At stake for both teams is eligibility for the 2011 NCAA Championships on Monday, Nov. 21 in Terre Haute, Ind. Nine men's teams and nine women's teams automatically qualify for the championship meet by finishing in the top two at this weekend's nine regional events, while 36 individuals automatically qualify by being one of the top four regional finishers not on an advancing team.
The Southeast Regional features 37 men's squads and 39 teams on the women's side from the Carolinas, Kentucky and Virginia, with each vying for the two automatic berths or positioning for one of the 13 at-large bids to the NCAA Championships.
The Duke men enter Saturday's meet ranked fifth in the Southeast Region in the most recent U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll after finishing tied for fourth at the ACC Championships on Oct. 29. The Blue Devils currently own a ledger of 38-15-1 on the season and 8-7-1 in ACC action heading into their first race at the 10K distance this season. Fourteenth-ranked NC State sits atop the Southeast Regional men's standings after earning the team title at the conference championships, followed by No. 25 North Carolina, No. 20 Eastern Kentucky and No. 26 Louisville.
"We feel like the team is prepared to run its best race of the season," said head coach Norm Ogilvie. "We've been training all year for the 10K distance, and we're excited to take on the challenge Saturday in Louisville."
The Blue Devil women dropped to sixth in the region after placing seventh at the ACC Championships, moving them to 74-19 on the year and 6-6 in the ACC. Twentieth-ranked NC State moved up to the top spot in the Southeast Regional rankings, while No. 21 Virginia and No. 25 North Carolina are listed second and third in the region, respectively.
"Mentally and physically, we're in a great place going into the weekend," said head coach Kevin Jermyn. "The girls are more excited than they've been all season. We have the opportunity to go out there and step up to the challenge and try to advance to the NCAA Championships."
A season ago, the Blue Devil men took second at the NCAA Southeast Regional, with four runners - James Kostelnik, Cory Nanni, Bo Waggoner and Andrew Brodeur - earning All-Region honors. Duke went on to finish 21st at the 2010 NCAA Championships. Should the men garner a trip to the 2011 NCAA Championships, it would mark the first time in program history that the team has earned a spot in the national meet for three consecutive seasons.
The women's team finished third at last year's Southeast Regional, as Juliet Bottorff, Carly Seymour and Mary Carleton Johnston were tabbed for All-Region accolades. That performance propelled the Blue Devil women to a 17th-place showing at the 2010 NCAA Championships.
William & Mary captured its third consecutive team title at the 2010 Southeast Regional, while ACC-rival Virginia won the women's race a year ago.