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3 Blue Devils look to defend titles at home

The Blue Devil track and field team will host the 19th annual Duke Invitational this weekend at Wallace Wade Stadium. The meet, which will run from Friday at noon through Saturday night, will feature athletes from across the country as well as three Blue Devils looking to defend their individual titles from last season's meet.

"This is the big one," head coach Norm Ogilvie said. "Lots of parents and alumni will be coming, and it will be kind of like a senior day for the athletes."

More than 2,000 athletes from 71 colleges, 42 club teams as well as unattached competitors will be participating in the meet. Several ACC teams will also be travelling to Durham to compete.

Family and friends of the Duke athletes will be in Durham this weekend to see the Blue Devils, and the athletes will also benefit from running in their home stadium.

"It's nice not having to travel," sophomore Chris Spooner said. "Usually we're gone every other weekend. It's more relaxing and it's helpful to race well."

Although ACC Co-Performer of the Week Clara Horowitz will be resting this weekend, several other Duke runners, throwers and jumpers will be looking to make their marks.

Sophomore Jade Ellis, coming off a first-place finish in the triple jump at the Charlotte Invitational April 1, is looking to defend his 2005 Duke Invitational title in the long jump. Last weekend's meet was Ellis' first event since returning from an injury he suffered in February.

"The meet lets me see where I am for the season," said Ellis. "I can gauge how the injury is and see what I can do with it."

Ellis, Duke's long jump record holder, is seeded second in the long and triple jump.

Diana Pucurs and Debra Vento are the other two Blue Devils who will attempt to defend the individual titles they won at last year's Duke Invitational.

Pucurs won last year's women's javelin, and the sophomore has posted the ACCs best mark this season with a throw of 148-4.

Vento, a junior, is going for her third high jump title in a row, which would make her only the third athlete to accomplish that feat in Duke Invite history.

Spooner, who is seeded seventh in the 1,500-meter run scheduled for Friday, is attempting to qualify for the NCAA Regionals.

"The coaches told me the 1,500 is stacked," Spooner said. "My main goal is to qualify for the regional, and I'm really hoping to get it done in this event."

Friday's finals will begin at 4 p.m. with the 400 hurdles to be followed at 5 p.m. with the distance events. The sprinting events will be run on Saturday, with the finals beginning in the afternoon. Field events will run both Friday and Saturday.

Duke's only other home meet of the season, the Duke Twilight, will be held May 7th.

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