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Duke track and field return to Virginia Tech to conclude regular season

For the third time in six weeks, Duke will be competing at Virginia Tech.
For the third time in six weeks, Duke will be competing at Virginia Tech.

Duke will travel to Blacksburg, Va. for the third time in a month and forego the Alex Wilson Invitational at Notre Dame to wrap up regular season competition.

The team chose to conserve resources and energy by only traveling to one meet this weekend but will not be sacrificing the opportunity to qualify for the conference championships because Virginia Tech boasts one of the best indoor facilities in the area.

“It’s a smart decision,” director of track and field Norm Ogilvie said. “We have done a lot of traveling this indoor season, and ACCs start pretty early next week. We are in pretty good position in terms of who has qualified for what event, so pushing it one bridge too far would not be in our best interest.”

The Blue Devils have visited the Hokies on half of the weekends of the indoor season, but this year’s schedule has cut down on trips to Blacksburg by two from last year’s. Despite the familiarity, Duke athletes have hardly had the time to explore the surrounding town with competition lasting all day Friday and Saturday.

The team rarely ventures outside of the indoor facilities once the competition gets underway.

“We usually get a meal catered to the track Friday night.," Ogilvie said "We eat breakfast at the hotel. We grab a meal on the way back, but we are trying to get back to Durham, so these are usually pretty quick trips.”

Duke won’t be focused on the food or other attractions of Blacksburg this weekend because the meet provides a last chance for many athletes to earn a spot on the team’s ACC roster. Few athletes will be resting this weekend, giving the Blue Devils a rare opportunity to compete as a full team before the championships.

“For some athletes, it will be a chance to prove whether they deserve to go to ACCs or not,” Ogilvie said. “This is a chance for people kind of on the bubble to prove their cases. We are trying to chose our best lineup for the ACCs.”

The women enter this meet with their highest ranking during the regular season in recent memory. The most recent United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll placed the Blue Devils at No. 19, largely because a number of Duke athletes are ranked in the top 10 in their respective events.

Graduate student Juliet Bottorff earned the seventh-fastest time in the nation this year in her 5,000 meters with a time of 15:49.80 at the Iowa State Classic Feb. 14, her first and only time running the event this season.

Sophomore Meghan Clark has continued to improve upon her own school record in the pole vault after eclipsing former Olympian Jillian Schwartz’s mark in early February. Her highest vault this season of 4.36 meters places her tied for third in the nation.

Making the top-10 list in both the high jump and the pentathlon, Karli Johonnot has broken two school records already this season. Her best mark of 1.82 meters in the high jump places the redshirt sophomore at 11th in the nation, and her top score of 4,038 points in the pentathlon places her at 14th.

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