The Blue Devils secured 12 first-place finishes Friday and Saturday at the Duke Invitational—the highest total in program history—highlighted by sweeps of the men’s and women’s 800 meter, shot put and pole vault.
In a field that included more than 1,000 athletes competing in a full array of track and field events, the Blue Devils took advantage of two beautiful sunny days to set multiple personal bests and excite their home crowd in one of the two track and field meets held at Wallace Wade Stadium all year.
For Duke, freshman Michael Foley got things started off in the invitational’s first event by breaking the school record in the men’s hammer with a throw of 189 feet, four inches. After improving his distance on each attempt, Foley’s fifth throw set the record and secured a first place for the Paradise Valley, Ariz. native.
Senior Andrea Hopkins earned her first win of the season in the women’s javelin with a throw of 147 feet, six inches, and the Blue Devils had two first place finishes barely an hour into the two-day event.
Redshirt junior Michelle Anumba finished out the field events for the day by earning second place in the women’s hammer throw with a mark of 178 feet, eight inches.
On the track, sophomore Elizabeth Kerpon started the day off by running a season best 1:01.77 to finish third in the 400 meter hurdles. Shortly thereafter, junior Gabby Levac outkicked fellow Blue Devil Cydney Ross to finish first in the 1,500 meter with a personal best time of 4:24.52. Ross also finished with a personal best, crossing the line in 4:25.38 to earn second place.
In one of Friday night’s final races, fifth-year senior James Kostelnik earned Duke its fourth first-place finish of the day, winning the men’s 5,000 meter. Kostelnik’s personal best time of 13:59.02 ranks fifth all-time for any Blue Devil in the event. The top finishes kept on coming for Duke Saturday.
Sophomore Stephen Boals started off the winning by taking home first place in the men’s shot put with a mark of 54 feet, 11 inches. Boals also recorded a personal record throw of 170 feet, 10 inches to take third in men’s discuss. After taking home second-place Friday in the women’s hammer throw, Anumba came back Saturday to take first place in the shot put with a throw of 54 feet, 11-and-a-half inches.
Freshman Megan Clark and sophomore Ian Rock closed out the field events for the weekend by sweeping the pole vault. Clark and Rock earned the top spot by clearing jumps of 13 feet, one-and-a-half inches and 15 feet, seven inches, respectively. The Blue Devils also swept the second-place spots in the pole vault, with Emily Mattoon clearing a jump of 12 feet, seven-and-a-half inches and Justin Amezquita clearing 15 feet, one inch.
After coming in second place in the women’s 1,500 Friday, Ross came back Saturday to capture first place in the 800 meter with a time of 2:05.54. Freshman Michael Filipczak came in first place in the men’s 800 with a time of 1:49.74, breaking the 1:50 mark for the first time in his young career.
Perhaps the most exciting single events of the day were the men’s and women’s 3,000 meter steeplechase, where four personal bests were set by Duke runners. Sophomore Shaun Thompson won the men’s division with a personal best time of 8:58.04. Junior Dominick Robinson also set a new personal best, finishing second with a time of 9:01.00. In the women’s division, senior Esther Vermeer set a new personal record of 10:30.37 to earn second place.
The Blue Devils finished off the day’s track events by taking home first place in the men’s 4-x-800 meter relay. The team consisted of Filipczak and sophomores Kyle Moran, Henry Farley and Nate McClafferty.
Both on the track and in the field, Duke saw success in a multitude of events against a large field of competition from across the region. The preparation from this weekend’s invitational will prove crucial to achieving successes, both personal and as a team, in less than two weeks at the ACC Championships.
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