Notre Dame, Ind. – Following a first-place finish at the Adidas XC Challenge two weeks earlier, Duke’s fourth-ranked women’s cross country team will travel to Notre Dame, Ind., Friday, Oct. 4, to compete in the 58th running of the Notre Dame Invitational. The competitors will cover 5,000 meters of Notre Dame’s golf course.
Duke’s women’s head coach, Kevin Jermyn, hopes the invitational will provide his runners with experience that will translate into strong performances come November.
“The goal is to get ready for our championship meets,” Jermyn said. “It’s certainly disappointing that a few of our kids are sick and won’t get a chance to compete, but we try to find as many practice opportunities in a crowded field against other high-level teams as possible. The competition helps us control our excitement. We have ten kids competing this weekend, so they’ll get really good, real-life experience of things you can’t get in practice. That’ll help us get more comfortable in that environment. I guess the goal is to get them in a less comfortable, less familiar environment, especially for some of the younger runners who haven’t been to a true national-level meet, to get them used to what it’s going to feel like in a large pack at 2k or 3k. We’ll take that experience and go practice with it, and take it into the next race, and just repeat that cycle to see how mentally and physically ready we can get.”
Duke will face a number of nationally-ranked ACC opponents in the women’s blue division of the Notre Dame Invitational, including No. 2 Florida State and No. 19 Notre Dame. The Seminoles earned last year’s team victory after placing five runners in the top 15 and scoring 29 points. In addition to nationally-ranked conference opponents, Duke will also compete against several nationally-ranked nonconference opponents, including No. 15 New Mexico, No. 24 San Francisco, No. 28 BYU and No. 30 Princeton.
In addition to the competition Duke will face Friday, Jermyn believes the course also allows the team to prepare for the ACC, regional and national championships in November.
“[The course] is flat, fast, but narrow,” Jermyn said. “It was built as a golf course and they fit in a cross country race. They have a lot of people that come to the meet, so it gets crowded and competitive and people will get out fast and stay out front. To some degree, it’s some of the same things we’ll see later in the season, so I’m excited to see what [the team] gets out of the race mentally, in terms of what was challenging about it and what we can improve.”
Due to illness, the Blue Devils will be without the freshman tandem of Wesley Frazier and Hannah Meier, two of the squad’s top-three finishers from the Adidas XC Challenge. Jermyn views this weekend as an opportunity for the Blue Devils to exhibit the team’s depth.
“We have a lot of good runners, and we don’t know who’s going to be on the line in November, so it’s good to get everyone experience.”
The Blue Devil lineup will feature graduate student Juliet Bottorff, who is coming off a record-setting performance at the Adidas XC Challenge. The Newark, Del., native covered the 5,000m WakeMed Soccer Park cross country course in a record time of 16:28.9.
Following a seventh-place finish at the Adidas XC Challenge Sept. 20, freshman Haley Meier will participate in the second collegiate cross country meet of her career Friday. In her first collegiate race, Meier crossed the line in a time of 17:31.3, besting her previous personal record of 17:54.
Sophomore Anima Banks and junior Julianna Miller will also compete for Duke on Friday, following fifth and sixth-place finishes, respectively, on the Blue Devils squad at the Adidas XC Challenge. Banks placed ninth overall in a time of 17:38.4, while Miller clocked a time of 17:39.4 and finished tenth overall. Banks, predominately an 800m runner during the indoor and outdoor track & field seasons, competed in just two cross country meets last year, recording times of 18:16 at the Three Stripe Invitational and 18:27.1 at the Queens Royals XC Challenge. The Adidas XC Challenge marked Miller’s first competition since earning team freshman of the year honors in 2011.
After placing 12th, 13th and 23rd respectively at the Adidas XC Challenge, senior Ashley Berry and sophomores Madison Granger and Allison Sturges will once again toe the line for the Blue Devils. A product of Paget, Bermuda, Berry ran a 17-second personal record, improving her previous best of 18:09.5. Both Granger and Sturges made their cross country debuts for the Blue Devils at the Adidas XC Challenge, with Granger recording a personal best time of 17:57.0, and Sturges crossing the line in a time of 18:27.3.
The contingent of graduate student Sophia Ziemian, freshman Grace Chang and junior Abby Farley round out the Duke competitors attending Friday’s meet. Chang and Farley will enter their third meet of the season, following performances in the Bull City Classic and the Adidas XC Challenge, while Ziemian will compete in her second meet of the year, following an 18:33.7 performance two weeks earlier.
The women’s blue division race is slated for a 4:15 p.m. start.
A Notre Dame Invite program is available here.