Duke earns four silvers at Penn
Last year, the Blue Devils turned in a historic performance at the Penn Relays, collecting two championships and six school records at one of the season’s biggest meets. This year the athletes earned four second-place finishes before leaving Franklin Field in Philadelphia.
As the competition began Thursday, Shannon Sullivan stepped up to earn the first of Duke’s second-place finishes with her throw of 47.11m in the Championship of America Javelin.
Just an hour after Sullivan competed, senior Amy Fryt took fourth in the pole vault in her final Penn Relays appearance with a vault of 4.10m. Later in the day, freshmen Lauren Hansson, Elizabeth Kerpon and Alexis Roper joined senior Brittany Whitehead to continue the success on the women’s side with a time of 3:42.45 in the 4x400m relay. That time earned them a spot in the ECAC final on the following day, during which they collectively ran 3:41.18 to earn another second-place finish for the Blue Devils.
The men mirrored the women’s success, taking home two second-place finishes of their own. The first came during Duke’s opening day of the relays when junior Dominick Robinson ran 9:05.57 in the College Men’s 3000m Steeplechase. Despite taking the lead in the last lap, he was passed by Texas A&M’s Isaac Spencer just before crossing the finish line.
Duke’s last silver medal came from the field, where senior Michael Barbas threw 17.37m in the shotput. Although his throw was good enough to take second place in the event, for Barbas it was not enough.
“The competition is so great. Basically, a lot of the best throwers in the country are in the meet,” Barbas said. “I didn’t feel sharp…. It just made me hungry to get through finals and get ready for regionals in about a month.”
Barbas was not the only athlete on the men’s side to experience a let down at the relays. Both the distance medley relay and the 4xMile, events for which Duke had high expectations, were unable to achieve their goals of medaling. The distance medley relay team of Stephen Clark, Ben Raskin, Curtis Beach and Domenick DeMatteo got off to a slow start in the first leg and was unable to catch up, finishing 13th overall.
On the other hand, the 4xMile team of Nate McClafferty, Andrew Brodeur, DeMatteo and Morgan Pearson got off to a good start and after a 4:06.9 second leg from Brodeur appeared in good shape. During the third leg though, a chance collision caused DeMatteo to fall, costing the Duke team precious time. And although DeMatteo was able to recover and pass the baton to Pearson, they had lost too much ground and finished in ninth place.
“The baton hit the rail and skipped into the infield. It was a slow motion nightmare to watch.” director of track and field Norm Ogilvie said.
Regardless of this misfortune, Ogilvie is satisfied with the way his athletes performed in perhaps the highest-profile meet of the year.
“Everyone wants to look good at the Penn Relays but very few people actually do,” Ogilvie said. “It’s very competitive, so to come away with four silver medals is solid.”