DURHAM, N.C. - Duke sophomore Kelsey Lakowske earned the first All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors of her career with a sixth-place finish at the 2012 ACC Cross Country Championships. Lakowske's performance also helped the Blue Devil women take second overall at the conference meet. This week, Duke heads to the NCAA Southeast Regional at McAlpine Park in Matthews, N.C.
Fans interested in supporting the Blue Devils at the NCAA Southeast Regional Friday should contact assistant coach Tom Cuffe (firstname.lastname@example.org) about riding a fan bus to the meet. Cost for riding the bus to and from the competition will be $20.
Lakowske took time away from her preparations this week to talk about her success this season and what the team is hoping to accomplish the rest of the way.
GoDuke.com: How did you feel about your individual performance at the ACC Championships two weeks ago?
Kelsey Lakowske: "I didn't have any expectations going in, and it was nice that my teammates and my coach didn't put anything on me either. That obviously gave me room to succeed in any fashion, so I was excited and feeling good. I was surprised at where I placed. I'm really excited to be running with the team and competing. It's really great to be with Juliet [Bottorff]. I think people take it for granted to have inspiration so close ... I'm grateful to have a lot of older runners to mentor me along the way."
GoDuke.com: What was your mindset during the race?
KL: "It was nice to not really have expectations. You kind of figure out how the race is going to go in maybe the first 800 meters - you can kind of scope out about where you'll be. I didn't do a whole lot of analyzing in the middle of the race. I tried to just disengage and run and enjoy it."
GoDuke.com: How did it feel to contribute to the team's second-place finish?
KL: "I'm really happy, above everything else, to be able to contribute to the team and to feel like I'm part of that momentum. I this year we have a lot more enthusiasm and belief that we can do something really special with the team. So it's really cool to be a part of that - I think that's the most exciting part for me. I don't think I would do as well without having that really great energy that everyone brings. Suejin [Ahn] has got this great energy and Gabby [Levac]'s got a lot of positivity. I think everybody is really contributing to a great dynamic and momentum."
GoDuke.com: Do you have any individual goals for the rest of the season?
KL: "I'm going to try to keep individual pressure off for now because I still have three seasons to focus on individual. I think our team has a lot of potential this year ... In a lot of cases, you can perform better when you're not focusing on yourself so much. Running can be a selfish sport, but in cross country you have the opportunity to really contribute to the team."
GoDuke.com: What kind of performance is the team anticipating at the regional meet on Friday?
KL: "I don't think we're super tense about placing. We're kind of focusing on keeping the emotional stress low for this race and saving it for nationals because earlier races took a little placing pressure off of us."
GoDuke.com: What do you enjoy most about being a part of this year's team?
KL: "It's really cool to be a part of a team that's got this enthusiasm. I feel like a lot of the girls think we can really do something and it's genuine, which is really fun. It's definitely different when you feel like everybody's really buying into it and it's exciting because everybody feeds off that energy and it just keeps growing. I think we have good momentum and good potential, and I think we can keep it fun too. It's a really neat opportunity to be able to go to these events, so I'm not taking it for granted."
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