Duke will split up the team for this week’s competition, sending half its athletes to Austin, Texas for four days and competing with the other half in Raleigh.
After earning his second national title in the men’s heptathlon at the NCAA Indoor Championships, Beach competed last weekend at the Carolina Relays in the discus event, preparing for his first decathlon of the season Wednesday and Thursday. Three of his teammates—Clark, Elizabeth Kerpon and Karli Johonnot—will also see their third consecutive weekend of competition.
“It’s a short turnaround, but they’re in a good place,” director of track and field Norm Ogilvie said. “They want to stay sharp and ready to go.”
Beach won the decathlon at the Texas Relays last year, tallying 8,011 points in the competition’s 10 events. The redshirt senior will face Johannes Hock of Texas, the defending national champion in the event. This weekend’s competition could provide beach with his stiffest test before the ACC Championships, which are less than a month away.
“You can’t do a multi event every weekend, so they kind of have to do one now to recover for ACCs,” Ogilvie said.
Clark thrived on the short turnaround between indoor and outdoor season last weekend, recording the highest collegiate clearance in the nation this season in the pole vault of 14 feet, 7 1/4 inches. Following her performance, Clark was named ACC Performer of the Week and National Athlete of the Week Monday by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
Kerpon, a Copell, Texas native, will return to the meet she has competed in since high school. After competing in the distance medley relay at the NCAA Indoor Championships, the junior will race in front of her family and old coaches in Duke’s 4-x-100, 4-x-200 and 4-x-400 relays.
The Texas Relays meet has drawn strong competition for both collegiate and professional athletes. Notable qualifiers include Jeremy Wariner and Wallace Spearman, both World Championship medalists.
“The outdoor season gets going in a very real way this weekend,” Ogilvie said. “It’s a very large meet. The rest of the country sends their top athletes there. We are going to get our best competition.”
The Blue Devils also hope to find better weather as the outdoor season gets under way, but the athletes competing in Texas might find rain and thunderstorms in addition to warmer temperatures. These conditions may play a factor in Duke’s success Wednesday and Thursday.
For the Blue Devils remaining local, competition at the Raleigh Relays will begin Friday morning, and weather conditions could be equally wet.
“In the field events, the weather is even more crucial,” Ogilvie said. “For runners, obviously you don’t want it to be slippery and cold, but you can still soldier on even if it is wet and miserable. For the field events, you might be doomed to failure if it is wet and miserable.”