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Duke track and field competes at two invitationals

After starting their season in December at the JDL meet in Winston-Salem, N.C., the Blue Devils have had more than a month to identify target areas for improvement and practice for their next competition. This weekend, the team will head to the Hokie Invitational in Blacksburg, Va. and the Dick Taylor Invitational in Chapel Hill to see if its practicing has paid off.

“It’s the first full weekend of the year for our team, so what we want to do is provide everyone with a competitive opportunity,” director of track and field Norm Ogilvie said.

The distance athletes who race in the 400m events and up will head to the Hokie Invite to race in the Rector Field House, which features a banked track and will host the conference meet later on in the season. This low-pressure meet provides a chance for those who competed at the JDL meet to see how much they have improved, as well as allowing those who have not raced since the cross country season a chance to see where they will be starting this season.

“It’s been a really long time since I raced, so I’m really excited to have the opportunity again,” senior Esther Vermeer said. “Watching the team be so successful during cross country has really given us a lot of positive momentum going into this meet…. I just want to race competitively and try my best and not worry about time or anything.”

Vermeer will be joining teammates like Juliet Bottorf and Madeline Morgan in Blacksburg where she will participate in the open mile and run the 1200m portion of the Distance Medley Relay.

In addition to allowing the athletes to evaluate their standing and the results of their efforts, the Hokie Invite also allows them to compete for the chance to head to New York in two weeks for the Armory Collegiate Meet.

While the distance athletes take to the track in Blacksburg, the multi-event and field athletes will stay in North Carolina to compete at the Dick Taylor Invitational.

“It’s an early-season meet and in the multi[-events] we are competing our younger athletes. It’s a good opportunity for them to understand the order of events and how to manage a multi,” associate head coach Shawn Wilbourn said.

Some of those younger competitors include freshman Robert Rohner and sophomore Ian Rock, who, according to Wilbourn, have shown promise in practice sessions and are looking to do great things this season. Their teammate freshman Megan Clark has also managed to catch the attention of her coaches with her pole vaulting and is set to compete in Chapel Hill, N.C. this weekend as well.

Other, more experienced athletes that have stood out in practice include pole vaulter Justin Amezquita, a junior, as well as sophomore Teddi Maslowski. Despite showing that she had the potential to start yet another great season at this meet however, Maslowski recently suffered a serious concussion that will prevent her from competing—potentially for the rest of the season.

Despite the unfortunate injury and the nerves that come with what will be many athletes’ first competition of the season, the runners and field athletes are looking forward to the chance to get back into their sport.

“We all want to out there and tear up the track,” Vermeer said. “[We want] to race as hard as we can.”

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