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Individuals enter national ranks at Dick Taylor

Nate McClafferty’s leg in the distance medley relay helped Duke to a comeback win.
Nate McClafferty’s leg in the distance medley relay helped Duke to a comeback win.

The Blue Devils began their season this weekend at the Dick Taylor Invitational, which provided an opportunity for new athletes as well as a few returning upperclassmen to see where they stood.

Eighteen out of the 36 Duke athletes competing were freshmen, but they proved that they were ready for their collegiate careers with their performances in Chapel Hill, N.C. Freshman Morgan Pearson, who was a top-five member of Duke’s cross country team in the fall, was the highest-placing Blue Devil freshman at the meet. Pearson took first place in the 3000m race with a time of 8:38.53, finishing ahead of classmate Alec Klassen, who came in ninth overall. As of the meet’s finish, Pearson’s performance ranked 44th among NCAA Division I athletes.

“It was a very good start,” director of track and field Norm Ogilvie said. “A real good showcase for the freshmen…highlighted with the win by Morgan Pearson in the 3000m—convincing, solid, well-paced, fast win—and then at the end of the night winning the distance medley.”

The Blue Devils ran three freshmen—Henry Farley, Kyle Moran and Nate McClafferty—and junior Dominick Robinson in the distance medley relay. The team got off to a good start, but was unable to keep up with the competition for the first two legs. McClafferty’s third leg, however, and Robinson’s fast anchor performance were able to secure a come-from-behind win for Duke with a time of 10:11.04. Their win placed 11th in the NCAA Division I rankings.

“Our first two legs actually ran pretty good,” McClafferty said. “It was just that they faced some tough competition right off the gun. I was just running to try to make up ground and I felt really good so I wanted to put our team in a position to win. I was glad I was able to do that.”

Although Duke athletes only won the distance medley relay and the men’s 3000m race, several Blue Devils were able to make it to the finals of their events both on the track and in the field.

On the men’s side junior Matt Marriott finished in seventh-place in the 600m, leading five of his teammates, including sophomore Ben Raskin who took 13th. In the 800m, freshmen Kyle Moran and Henry Farley also posted top-fifteen finishes, taking sixth and 11th, respectively. Their classmate Shaun Thompson had a strong opening to his collegiate track career as well, with a fourth-place finish in the mile. Robinson repeated his success in the distance medley with a sixth-place performance in the mile as he finished one spot ahead of teammate Brian Schoepfer.

The men had a good showing in the field as well, with freshman Ian Rock posting a second-place finish in the pole vault, just two spots ahead of sophomore Justin Amezquita and five spots in front of junior Curtis Beach. Beach also earned a 14th-place finish in the high jump.

The women also brought home some top finishes, with freshman Lauren Hansson leading her teammates in the 600m as she crossed the line in second. Seniors Brittany Whitehead, Nicole Ragucci, junior Alexis Roper and freshman Sophia Treakle also took top-10 spots in the event. Freshman Teddi Maslowski and sophomore Hannah Goranson matched their teammates by placing in the top 10 in their event, the 60m hurdles, taking sixth and eighth, respectively.

The highlight of the meet for the women, however, took place in the field, where Karli Johonnot made school history taking second in the high jump. Her jump of 5-foot-8.75 tied the No. 2 all-time Duke performance in the women’s high jump and holds 22nd among NCAA Division I rankings. Johonnot went on to compete with teammates Maslowski and Miray Seward in the long jump as well, where she took 10th, three spots behind Maslowski and three ahead of Seward.

Although several of Duke’s athletes did not participate in the Invitational, after seeing their teammates perform they are eager for their chance to compete as well. Those that did compete, however, are looking forward to improving their results.

“It’s only the first meet,” Beach said. “After this I think a lot of the jitters will go down and we can really focus on having big performances.”

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