Blue Devil women claim Carolina Cup title in season opener for Duke track and field

The Blue Devil women captured the Carolina Cup title for the second time in as many years Friday.
The Blue Devil women captured the Carolina Cup title for the second time in as many years Friday.

Following the best indoor season in school history, the Blue Devils were able to resume their success without missing a beat.

The Duke women took home first place in the Dick Taylor Carolina Cup Friday in Chapel Hill, beating out North Carolina, East Carolina and Gardner Webb with a score of 71 points. On the men's side, the Blue Devils racked up 47 points, good for a second-place finish behind the Tar Heels.

“They’re kids who work hard. And hard work pays off. They’re dedicated athletes and they’re talented athletes too and it doesn’t hurt that it’s especially easy for Duke to get fired up against UNC,” director of track and field Norm Ogilvie said. “When you bring the different members of the team together at once it creates a synergy that does not exist when they’re separate. It the cliché that ‘the sum is bigger than the whole part.’”

The women came out strong in the track events, taking first place in five out of eight events. Sprinters Elizabeth Kerpon, Lauren Hansson, Madeline Kopp and Madeline Price were the first four runners to cross the line in the 200 meters, with Kerpon winning the race in 24.83 seconds, 24.89, 25.34, and 25.46 respectively, sweeping the 200m. Kopp and Price helped Duke further its lead with first and second place finishes in the 400m.

Price—a touted freshman—was more than ready for her indoor track debut, finishing the 200 meters in 25.46 seconds before finishing less than four-tenths of a second behind Kopp in the 400 meters with a time of 56.42 seconds.

The Blue Devils also dominated the middle distance events. Sophomore Haley Meier led a Duke sweep of the podium in the 800 meters, finishing in 2:13.33, with teammates Jessica Buttinger and Gina Daniel not far behind. In the mile run, the Blue Devils took first and second, with Amina Banks crossing the line in 4:55.28 and Jessie Rubin in 5:03.70.

Duke's 4x400 meter relay team—comprised of Alexis Roper, Meier, Kopp and Price—cruised to victory, stopping the clock at 3:53.90, more than two seconds faster than second-place East Carolina.

The men finished the night with two first-place finishes—both in the middle distance events—and three second-place finishes.

Freshman Jordan Burton won the 800 meters with a time of 1:53.96 and senior Nate McClafferty took first place in the mile in 4:06.63. Duke brought back second place honors with sophomore Chaz Hawkins in the 200 meter dash, senior Brian Schoepfer in the 3000 meter run and the Blue Devil 4x400 meter relay team, which turned in a time of 3:27.22.

“Nate McClafferty probably had the top performance of the evening. He ran 4:06 in the mile and with the conversion to a bank track—4:03… that’s the third in the nation right now.” Ogilvie said.

The Blue Devils received first place in five of the field events, with both men and women taking first in the pole vault and the shot put. In addition, the women also got first place in the high jump. Junior Megan Clark—who was recently invited to participate in the Millrose Games—cleared 4 6/100 meters in the pole vault for the win. Redshirt sophomore Urina Harrel threw for 14.37 meters in the shot put and redshirt junior Karli Johonnot jumped 1.8 meters in the high jump.

Rounding out the victories in the field events, sophomore Connor Hall edged out East Carolina’s Henry Johnson by clearing five meters in the pole vault and redshirt junior Stephen Boals threw for 17.3 meters, surpassing North Carolina's A.J. Hicks by almost a meter.

“It goes without saying we’re always going to be really strong in those [shot put and pole vault] events. Those are two of our best events always. It’s a real strong tradition—the pole vault and the shot put,” Olgilvie said.

Having grown comfortable on the Tar Heels' track, Duke will send half of its team back to Chapel Hill next weekend for the Tobacco Road Cup Jan. 22-23. The other half of the squad will travel to Blacksburg, Va., to compete in the Virginia Tech Invite Jan. 23-24.


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