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7 qualify for NCAAs in pair of meets

In a typical set of early-season meets, a host of Blue Devils qualified for the postseason, Debra Vento won the high jump and the distance runners placed well among top competition.

In the second weekend of the outdoor season, the majority of the Blue Devils competed in the Raleigh Relays, where most were not able to muster podium times. The distance runners headed to the Stanford Invitational seeking qualifying marks for NCAAs.

As the bright spot in Raleigh, Vento posted her strongest high jump of the year. The sophomore, who closed out her indoor season with All-America honors at the NCAA Championships earlier this month, started her outdoor season by tying her personal best of 1.83 meters.

“I didn’t go in thinking I would jump that well,” Vento said. “I just came back from a week and a half off, and I wanted to see how I would perform on the different surface.”

Both Vento and Cincinnati’s Renee Hein cleared each of their first four heights, but Hein clipped the bar on her fifth jump. With the victory already in hand, Vento’s attempt at 1.86 meters, which would have eclipsed her personal best, fell short.

Nick Schneider, who is primarily a miler, traveled with a select few from the distance team to Stanford to run in his first ever 5,000-meter race. The senior placed second with a time of 14:04.29, the third fastest in Duke history.

Schneider started the race in the top five and by the second mile had assumed the top spot. After dropping back to fourth, Schneider kicked over the last 100-meters to best all but one of 10 runners in a closely contested finish.

“A good percentage of the best distance runners in the country came to this meet because it has good conditions for distance running,” assistant coach Kevin Jermyn said. “It’s one of the best places to qualify in the 5,000 and 10,000. He wanted to get the qualifying mark and to explore a new event.”

Liz Wort and Tia Ferguson also qualified for the NCAA Regional in the 5,000-meter run, with times of 16:31.23 and 16:49.78, respectively. The two started the race conservatively and moved up to the lead pack by the second mile. Wort increased her pace throughout the race and in the last mile closed the gap on the leader, earning a fourth-place finish among college runners.

In a field of more than 50 of the nation’s top 10k runners, Laura Stanley’s time of 34:11.22 merited a 21st-place finish and an NCAA Provisional qualifying mark. Stanley missed the automatic qualifying time, however, by one second.

Phebe Ko and Elle Pishny also competed in the 10,000-meter run, earning times of 35:31.14 and 36:09.66, respectively.

Keith Krieger represented the men in the 10,000 at Stanford. His time of 29:53.85 bests his old top time by 20 seconds and is the fastest Duke finish in the event since 1978.

“The men’s race was very deep,” Jermyn said. “Having so many people running so fast made it easy for him to shake off 20 seconds. He was looking to take a big chunk out of his time.”

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