CHAPEL HILL -- The Blue Devil specialties of pole vault and medium-to-long-distance track events were Duke's saving grace at the ACC Indoor Track and Field Championships this weekend.
As the men's team tied for seventh and the women rounded out the pack at ninth, several Blue Devil's picked up personal bests and tested Duke records.
Setting the pace for the team this weekend was sophomore Brent Warner, who cleared a personal best 16'5" on his final attempt to take third behind Florida State's Jeff Atkinson and UNC's Brent Callaway.
"Coming in third against those guys who beat me is nothing to be ashamed of," Warner said. "I just wanted to get back on track after an injury last year."
He added that he came close at the 16'8"--a height he has only just begun working on.
"I felt really good about that. It's a bigger pole that I just started working on this week. That should come pretty quickly," Warner said.
Men's coach Norm Ogilivie said he looked to see Warner clear 17 feet by the end of the season, surpassing Duke's school record of 16'9". His performance this weekend ranks him third among all Blue Devils.
Placing fifth in the pole vault was sophomore Jeff Buttacio, who cleared 15'5", a personal best for him in college.
For the women, freshman Laura Chen showed great promise, finishing fourth place after going out at 12'3".
Duke's distance runners--another cornerstone of the team--ran a few personal bests, but seemed uncomfortable with their distances often making breaks too early and falling deep into the pack by the last lap.
Ogilivie attributed this to stiff ACC competition, exhaustion from previous events and wanting to save his athletes for IC4A competition in Boston Mar. 3.
In the men's mile, for example, senior Brendan Wells made a pass to the front on the third lap, where he stayed for most of the run before slipping to the back. Still Duke was able to run three athletes in the race--more than any other school. Senior Bill Spierdowis and freshman Nick Schneider picked up fourth and fifth place respectively.
The women's runners, even though the team finished in ninth, picked up several personal bests. In the 400-meter dash, Jenna Turner outpaced the Duke school record, finishing 10th with a time of 17:14.42. On a very strong start, senior Katie Atlas ran a seasonal best in the women's 800-meter run, finishing eighth with a 2:12.36 time. Finally, freshman Paris Edwards ran Duke's all-time fifth fastest 5,000-meter time at 17:14.42 for a 10th place finish.
Although women's coach Jan Samuelson-Ogilivie was unavailable for comment, her husband, the men's coach, relayed that although the team finished with less points this year than last, she felt the team had a higher quality meet, with numerous personal bests.