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Duke leaps, distance shines at UNC Invite

It was like practice--with a few record setting performances along the way--for the Duke track team this weekend at the North Carolina Invitational.


Senior pole vaulter Brent Warner reset his school record at 17 feet, a three-inch increase over his previous mark.


"It's sort of low key for us. We are winding up the first part of our season," freshman Dan King said. "This was sort of a trial, because in two weeks we are going to New York City for a big meet." King finished first for the Blue Devils, 6th overall, in the 400 meter run with a 49.93.


The men's squad also had success in the distance events, placing first in the distance medley with the team of Ian Cronin, Mark Middaugh, Brian McNiff and Dan Daly.


Head coach Norm Ogilvie ran four different distance medley teams this weekend to determine who will run each leg of the final distance medley squad.


"Our main goal was to stack our distance medley for New York," head coach Ogilvie said. "The men's distance team has chance to go to nationals in that event."


For many rookies, this meet served as their first collegiate competition. Three freshmen on the men's team--Jon Fox, Sean McDermott and Pat Parish--took the three through five spots in the 5000-meter run.

"We worked together really well and it was a really good effort by all of us," Fox said. "Pat Parish paced it through two miles. For a lot of the guys, it was good experience to run a college race and run the 5000 indoors. It's a young squad, but we have a lot of talent."


The women's team mirrored the men's success this weekend in Chapel Hill.


In her first indoor meet since 2002, junior Paige Miller finished first in the 3000-meter run. Her NCAA provisional mark of 9:28.51 moved her into third place in the Duke record books. All four women who ran the 3000--Miller, Laura Stanley, Lindsay Van Alstine and Phebe Ko--qualified for ECAC.


The team continued its strong showing in distance races with Duke runners taking the second through fifth spots in the one-mile run. Junior Alyssa Mathe led the pack with a 4:55. Sophomores Clara Horowitz, Sally Meyerhoff and senior Jan Faraguna rounded out the top five.


"[The women have] so much depth in the distance," Ogilvie said. "Rachel [Umberger] looked great. She is really coming into form."

Umberger and fellow freshman Deb Vento recorded both first-place finishes in the 800-meter run and high jump, respectively. Umberger recorded a personal-best time of 2:11.40 to clinch the top spot in the 800. Vento tied her own school record with a 5-10 jump.


"Deb really has the ability to clear six feet this season," Ogilvie said.


Vento's success in the high jump set the bar for the other Blue Devils in the field events. Freshmen Beth Maher and Kelly Reynolds finished fifth in the shot put and sixth in the weight throw, respectively.


Senior Kristie Howard posted a season-best 11-7.75 in the pole vault, tying for fourth.


Ogilvie noted that although the competition at this weekend's meet wasn't strong, it was an important meet for the team to begin preparing for bigger meets.


"The coaching staff has done a great job getting our athletes ready," Ogilvie said. "Now we're going to gear up for the rest of the season."


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