DURHAM, N.C. - The Duke women’s cross country team will split up for the weekend as the Blue Devils race in both the Paul Short Invitational in Bethlehem, Pa., and the Royals Challenge in Charlotte, N.C. Both races will take place on Friday with the Paul Short Women’s College Gold 6K Race scheduled for 11:45 a.m., and the Royals Challenge Women’s 5K race starting at 4 p.m.
Duke will send seven runners to the Paul Short Invitational, including two making their 2017 debuts. Freshmen Amanda Beach and Michaela Reinhart will be running in their third race of the season after finishing as the top two Duke runners in their first two outings. Both ran personal best times in their last race as Beach ran the Adidas Cross Country Invitational 5K course in 17:07.3 to finish in fourth while Reinhart clocked a time of 17:12.4 to come in fifth place. The freshmen will be joined by juniors Kim Hallowes and Sheridan Wilbur as well as sophomore Sarah Armstrong. Hallowes has been among the top five Duke finishers in both races this season while Wilbur and Armstrong were the third and fifth Duke finishers respectively at the Adidas Invitational.
“We’re looking forward to seeing what their fitness is like, and just seeing them compete,” said head coach Rhonda Riley. “It’s a better field than we had two weeks ago and so they will have to challenge themselves. What we’re really looking for is to see just how this team stacks up against some nationally ranked teams.”
Sophomores Sophia Parvizi-Wayne and Lindsay Billings will be making their 2017 debuts at the Paul Short Invitational. Parvizi-Wayne is coming off a freshman season where she finished 15th at the 2016 ACC Cross Country Championships to earn All-ACC honors. Billings was the second Duke finisher at both the 2016 ACC Cross Country Championships and the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships during her rookie campaign.
“This is the first time we will run our full squad and so seeing the dynamics between Sophia, Amanda, and Michaela will be great,” Riley said. “We hope to see them pack up together and then rest of the team to follow, and they shouldn’t be too far behind.”
Three Duke runners will compete at the Royals Challenge. Junior co-captain Olivia Gwynn as well as sophomore Veronica Brtek and freshman Leigha Torino will represent the Blue Devils in Charlotte. Gwynn started the year strong with a third place finish in the Bull City Classic while Torino was right behind her in fourth place. Brtek finished just outside of the top ten in 11th place in the same race.
“It’s a great opportunity for these young ladies to compete as well,” commented Riley. “We’re looking for them to just push themselves and see if we can have improvement from two weeks ago.”
The Paul Short will have the most crowded field Duke has seen so far this season. 44 teams will compete in the race, headlined by No. 15 Villanova. No. 21 Utah State and No. 24 Mississippi State will also compete while there will be 20 teams that are ranked in the top 15 of their respective regions. Duke is ranked 11th in the Southeast Region for the second straight week.