For many members of the men's outdoor track and field team, the season never ends. Most of the athletes on Duke's squad are currently in the midst of a successful run of indoor track meets and the distance runners -- who comprised Duke's most successful cross country team over a decade this fall -- have been training continuously since early last summer.
"We hope to continue the strides which we began in cross country and which we are continuing in indoor track," assistant coach Norm Ogilvie said.
The team's goals this season are to qualify as many athletes as possible for the Intercollegiate Amateur Athletic Association of America (IC4A) meet at the end of the season and to have a strong showing at the Atlantic Coast Conference meet in April.
The Blue Devils should be led by their middle distance and distance runners, most of whom have shared in the success of the cross country and indoor track teams. Duke's strongest distance events should be the 1,500-meters, the 5,000-meters and the steeplechase.
Juniors Pat Kelly and Miles Hall should be Duke's top 1,500-meter runners this season. Both runners hope to qualify for IC4A's in this event. Kelly has already qualified in the 1,000-meters in indoor track.
This spring two Blue Devils, freshman Darin Mellinger and junior Brian Sydow, will try out the steeplechase, a distance race in which runners must contend with obstacles.. Sydow and Mellinger both competed for the cross country team this fall. This experience may help them as they prepare to compete in a different event.
"We are real interested to see how Brian and Darin can do in the steeplechase," Ogilvie said. "This is their first time competing in the event, but I think they can score [points] in the ACC meet. Brian looks like a natural steeplechaser. Darin is a hard worker."
Senior Kevin Hilton, who along with Mellinger was a leader of the cross country squad, will be Duke's top competitor in the 5000. Freshman Matt Haywood should also be a solid runner at this distance.
Another pair of freshmen, Scott Wolckenhauer and J.R. Lockwood, have emerged as the Blue Devils best threats in the 800-meter run.
"It will be interesting to see what some of the freshmen can do," Ogilvie said. "We will get a chance to see how they come along as freshmen."
Even more freshmen should be contributing in the sprint events. Jason Manse is the team's best 400-meter runner and Paul Kim will compete in short sprints.
Duke's best short sprinter should be junior Michael Coles. Sophomore Mark Blakemore will compete in both the intermidiate hurdles and the high hurdles for the Blue Devils.
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Two football players will finally have an opportunity to test their prowess in track and field this spring. Junior Gil Winters, who was nationally-ranked in the javelin throw in high school, will participate in that event for the Duke squad.
"He has the potential to be a [point] scorer in the ACC [meet]," Ogilvie said.
Junior Tijan Redmon, a tailback on the football team, will attempt to demonstrate his overall athleticism by competing in the decathlon during the spring track and field season. Redmon participated in the event in high school and will probably compete twice this season -- the maximum number of times a decathlete may try the event in a college season. He will also be one of Duke's best long jumpers.
The Blue Devils hope that senior Matt Anderson will be able to score points in the ACC meet in the pole vault. Senior Plym Nelson, a shot putter, should be another of Duke's premier field event competitors.
Duke's strong middle distance runners should also be able to comprise some strong relay teams. In particular, the 4x800-meter squad has lofty expectations. In addition to qualifying for the IC4A's and scoring points in the ACC meet, the members of the team, led by Kelly and junior Doug Kling, has its eyes set on the all-time Duke record in the event. The mark of 7:34.1 was set in 1971 by a team which was anchored by Olympian Bob Wheeler.
The distance medley relay should also be a strength for the Blue Devils.
The first big meet in which Duke will compete is the Florida State Relays on Mar. 18-19.
"The Florida State meet will hopefully set the tone for a successful season," Ogilvie said.
After returning from Florida, the Blue Devils will host the Duke Invitational at Wallace Wade Stadium on Apr. 8-9. The meet, which is a highlight of Duke's track season, is expected to draw about 1,000 athletes from NCAA Division I and II schools and independent clubs throughout the east coast.
"We look for really good performances from our athletes at the Duke Invitational," Ogilvie said. "It's their one chance to compete at home during the season."
The following weekend, the Blue Devils have a tri-meet with Maryland and Wake Forest in Winston-Salem. This meet will give the team a chance to see where it stands in the conference a week before the ACC championships at N.C. State in Raleigh. The ACC meet is held the weekend before finals week at Duke, which is not the ideal time for its athletes to have one of its most important competitions of the season.
"We're concerned that [finals] will take away from the focus which some guys will put on [the ACC meet]," Ogilvie said. "You have to make the best of the situation which you are given."
The Blue Devils, who finished ninth in the conference in outdoor track and field last season, hope to score enough points to challenge Maryland for eighth place in the ACC.