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Duke tunes up for ACC Indoors

The men’s and women’s track teams traveled to Virginia Tech this weekend for indoor action at the Hokie Invitational.

Because each team can only bring 28 athletes to the ACC Indoor Championships Friday, head coach Norm Ogilvie wanted to try some of his runners in different races in order to field the best team next weekend.

Ogilvie also decided to rest some of his top performers from the indoor season, including triple jumper Jade Ellis and some of the women’s distance runners.

“Everybody is in a slightly different place—it was a different group,” Ogilvie said of the Blue Devils who competed this weekend.

Previously undefeated, Debra Vento tied Hyleas Fountain and North Carolina’s Sheena Gordon with a jump of 1.78 meters Friday, but Vento placed third because she took more tries to reach the height. All three competitors attempted but failed to hit the NCAA Indoor Nationals automatic qualifying mark of 1.84. Vento appeared to clear the mark, Ogilvie said, but the bar unexpectedly fell.

Meghan Leon placed second in the 800-meter run, setting a personal indoor record with a time of 2:11.79. Leon started the race conservatively, but picked up her pace after the first 400 meters. Leon kicked hard in the last 100 meters but did not have enough to beat Eastern Carolina’s Tara DeBrielle, who was a half-second faster than Leon.

Fifth-year runner Lauren Matic also took third place in the 800-meter run. Matic’s strong performances in this week’s race and as anchor in the Feb. 6 4x800-meter win were not expected by the coaching staff at the start of the season. The graduate student had surgery on both of her feet last summer and was not expected to be able to compete this early in the year.

“Matic returning is big news for the women’s team,” Ogilvie said. “She’s only been running for a few weeks and has the potential to get much better.”

Junior Allison Nesbitt posted her personal best in the 55-meter hurdles with a time of 8.11 seconds in the semifinals. Nesbitt’s time was only a hundredth of a second off of the Duke record.

“She certainly has some ability to score some points at the ACC meet this weekend if all goes well,” Ogilvie said.

Nick Schneider defeated all of the ACC competition in the 3000-meter run, finishing second to Georgia’s Ian Burrell with a time of 18:17:71. Schneider, who had the flu three weeks ago and has only competed in one other meet this season, wanted to get more race experience prior to the ACC Championships.

Freshman Jon Brockhart posted a strong time of 1:05.75 in the 500-meter dash to earn fourth place. Brockhart was only 0.07 seconds slower than the third-place finisher, who ran in a faster heat. Joining fellow freshman Peter Lewellen, Brockhart qualified for the IC4A eastern championships in the 500-meter dash.

Rounding out the top men’s performances was the 4x800-meter relay team, which again posted a strong finish this weekend—this time with a different lineup. Ian Cronin, Tommy Colven, Chris Spooner and Cameron Bell ran to a third place finish in 7:44.02, five seconds faster than last week’s time.

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