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Duke looks to replicate last year’s success at meet

When the Blue Devils participated in the New Balance Collegiate Invitational a year ago, they left with championship wins in three events, and a school record in the men’s 4x800-meters.

For the majority of the team, this weekend is a chance to replicate the previous year’s record-setting success against some of the top teams in the nation. This year, the Blue Devils return to the Armory Track & Field Center in New York with added confidence and energy, as some look to defend their titles. The team also has set its sights on a larger array of events than it has in the past, and is looking to make an impression in the field as well as jumps and hurdles, rather than just in distance.

“This is always a highlight of the indoor season,” Director of Track and Field Norm Ogilvie said. “We’re really excited about the balance, this is the most balance we’ve ever had…. We won’t just be making a splash in distance which is what we tended to do in the past.”

This year Duke will not attempt to break its school record in the men’s 4x800-meter race.

Instead, the Blue Devils are focusing on the individual events where they feel most comfortable. For senior Sean-Pat Oswald, that means being able to run in the 1000-meter race and getting the chance to break his own school record in the 800-meter race. Freshman Tanner Anderson has a similar goal in mind as well, as he hopes to break the school pole vault record he set earlier in the season. In the championship mile, seniors Ryan McDermott and Kate Van Buskirk look to take the win in their respective races, while athletes such as senior Amy Fryt and sophomore Michelle Anumba will bring strong performances in the field.

Freshmen Brian Atkinson and Clint McKelvey will compete on the opposite coast, running in San Diego. Tomorrow, they will race against other college freshmen as well as high school seniors in USATF U.S.A. Cross Country Championships.

The reward for a top spot in this race is a chance to have the honor of competing in a U.S. jersey at one of two upcoming competitions. A finish in the top six will guarantee that athlete a spot at the 2011 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Punta Umbria, Spain. Athletes who finish in the next four spots will have an opportunity to run for their country as well in the North America, Central American & Caribbean (NACAC) Cross Country Championships, which will take place later this month.

According to Ogilvie, the two men representing Duke at the event stand a good chance of qualifying for these races and will head in with confidence.

“I’m pretty excited, but not too nervous,” Atkinson said. “There’s not much to lose but a lot to gain.”

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