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Blue Devils bounce back from NYC mishap

Michelle Anumba broke her own school record in the shot put while taking third place at the Armory Collegiate Invitational in New York
Michelle Anumba broke her own school record in the shot put while taking third place at the Armory Collegiate Invitational in New York

This weekend the Blue Devils traveled to New York City to compete at the Armory Collegiate Invitational, where they broke both school and personal records to keep their streak of success alive.

Both the men and the women had strong showings at the meet, placing within the top 10 in a variety of different events. Although the meet ended up representing a significant success for Duke overall, it began inauspiciously for the Blue Devil men.

The 1000m race started promisingly for Duke, as senior Stephen Clark stepped up to take the lead just ahead of his teammate, junior Domenick DeMatteo. Clark managed to hold onto the lead for the first 700 meters of the race, but as he and DeMatteo approached the end, a sudden accident took DeMatteo out of the running and left Clark unable to secure the win.

“It happened fast,” DeMatteo said. “I was moving up and a bunch of guys started moving up at the same time and I think someone hit my back leg and I started stumbling. I don’t really remember much of what happened—I was just running and then got wobbly and then all of a sudden I was on the ground.”

As a result of the pile-up, DeMatteo was unable to finish what would have been his first 1000m race for Duke, and Clark lost his hold on the lead and slipped to ninth. Both Duke runners were able to escape serious injury, however, unlike some of the other athletes involved in the collision. Clark even went on to take 10th in the mile the next day.

That instance of bad luck proved to be the exception and not the rule for the Blue Devils, though. Several of the other Duke men stepped up against an increased level of competition and proved their readiness for the tougher races approaching in the second half of the season. Sophomore Brian Atkinson and senior Andrew Brodeur, both of whom already showed themselves to be strong competitors during the cross-country season, took third and fourth, respectively, in the 5000m. Atkinson’s stellar performance of 14:13.95, which represented a marked improvement from his previous times, gave the Blue Devils a boost of confidence and earned him the third-place slot on Duke’s all-time list. Atkinson’s teammate, Morgan Pearson, a freshman who has consistently been turning in quality times for the Blue Devils, managed to do so again as he raced to a fourth-place finish in the 3000m race. In the college 3000m, junior Dominick Robinson ran 8:20.10 to cross the finish line in third ahead of teammate Shaun Thompson, who took 11th.

The women brought home several quality finishes on the track as well. Freshman Abby Farley took sixth in the college 800m, while Carolyn Baskir ran a time of 4:52.82 to take 15th in the college mile. Their classmate, Elizabeth Kerpon, also benefited from the increased competition, breaking her own school record in the 400m.

The next day Kerpon was back, racing in the 4x400m relay beside teammates Brittany Whitehead, Alexis Roper and Lauren Hansson to earn the second-fastest time in school history.

In the field, Michelle Anumba mirrored Kerpon’s success, taking third overall while shattering her own school record in the shot put. On the men’s side of the field, the Blue Devils placed two pole vaulters in the top 10, with Justin Amezquita and Ian Rock taking sixth and 10, respectively. Their teammate, Tanner Anderson, competing for the first time this season, jumped 6-feet-9.75 to land in seventh place.

Despite the mishap during the first day, the Blue Devils were able to show that they have made the necessary progress to this point of their season. Despite their successes in New York, they are staying focused on the challenges ahead.

“We went and competed has hard as we could,” DeMatteo said, “But today it’s back to work, because the big meets start in three weeks.”

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