will start for the Blue Devils after setting a personal-best time of 18:03.2 last weekend at the Royal Cross Country Challenge. Hailing from Sheridan, Wyo., Morin helped the Blue Devils to a second-place team finish, placing fifth overall.
Senior Brianna Welch, after competing in three meets during the 2012 cross country season, will make her 2013 season debut at the Blue Ridge Open. Welch holds a 5,000m cross country personal record of 18:25.9.
Eight hundred miles to the northwest of Boone is the fifth running of the Wisconsin Invitational. The meet boasts a stacked field, with half of the nation’s top-ranked teams toeing the line Saturday. In addition to Duke, No. 1 Providence, No. 3 Arizona, No. 4 Washington, No. 7 New Mexico, No. 8 Arkansas, No. 9 Michigan State, No. 10 San Francisco, No. 13 Dartmouth, No. 15 Cornell, No. 22 Minnesota, No. 24 Boston College, No. 26 BYU, No. 28 Iowa State, No. 29 Texas and No. 30 Notre Dame will also compete. The 6,000m race will take place on the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course located next to the University Ridge Golf Course.
“The main reason we’re heading to Wisconsin is to try to get a really massive race,” Jermyn said. “There are going to be more people in this race than the national championships. There’s about thirty of the top forty teams in the country, so we’re going to get an exaggerated effect at the halfway point of this season. Hopefully the thing we get the most out of is that when we go to the national championship, especially for the kids that haven’t been in a bigger race, they’re in a familiar territory and they feel prepared to run mentally well on that given day. We’re getting physically fitter, but you need to get mentally ready for a race most of these kids have never seen.”
Duke’s Wisconsin lineup will once again showcase graduate student Juliet Bottorff. The Newark, Del., native has won each of her first two meets this season, including a record-setting performance in her season debut at the Adidas XC Challenge in Cary, N.C. Bottorff enters the competition following a first-place finish at the Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Ind., Oct. 4. Last year, Bottorff finished eighth overall at the Wisconsin Invitational, running 6,000m under 20 minutes for the first time in her collegiate career.
After missing the Notre Dame Invitational due to illness, the freshman pair of Wesley Frazier and Hannah Meier returns to competition Saturday. The Wisconsin Invitational marks the second race of Frazier and Hannah’s collegiate careers. In her first collegiate race, Frazier placed third overall, running a time of 17:15.4, while Hannah finished fourth overall in the same competition and less than a second behind Frazier.
Sophomore Anima Banks enters Saturday’s competition after receiving high praise from Jermyn for her strong performance at the Notre Dame Invitational. An 800m specialist during the track season, Banks has run under 18 minutes for 5,000m two times this season, including a finishing time of 17:39.7 in South Bend.
Junior Julianna Miller competes Saturday after a 59th-place finish at the Notre Dame Invitational. A product of Hillsborough, N.J., Miller ran a time of 18:03.5. Miller also recorded a top-10 finish at the Adidas XC Challenge Sept. 20, running a personal best time of 17:39.4 for 5,000m.
Senior Ashley Berry, sophomore Madison Granger and freshman Haley Meier will also race for the Blue Devils Saturday. In her strongest showing of the season, Berry finished 12th at the Adidas XC Challenge, running a personal-best time of 17:52.3. The competition marked the first time the Paget, Bermuda, native ran under 18 minutes for 5,000m. Granger, participating in her first collegiate cross country season, has run times of 17:57.0 and 19:02.3 so far this season. Similar to Granger, Haley is also racing in her first collegiate cross country season and has recorded times of 17:31.3 and 18:48.8 for the 2013 campaign.
Junior Colleen Schmidt and graduate student Sophia Ziemian will compete in the “B” race for the Blue Devils. Schmidt will look to build on her performance at the Royal Cross Country Challenge from last weekend, where the Point Lookout, N.Y., native ran a personal-best time of 17:46.2 for 5,000m. Schmidt placed third overall in Charlotte and lead the Blue Devils to a second-place team finish. Ziemian, racing in her third meet of the season, has run times of 18:33.7 and 18:41.7 at the Adidas XC Challenge and the Notre Dame Invitational.
The women’s championship race is slated for a 12 p.m. start followed by the women’s “B” race, which will start at 1:20 p.m.