The women's track and field team is preparing to have one of its best outdoor seasons in recent history.
"Times now are much better than they have been in the past," senior co-captain Christine Gregorski said.
The Blue Devils have had many outstanding performances during the current indoor track season, which is good preparation for the upcoming outdoor season.
"Everyone has been working tremendously hard, and from that comes great results," assistant coach Scott Yakola said.
Although the times may be fast now, most runners will hope to achieve even faster times during the outdoor season. Because indoor tracks are smaller, there are more curves for the runner, which can often slow down times considerably.
This year during the outdoor season, as in the past, head coach Mike Forbes and Yakola have not set strict goals for improvement in particular meets. Instead, there is a goal of week-to-week improvement on last year's performances.
The two coaches feel that if the team's individual performances improve, the team will improve overall as a result.
"Each week is a stepping stone to achieve better times, longer throws and higher jumps," Yakola said.
This season, the team combines a solid core of seniors with a number of younger athletes.
Senior Liz Lorscheider will lead the way in the sprinting events, and in the hurdles junior Kris Stout and freshman Kirsten Johnson should pose a threat to their competitors. Standouts in the 400-meters should be Nicola Crabtree and co-captain Beth Gadkowski, who is recovering from a hamstring pull.
A strong middle-distance crew returns, led by seniors Jeanne McFeely and Beth Berghausen and sophomore Betsy Keever. Last year, these three helped to break the school's 4x800-meter record.
In the distance events, freshman Raquel Salume and sophomore Amy Gravitt will be ready to run after impressive cross country seasons. Junior Robin Schretter should also be in top form despite missing the cross country season in the fall due to her study abroad in Israel.
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In the field events, sophomore Megan Mitchell has already set Duke records in the shot put. Heptathlete Christine Gregorski managed to place at the Atlantic Coast Conference meet and obtained a personal best each weekend last year.
Last year, seven Blue Devil track records were broken -- two during the indoor track season and five during the outdoor track season -- and that number should only increase this year.
This year, the Blue Devils return the same athletes who broke those records, and they have the potential to improve upon those records as well as set new ones.
Competition in the ACC has continually been known as the best in the nation, but Duke's coaches do not feel this puts their team at a disadvantage. Instead, this can only help the Blue Devils to get better.
"When you run against the best all the time, you perform better," Yakola said. "We wouldn't settle for less."