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Strong individual performances at ACCs

The Blue Devils made program history at the ACC Indoor Championships last weekend in Boston, taking home four individual golds in addition to setting several personal and school records.

At the end of the weekend, the men found themselves in seventh overall with 47 points, their highest point total since the meet began including 12 teams, while the women finished in sixth with 48.

The meet got off to a good start for the Blue Devils, as freshman Karli Johonnot earned 3,964 points in the pentathlon to take the individual title and set a school record. Curtis Beach mirrored her success in the men’s heptathlon, earning 5,862 points and qualifying for the NCAA Indoor meet. The win gave Duke its first conference title in the event since 1978.

“I’m very proud and I’m very happy that I could help improve Duke track and field,” Beach said. “The team’s improving a ton, so while I was the first ACC title since ’78, I think we’ll be seeing a lot more in the future just because the team’s been getting better every year.”

In addition to Beach’s heptathlon gold, the second day of the meet also brought a win in the 5000m from junior Carly Seymour, who recorded a personal-best time of 16:21.42. The win was only Seymour’s second race back from the injury that kept her out of the 2011 cross country season, and she has yet to begin full workouts.

“My goals were really just to go in and run as hard as I could and to the best of my ability,” Seymour said. “So to get a title off of just base ability, I’m really happy with that.”

Despite the fact that Seymour had not been able to race for almost eight months, the junior stayed close to the lead for the majority of the race, holding third place for a little over a mile and a half. And when the pace slowed with three and a half laps to go, Seymour pushed forward to take the lead, and shortly afterwards, the title.

The last gold for Duke came from sophomore Michelle Anumba the following day, as she threw 54’1.25” to set a school record in the shotput. During the second day of the meet, the sophomore had set a personal record of 18.22m, a full three feet farther than ever before, to take fifth place despite being seeded tenth. As a result of both of her strong performances, Anumba earned 14 points for the women’s team and received the ACC field event performer of the year award, another first for a Duke athlete.

Several other athletes also took top three spots in their events, earning All-ACC honors as a result.

On the men’s side, the distance medley relay team of Nate McClafferty, Domenick DeMatteo, Ben Raskin and Brendon Pierson ran a season-best time of 9:46.27 to take third overall. DeMatteo came back to run a time of 8:02.87 in the 3000m, where he, along with first and second place finishers Ryan Hill and David Forrester, broke the previous meet record of 8:03.50.

The women’s 4x400m relay team of freshmen Elizabeth Kerpon, Lauren Hansson, Alexis Roper and senior Brittany Whitehead rounded off the meet for the Blue Devils with a time of 3:43.47 and made history by being the first Duke women’s team to finish in the top three. Their performance proved to be just what Duke needed to pull ahead of N.C. State and move from seventh to sixth overall in the conference.

“We had numerous school records and a bunch of All-ACC performances” director of track and field Norm Ogilvie said. “If any one of those [strong performances] had happened in a weekend, I would’ve called that a good weekend—and we just had a whole bunch of them.”

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