Beach captures national championship in heptathlon

Redshirt senior Curtis Beach earned the second national championship of his career by capturing the hepathlon at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Redshirt senior Curtis Beach earned the second national championship of his career by capturing the hepathlon at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.

The Blue Devils ended the indoor season on a high note, adding another NCAA Champion to the program’s resume Saturday with the redshirt senior’s performance.

Tallying up 6,190 points through seven events—a conference, school and personal record—Beach fought to the last event in two days of competition to claim his second national indoor title in the heptathlon, with his first victory coming in 2012.

“It’s kind of crazy it came full circle,” Beach said. “I think no matter if I placed first, second or third, it was still pretty memorable…. I’m just soaking up the experience. All I wanted to do was come out and perform my best, and as long as I did that, I’d be happy and satisfied.”

Opening with a season-best time in the 60-meter dash of 7.06 seconds and a fifth-place finish, Beach then won the heptathlon’s long jump with a personal-best jump of 25 feet, 2 inches on his third and final attempt. He struggled in the shot-put, earning only 613 points following a 15th-place throw of 39 feet, 8 3/4 inches.

Beach was able to rally and end the first day of competition in third by matching his personal-best performance in the high jump. On his final attempt, the redshirt senior cleared 6 feet, 9 inches and took fifth in the event.

Wrapping up Friday’s competition, Beach recorded a personal-best score 3,310 points through the first day of competition. Despite these impressive efforts, he found himself in third entering Saturday’s slate of events. He trailed Michael Uibo of Georgia and Kevin Lazas of Arkansas, who held 3,358 and 3,315 points, respectively. With three events left, there was plenty of room for the leaderboard to change.

“[Curtis] is a veteran,” Duke associate head coach Shawn Wilbourn said. “He’s been through this before. I think the biggest thing was knowing that he didn’t have to have these miraculous performances in every event. He just had to be steady.”

Beach got off to a strong start Saturday by winning his heat in the 60-meter hurdles. With a time of 8.12 seconds, he took third in the event and moved into second place, just 16 points behind Uibo.

But the pole vault shuffled the leaderboard again. With three posting marks above 17 feet, Beach’s mark of 16 feet, 6 3/4 inches left him tied for sixth in the event and fourth place overall despite vaulting a personal best.

Entering the final event, Beach drew upon the energy of his hometown crowd to shine in the 1,000-meter run. As nearly 50 of his friends and family cheered in the stands, the Blue Devil fed off the their support, took an early lead and left his competitors far behind him.

Turning in a time of 2:28.76, Beach crossed the line almost 15 seconds ahead of Uibo and earned 1,002 points to take the lead from the Bulldog.

Beach finished with 6,190 points, Uibo with 6,044 points and Lazas with 5973 points.

“Everybody was here,” Beach said. “The same people that were coaching me and supporting me when I was eight are the same ones that are here supporting me… The fact that my best ended up being an NCAA championship just makes it that much greater.”

Duke also received solid performances from a number of other Blue Devils throughout the course of the championships.

Graduate student Juliet Bottorff improved on last year’s seventh-place finish by earning fifth place with a final time 16:26.53.

Senior Tanner Anderson earned eighth place in the high jump. After clearing 7 feet 0.25 inches, Anderson garnered his first Indoor First-Team All-America honors.

In her first NCAA Championships, pole-vaulter Megan Clark earned second-team All-America honors Friday with her 13 feet, 9 1/4 inches clearance—just off her season best jumps.


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