DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke women’s cross country team travels to Louisville, Ky., for the 40th running of the ACC Championships on Friday. The women’s six-kilometer contest, set to take place at the E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park, begins at 11:03 a.m., with live coverage of the event on ACC Network Extra.
Freshmen Amanda Beach and Michaela Reinhart have been the top performers for Duke this season and will be making their ACC Championships debuts on Friday. Beach has been the top Duke finisher in three meets this season while Reinhart performed the feat once. The pair both ran personal bests at the Paul Short Invitational on Sept. 29 with Reinhart finishing in 20:33 to come in 25th and Beach clocking a time of 20:35 to take 28th place. Reinhart was also named ACC Freshman of the Week after her performance in the season opening Bull City Classic. Joining her classmates in making her postseason debut will be Leigha Torino. Torino raced at the six-kilometer distance at the ECU Pirates Invitational on Oct. 13 and finished in 12th place.
“I’m expecting them to do what they’ve done all season and that’s race,” said head coach Rhonda Riley. “There’s not a lot of instruction that they need. They’re just competitors. If they can do exactly what they’ve been doing, we’ll see good results.”
Duke will have three runners with experience at the ACC Championships. Sophomore Sophia Parvizi-Wayne finished in 15th place at the 2016 edition to earn All-ACC honors, while classmate Lindsay Billings and junior Sheridan Wilbur were the second and sixth Duke finishers respectively. Parvizi-Wayne and Billings have taken the start in two races this season, with Parvizi-Wayne finishing as the third Blue Devil in each race, including a season best time of 20:54 at the Paul Short Invitational. Billings was right behind her at the Paul Short and ran a season best 21:06. Wilbur is coming off a sixth place finish at the ECU Pirates Invite in her last race.
“They’re going into this race a little more confident and know what to expect,” Riley said. “We’re looking at them for leadership with that experience to help the younger runners. They have a little bit better perspective of what’s going to take place.”
Junior co-captain Olivia Gwynn and classmate Kim Hallowes will make their ACC Championships debut this weekend. Although Hallowes has not run in the ACC Championships, she has experience in the postseason as she raced at the 2015 Southeast Regional Championships. Both Hallowes and Gwynn have broken personal bests this season, with Hallowes clocking a time of 21:10 at the Paul Short Invitational and Gwynn set her own personal mark at Pre Nationals last weekend.
“Having juniors this year is a big difference than last year,” said Riley “They’ve done a great job of leading by example and really helping the younger ones and created a very close knit team dynamic.”
The 15 team field will be headlined by defending champion NC State. The Wolfpack are currently ranked fifth in the nation and are one of 13 teams ranked in the top 15 of their respective regions. One advantage that Duke will have is a familiarity of the course, as six of the Blue Devils competing this weekend ran the same course two weeks ago when competing in Pre Nationals.
“The reason we went to Pre-Nationals was to see where we were at against national level competition, but also for this preview of the course,” Riley added. “It’s going to benefit the women because they realize where they could have pushed harder or if they made some mistakes, we’re going to be able to correct that. I’d say from a confidence perspective, they’re more familiar with the course which will hopefully lead to really good results.”
Live results of the competition can be found on Flashresults.com.