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Blue Devils look to build on strong season opener

The Blue Devils got off to an incredibly successful start last weekend, winning multiple events and setting both school and collegiate records in the process. And this weekend, Duke track and field fans’ attention will be split across two very different venues.

Sophomore Curtis Beach will face off against some of the world’s best in the Millrose Multi Challenge Friday night at Madison Square Garden. Olympic gold medalist Bryan Clay and current indoor heptathlon world record-holder Ashton Eaton are some of the elite athletes competing at the Millrose Games, which will be televised live on ESPN2 from 8 to 10 p.m. Despite the importance and pressure of his upcoming competition, Beach said he will maintain his calm focus with the help of associate head coach Shawn Wilbourn, who will be accompanying him to New York. Beach also mentioned his hope to return from New York in time to watch his teammates compete at the Kent Taylor-UNC Run for the Kids Invitational Saturday in Chapel Hill.

The highlight of the meet will be the field events, as senior Amy Fryt, junior Michael Barbas, sophomore Michelle Anumba and many others attempt to keep up the stellar performance they displayed last weekend at the Hokie Invitational in Blacksburg, Va.

“We’re very happy with how we opened up the season,” director of track and field Norm Ogilvie said. “It was the best season opener we’ve ever had. We got it done on both the men’s and the women’s sides. It gives us a lot of confidence.”

As a result of its showing at the Hokie Invitational, the men’s team catapulted to a No. 6 ranking in the Southeast region, its highest yet according to Ogilvie. Although the Blue Devils have made strides in both team ranking and confidence, Duke won’t have its full roster of runners present in Chapel Hill.

Most distance runners will spend the weekend training for the Armory Collegiate meet in New York Feb. 4-5, leaving only a handful to compete. On the men’s side, about two-thirds of the runners will not be participating.

The nine men remaining in the distance events will be evenly split into the 800 meter, the mile and the 3 kilometer races.

“This meet will be a season opener for a couple of people,” Ogilvie said. “For others it’s another chance to fine tune before New York, and for the rest it’s still another chance to prove themselves.”

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