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Jones qualifies for ECACs, Rowland captures crown

Duke's track and field team showcased the talent of its younger athletes at the North Carolina Opener Saturday. Many of the team's freshmen and sophomores competed in the first event of the season, which included UNC and Davidson in the field.

The meet was highlighted by freshman Chris Rowland's first-place finish in the 800-meter run. In his first race as a Duke runner, Rowland staved off a push from St. Augustine College senior Bershawn Jackson, last year's 400-meter hurdles world outdoor champion.

"[Rowland] ran in the second heat, which is typically for slower runners, but he looked like a veteran rather than the rookie he is," head coach Norm Ogilvie said. "Jackson began to creep up on him at the end, but when it came time to answer the bell, [Rowland] took the lead for the win. He is going to be one of our better runners."

With a time of 1:59.99, Ade Wise also earned a top-ten finish in the 800-meter run, placing eighth.

Ogilvie credited assistant coach Jon Amt for some of Rowland's success in the race. Amt is a former 800-meter runner who graduated from Duke in 2004.

Ogilvie said that Amt serves an example of a successful Duke runner whose experience in the program will be valuable to a very talented group of 800-meter runners.

The Blue Devils also had a strong showing in the one-mile run. Steve Brown took second place and sophomore Patrick Parish took seventh in the event.

On the women's side, sophomore Lara Jones created the most buzz by finishing second in the pole vault. Her 11-11.75 vault qualified her for the prestigious ECAC Championships.

Ogilvie said the goal of many of his athletes is to qualify for this event and that he was notably impressed that Jones was able to accomplish this feat in the team's first event of the year.

Even though none of the other athletes met the standard Saturday to qualify for the ECACs, Ogilvie expects that junior Kelly Reynolds, who holds the Duke all-time record for weight throw, will also qualify for the Indoor Championships in the near future. She finished second at Saturday's event with a throw of 50 feet, 9.5 inches, nearly three feet short of her record.

Freshman shot-putter Jessica Tanner made a name for herself by entering the Duke record books with the third-best throw in Duke history. She finished third in the first event of her collegiate career Saturday.

Ogilvie said the purpose of this meet was to give the younger athletes some experience and he felt that many of the less experienced competitors had an impressive showing.

Duke will next travel to the Maryland Invitational January 21.


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