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Duke track to take on top-ACC talent in Virginia Tech Elite Meet

Sophomore Madeline Kopp (pictured) broke teammate Elizabeth Kerpon’s Duke record in the 400-meter by three-tenths of a second last weekend.
Sophomore Madeline Kopp (pictured) broke teammate Elizabeth Kerpon’s Duke record in the 400-meter by three-tenths of a second last weekend.

Duke has just a few meets left to refine its postseason roster with the end of February and the Indoor ACC Championships quickly approaching.

The Blue Devils will head to Blacksburg, Va., for the Virginia Tech Elite Meet Friday and Saturday, previewing the conference championships with some of the top teams in the ACC competing at the Rector Field House.

Duke will get a good look at the ACC field this weekend as many of the teams in the Southeast region will send representatives to Blacksburg. With the conference championships three weeks away, this meet will give the Blue Devils a good warm-up for the conference championships.

“That’s our focus all season long, but we do have some meets like New York in season that are huge meets for us,” director of track and field Norm Ogilvie said. “We are working towards building our best team for the end of February.”

The women’s sprint relay—fresh off their 4-x-200 and 4-x-400 meter program records at the Armory Invitational in New York last weekend—will not compete together this weekend. But sophomore Madeline Kopp and senior Elizabeth Kerpon will face off in the 400-meter individual race. Kopp broke Kerpon’s record in the event by three-tenths of a second in New York, clocking 54.07 seconds. Kerpon will have her chance to reclaim her spot at the top of Duke’s all-time list Friday.

Sophomore Megan Clark, named this week’s ACC Female Field Performer of the Week for her 13 feet, 11 ¼ inches second-place finish at the Armory Collegiate Invitational, will open competition for the Blue Devils Saturday with the women’s pole vault. Clark will look for her fourth consecutive top-three finish in the event this indoor season.

A handful of Duke’s standout runners will be absent from the lineup. The distance runners will take this weekend off to recover from three consecutive weeks of racing before starting another three straight.

The Blue Devils will certainly miss senior Nate McClafferty. McClafferty led off the men’s distance medley relay at the Armory Invitational with a 2:52.05 split for the 1,200 meter leg. The only competitor to run faster was Team USA's Matt Centrowiz, the reigning silver medalist at the World Championships. The senior’s split was the fastest in program history.

Duke will look to Stephen Boals in the shot put and multi-event athletes Ian Rock and Robert Rohner to pick up the slack and to lead the Blue Devils in scoring.

In addition to McClafferty’s top all-time split, the Blue Devils saw three program records fall in New York and two the week before at the Virginia Tech Invitational when Duke last competed at the Rector Field House. The Blue Devils will look to continue this trend Friday and Saturday.

“We will continue to see records being broken in every meet we compete in,” Ogilvie said. “Obviously the better the records get, the harder they are to break, so at some point in our future, the record onslaught will slow down.”

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