Freshman Jade Ellis broke the school record in the triple jump at his first collegiate meet. Just two weeks later at Saturday’s Armory Invitational, Ellis shattered his own record by more than a meter and a half to surpass the provisional qualifying mark for the NCAA Indoor Championships. With his fourth-place finish, Ellis became the first male Duke athlete to clear a provisional distance for indoor nationals in a field event.
“This meet featured the highest caliber of national competition,” head coach Norm Ogilvie said. “He’s now on the national triple-jump scene.”
Ellis has worked to improved his entry speed and now approaches the jumps faster than he did in high school, he said. He has also hit the weight room to increase his leg strength.
“I never worked this hard in high school,” Ellis said. “I’ve been working on my phases, making sure that each jump is the same and I get a lot of pop out of my jumps—just the little things.”
The men’s and women’s track and field teams sent a group of 50 athletes, including Ellis, to compete in the Armory Invitational and the Millrose Games against some of the nation’s top competition.
Women’s high-jump standout Debra Vento extended her win streak to three and remains undefeated this season. The sophomore, whose jump last week was good enough for an NCAA Provisional mark, leaped to a height of 5-11.25, which was a quarter-inch shorter than last week’s mark.
Shannon Rowbury, who was the star of the Jan. 30 meet in Boston, competed in her first 800-meter dash of the season. Although Rowbury’s primary goal was to get used to running a shorter distance and a more physical race, the junior ran a tactical four laps to place second with a time of 2:09.73.
In the race, LSU used one of its runners as a pacesetter for its top 800-meter runner, Neisha Bernard-Thomas, who was the runner-up at the NCAA National Indoor Championships last year. Rowbury took the first lap slow and spent the middle two laps weaving and nudging her way past 12 runners into second place. On the final lap, Rowbury’s fastest, the junior held off Brown’s Naja Ferjan by only 0.26 seconds but trailed Thomas by nearly five seconds.
“Rowbury is clearly one of the best middle distance runners in the country,” Ogilvie said.
Rowbury also was the leadoff runner in the women’s distance medley relay, which included Allison Stankavage, Meghan Leon and Sally Meyerhoff. The group recorded a time of 11:14.30, which snapped the previous Duke record by almost five seconds but was only good enough for fifth place. The first-place team, Villanova, ran almost 10 seconds faster in a race that featured the “strongest field ever to race this year,” assistant coach Kevin Jermyn said.
Junior Clara Horowitz ran to a third place finish in the 5,000-meter race, easily earning a provisional qualifying time but placing well behind the top two runners. Jermyn said Horowitz started the race “extremely fast” and ran by herself for most of the remaining 15 minutes.
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