DURHAM, N.C. – The 28th-ranked Duke men’s cross country team will participate in the first invitational of the season as the Blue Devils travel to Greenville, S.C. to compete in the Furman University Cross Country Classic. The men’s 8,000-meter race, held on Furman University’s golf course, is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 14 at 9 a.m.
Duke’s men’s cross country coach Norm Ogilvie is confident in the team’s early season ability to compete at a high level against stout competition.
“Our main goal is to go down to Furman to win,” Ogilvie said. “We’ll be severely tested by Georgia, who is a top team nationally in the receiving votes category. They would be ranked 31st if the USTFCCCA ranked more than 30 teams, and Georgia is No. 3 in the South region. It will be a good test for our team, and also a chance for our freshmen and sophomores to prove how good they are and perhaps earn a trip to Virginia in two weeks, where we’ll run the top 10 runners from the Furman race.”
Duke will face a total of 22 schools Saturday, including ACC opponents Clemson and Georgia Tech. Duke enters the meet ranked highest among the field, beginning the season No. 28 in the USTFCCCA preseason poll. Additional teams of note include Georgia, which missed an appearance on the Division I preseason rankings by just four votes, Benedict, which ranks 29th in Division III preseason polls and Mount Olive, which ranks 21st in Division II preseason polls.
The Blue Devils return the core of last year’s nationally qualified team, including senior Brian Atkinson, graduate student Mike Moverman, junior Shaun Thompson, senior Lucas Talavan-Becker and senior Christian Britto. As the team prepares for the first full-squad competition of the season, co-captain Atkinson feels the post-season experience of last year will benefit every member of the team, not just those who competed at the national championship meet.
“I think mentally, having guys who know what it’s like [to compete at the national level], and who can tell the younger guys, and get them ready from first-hand experience, will be big,” Atkinson said. “And then there’s the factor of physically having gone through another year. I think we’re just better prepared both physically and mentally.”
Along with the experienced group of returning runners, the Blue Devils also welcome freshman Stephen Shine. The Briarcliff, N.Y. native captured a win at the Bull City Classic Aug. 31, recording a time of 19:11 over 6,000-meters in the first collegiate race of his career. The sophomore contingent of William Hague, William Rooney and Blake Udland also put in solid performances at the meet against N.C. Central and will look to build on the foundation laid during their freshman seasons.
For the freshmen, this will be the first 8,000-meter race of their career, which Ogilvie believes will provide a good learning experience for the younger runners. Ogilvie says the team is entering the Furman competition with two goals.
“We are definitely approaching the meet as an opportunity to come together as a team and to learn how to win a larger meet,” he said.
For additional information on the Furman XC Classic, visit the meet website here.