DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke men’s cross country team will have one final tune up as it begins preparations for the ACC Cross Country Championships later this month. The Blue Devils will split the squad this weekend, competing in both the ECU Pirates Invitational and Pre-Nationals.
First up this weekend will be the ECU Pirates Invite, which will take place Friday, Oct. 12. The Blue Devils will send nine runners to Greenville, N.C., with the eight-kilometer race slated to begin at 5:20 p.m.
Five of Duke’s top six finishers in the Great American Cross Country Festival will get the start in the Pirates Invite, looking to build on their solid performances a week ago where they led the Blue Devils to a first-place team finish.
Junior Matt Wisner and senior Stephen Garrett posted solid outings at the Great American XC Festival, finishing third and fourth, respectively, as part of Duke’s three top-five overall finishers in the race. The Blue Devils placed two more runners inside the top 10 with sophomore Ethan Ready, who finished seventh, and freshman Carter Dillon, who placed 10th to earn ACC Freshman of the Week honors. Freshman Will Dixon was not far behind, finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th place with a time of 25:51.4 in the first 8K race of his collegiate career.
Also competing in Greenville will be the trio of Alex Miley, Tom Sullivan and Michael Ungvarsky. All three eclipsed personal-bests in the ECU Pirates Invite a season ago, including a sixth-place overall finish from Miley to lead Duke to a win in 2017. Junior AJ Eckmann will round out the Blue Devils’ lineup Friday, looking to build upon his top-30 overall finish in the Elon Opener.
The ECU Pirates Invitational will be held on the Lake Kristi Cross Country Course as Duke looks to capture its third consecutive win of the season.
Duke will send its top seven finishers from the Roy Griak Invitational to Wisconsin for the 2018 Wisconsin Pre-Nationals on Saturday morning. The Blue Devils will be one of 36 teams competing in the seeded Cardinal Race, which includes 10 nationally-ranked teams and three more squads that are currently receiving votes.
The Blue Devils will be led by sophomore Paul Dellinger and senior captain Nikhil Pulimood, who have been the top two finishers for Duke in each of their two races this season. Most recently, Dellinger notched an eighth-place overall finish in the Roy Griak Invite, while Pulimood finished right behind in ninth place.
Joining the duo of Dellinger and Pulimood will be the foursome of Cole Hoff, CJ Ambrosio, Charles Cooper and Josh Romine. Hoff and Ambrosio were the third and fourth Blue Devils to cross in the Roy Griak, proving to be deciding factors in a first-place win for Duke over the host-team Minnesota, while Cooper and Romine each posted top-30 overall finishes. Chris Theodore will fill Duke’s seventh and final spot, serving as the lone freshman for the Blue Devils in Saturday’s competition.
The 2018 Wisconsin Pre-Nationals will be held on the Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course, which opened in 2009. Duke enters the weekend with a 34-1 overall record as the seventh-ranked team in the Southeast Region, while also receiving votes in the national poll as well.