DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke University men’s cross country team has an opportunity to preview the NCAA Division I Championship course Saturday, Oct. 19, when the Blue Devils travel to Terre Haute, Ind., to compete in the NCAA Pre-Nationals. The Pre-Nationals takes place on the 8,000-meter LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course, at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center.
Duke men’s head cross country coach Norm Ogilvie will field seven runners in the blue, seeded race and an additional three runners in the men’s open race. The men’s blue race showcases some of the top-ranked teams in the country, including No. 1 Oklahoma State, No. 2 Colorado, No. 4 Oregon, No. 9 Tulsa, No. 10 Princeton, No. 19 Boise State and No. 29 Stanford.
“That’s why you go here,” Ogilvie said. “You go to face the best teams in the country.”
Graduate student Mike Moverman and junior Shaun Thompson, both compete in their second race of the season Saturday. Moverman and Thompson earned a spot on the Pre-Nationals roster after finishing fifth and seventh respectively at the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational Sept. 28. Both Moverman and Thompson ran a personal-best time, with Moverman covering the 8,000m distance in 23:56.8 and Thompson, less than a second behind, finishing in 23:57.1. Moverman led the Blue Devils to a fifth-place finish at last year’s Pre-Nationals in Louisville, Ky., finishing 39th in a time of 23:58.0. Thompson clocked 24:03.5 to finish third on the Blue Devil squad and 50th overall.
Senior Brian Atkinson also looks to contribute for Duke at Terre Haute. The Melbourne Beach, Fla., native has put together a consistent 2013 season thus far, recording nearly identical finishing times of 24:08.5 and 24:08.1 in his first two competitions of the season. Duke’s second finisher at last year’s Pre-Nationals competition, Atkinson finished 48th overall in a time of 24:02.1.
Similar to Atkinson, senior Lucas Talavan-Becker enters Saturday’s competition following two consistent performances. A product of South San Francisco, Calif., Talavan-Becker toes the line for the third time this season, following a 24:33.6 effort at the Furman XC Challenge and a finishing time of 24:35.3 at the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational.
The contingent of sophomore William Rooney, senior Christian Britto and junior Brian Schoepfer rounds out the seven runners competing in the seeded race on Saturday. Rooney has competed in three of the Blue Devils’ four meets this season, with his best showing at the Furman XC Challenge. Hailing from Darien, Conn., Rooney finished 15th at Furman in a time of 24:30.5. Britto, who raced in the unseeded Pre-Nationals meet last year, finished sixth on the Blue Devils’ squad in each of his last two appearances. Schoepfer earned the seventh and final position last weekend after the Princeton Junction, N.J., native captured the Royal Cross Country Challenge individual title last weekend in a personal-best time of 25:09.2.
The trio of freshman Stephen Shine, sophomore Blake Udland and junior Nate McClafferty competes in the open race for the Blue Devils on Saturday. Shine is one of only two Blue Devils to compete in all four meets this season, including a first-place finish at the Bull City Classic, a third-place finish at the Royal Cross Country Challenge and a 15th-place finish at the Furman XC Challenge. Udland, the second Blue Devil to compete in each meet during the 2013 campaign, recorded a personal-best time of 24:44.7 at the Furman XC Challenge Sept. 14 and is coming off a second-place overall finish at the Royal Cross Country Challenge. McClafferty’s most recent result included a fifth-place performance at the Royal Cross Country Challenge, where the Wernersville, Pa., native crossed the line in a time of 25:12.5.
The men’s 8,000m blue race starts at 11 a.m. with the open race following at 1:30 p.m.