SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The Duke women’s cross country team raced to a fifth-place finish at the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Ind., Friday afternoon scoring a total of 182 points to secure a top-five team finish in a 19-team field.
“Today was a great start for the squad,” said head coach Rhonda Riley. “I’m pleased with fifth in this field of competition and know we have more room to grow and continue to define ourselves as a program.”
Sophomore Michaela Reinhart led the way for Duke on Friday, finishing 23rd overall with a time of 17:21.12 to mark her third career first-place finish for the Blue Devils. In their collegiate debuts, the freshman duo of Sara Platek and Monica Hebner were next to cross the finish line, with Platek (17:25.37) finishing 26th overall and Hebner (17:41.52) placing 40th.
Junior Lindsay Billings and senior Kim Hallowes rounded out Duke’s top-five runners of the afternoon, finishing with times of 17:47.20 and 17.47.25, respectively to record top-50 overall finishes, ranking in the top-third of Friday’s competitive field. Sophomore Amanda Beach was not far behind, finishing 54th overall with a time of 17:50.93 in her first competition of the fall season.
Also making her collegiate debut was freshman Clara Savchik, who finished 77th with a time of 18:09.70. Senior Gabrielle Richichi and freshman Elizabeth Reneau were the final two Duke finishers to cross, with Richichi posting a time of 18:31.57, and Reneau recording a time of 18:37.75 to close out the competition in South Bend.
The Blue Devils also sent seven runners to the Queens City Invite, earning a first-place team victory in the 29-team competition.
“The team did a good job of being patient in the heat,” said assistant coach Daniel Goetz. “It was warm today around 83 at race time. The team did a good job of being patient in the heat. As a group, they moved up quite a bit in the second half. For a lot of them, it was the first time racing in a while. They showed a lot of smart competitiveness that we like to see.”
In her first competition in two years, senior co-captain Liz Lansing posted an impressive performance, finishing in third place overall with a time of 17:35 as the first Duke runner to cross the finish line. In addition to Lansing, junior Sarah Armstrong also notched a top-10 overall finish for the Blue Devils, finishing sixth overall with a time of 17:47.
The senior duo of Olivia Gwynn and Sheridan Wilbur were the next two Duke runners, finishing simultaneously with a time of 18:00, to place 14th and 16th overall, respectively. Also securing a top-five finish for the Blue Devils was redshirt freshman Helen Williams, who recorded a time of 18:24 for a 25th place finish.
Junior Veronica Brtek and freshman Ellen Hirsberg were the final two Blue Devils to cross, with Brtek notching a time of 18:55 and Hirsberg finishing with a time of 19:21 to close out the first-place squad.
Duke will have a brief break in action, taking the upcoming week off before traveling down the road to Greenville, N.C., on Oct. 12, to take part in the Pirate Invite.