The Blue Devils have created a tradition of success at the Armory Collegiate Invitational in N.Y.—one that they hope to carry on this weekend as they travel north to compete in the Invitational once again. This time, however, many of the athletes are looking to do more than just win their races.
“Everyone here is pretty good: you have to be good to get to this meet,” director of track and field Norm Ogilvie said. “Everyone here also has goals for later in the season. I would say it’s the highest-level regular season meet in the country.”
Each year, the team heads to the Armory Invite with a group of athletes that have been selected to make the trip due to their outstanding performances in previous meets and practices. This season, 35 Blue Devils have been chosen to represent Duke against a strong field of athletes from more than 100 universities.
“I found out I was coming immediately after my 4x800m race at Virginia Tech, and then practice went well so things didn’t change too much after that,” sophomore Henry Farley said. “Last year I definitely felt like I ran two of my best races at the Armory, so I’m excited to [try] again and hopefully [set a personal record].”
Each athlete is approaching the meet with a certain goal in mind. For Farley, that goal is running the first leg of the 4x800m race fast enough to be able to represent Duke in February at the Millrose Games—a highly competitive and historic meet that pairs a professional competition with high school and collegiate events. Competing at the games means an opportunity to race in front of thousands of track and field fans and a live television audience.
For others, such as graduate student Cydney Ross—who gave up her spot on the women’s 4x400m relay for a chance to compete in the distance medley relay—the Armory Invitational presents an opportunity to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships. Ross will be joined by teammates Anima Banks, Abby Farley and Elizabeth Kerpon.
Taking Ross’s place in the 4x400m relay will be junior Hannah Goranson. Goranson, who previously competed in the 400m hurdles, is eager to try her hand at the event in such a competitive setting.
“I recently switched [from just hurdles to the 400m race] and I’ve done a lot of training in the 400 this year so we’re hoping I can run some fast times,” Goranson said. “The relay… is a lot harder. I never had the endurance, but with this endurance training I’ve been doing I think it will go really well.”
Goranson, Ross and Farley will be joined by several other high-level competitors—such as senior Michelle Anumba who holds several school records in the throws and senior Mike Moverman who will be competing in the championship 3,000m race.
Although going to the Invitational means intense competition and the pressure of living up to previous performances, the athletes and coaches see this as motivation rather than a cause for nervousness.
“It’s always been very competitive and it’s always produced great performances,” Ogilvie said. “That’s why we come here.”