DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke men’s cross country team is set to enter its first championship meet of the 2017 season on Friday, traveling to Louisville, Ky., for the ACC Championships. The eight-kilometer distance, run on E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park, will serve as the host for the 15 team field, with the race scheduled to begin at 10:03 a.m. Live coverage of the event is available on ACC Network Extra.
Duke’s 10 competitor team is headlined by junior co-captain Nikhil Pulimood and a trio of freshmen. Pulimood has been the top Duke finisher in two of the three races he has started this season, including his first collegiate victory at the Winthrop Invitational. Pulimood has experience competing in the ACC Championships, as he represented Duke in the 2015 and 2016 editions.
“Nikhil is capable of being an All-ACC performer, I think he can definitely earn that,” said head coach Norm Ogilvie. “What we’re hoping is that he can drag some guys with him. If we can get a handful of guys in the top 20, we’re going to be a very, very good team. The high end is certainly important.”
Paul Dellinger, Alex Miley, Michael Ungvarsky, and Josh Romine will all compete at the ACC Championships in their rookie campaigns. Dellinger earned ACC Freshmen of the Week earlier this season, and has been among the top two Duke finishers twice, including finishing in third place at the Winthrop Invitational. All four set new personal bests in their last race, including Miley leading Duke with a time of 24:40.40 to finish in sixth place at the ECU Pirates Invitational.
“I don’t know what to expect, but I do know what they’re capable of,” said Ogilvie. “They’re capable of running as well as any freshmen in the conference. I think it’s going to be a highlight for us. Which freshman will rise to the top, we’re not really sure, it could be any of them.”
Sophomores Cole Hoff, Matt Wisner, and Tom Sullivan, all fresh off personal best times at the ECU Pirates Invite, are set to run at the ACC Championships. Hoff ran a time of 24:52.00 to finish in 10th at ECU, while Wisner crossed the finish line in 24:55.81 to come in 14th. Sullivan and Hoff both have experience running in championship races as the pair competed in the 2016 ACC Championships.
“Wisner, Sullivan, and Hoff have really come on well of late and they’re the big X-factor for us,” Ogilvie said. “If they run for us like they have in the last few weeks, we’re going to be very good.”
Rounding out the Duke runners are senior Jordan Burton and junior Stephen Garrett. Burton has been the fourth Duke finisher in two of his three races this season, including a fifth place finish at the Winthrop Invitational. Both Burton and Garrett will join Pulimood as the most experienced Blue Devils, as all three are competing in their third ACC Championships race. Garrett was the only Blue Devil to finish ahead of Pulimood at the 2016 edition, as he led Duke with a 35th place finish with a personal best time of 24:15.3.
The field will be one of the most competitive in the country, as there will be three nationally ranked squads, including fourth-ranked and defending champion Syracuse. Virginia Tech is ranked 11th in the nation, while NC State sits 22nd, with 11 squads ranked in the top 15 of their respective regions.
Live results for the meet are available at Flashresults.