The Blue Devils are no strangers to the historic Penn Relays—which began as the world’s first relay meet in 1895 and has become America’s largest track meet, drawing as many as 100,000 spectators.
Last season, the men’s 4-x-200 relay was the highlight of the competition, earning a third-place finish. This year, Duke’s relay squads and a handful of individual-event athletes will head to Philadelphia Thursday for three days of competition against the nation’s best—such as No. 3 Oregon, No. 5 Villanova and No. 15 Penn State—hoping to give the program’s best performance to date on the big stage.
The Blue Devils have lofty expectations for their men’s distance medley relay Friday evening. The lineup will feature freshman Sean Kelly with the opening 1,200 meters, classmate Bret Bofinger running the 400 meters, senior Henry Farley on the 800 meters and senior Nate McClafferty closing out the final mile.
“This is probably our biggest event of the whole meet,” director of track and field Norm Ogilvie said. “They will be going up against some of the very top programs in the country like Oregon and Villanova. That will be a chance for Nate to show off his four-minute-mile feet. And all members of that relay ran PRs at their respective distances at Georgia Tech, so we are coming in with very high hopes.”
Saturday in Atlanta at the Georgia Tech Invite, Farley ran a personal best in the 800 meters with a time of 1:50.34 and Bofinger led Duke across the line in 48.28 seconds in the 400 meters. McClafferty and Kelly both recorded career-bests in Friday’s 1,500 meters, with the senior crossing the line in 3:43.78 and the rookie in 3:47.91.
The women’s distance medley relay will also look for a strong showing in front of Thursday’s crowd. Sophomore Haley Meier will anchor with the mile leg and junior Anima Banks will lead off the first 1,200 meters.
Banks will also compete in the women’s sprint medley relay Friday. The Blue Devils are seeded fifth in the event—the best entry position in the event in program history.
The women’s 4-x-400 meter relay also earned a fifth seed with its school-record time of 3:32.56 from the NCAA Indoor Championships. The sprint quartet of seniors Lauren Hansson and Elizabeth Kerpon, sophomore Madeline Kopp and freshman Maddy Price will also compete in Saturday’s 4-x-200 meter relay.
Both men’s sprint relays—the 4-x-100 and the sprint medley—will feature football players DeVon Edwards and Ryan Smith.
The Blue Devils will send one of their largest contingents of distance runners in recent years to compete in Thursday’s distance carnival. Six Duke harriers will compete in either the 3,000 or 5,000 meters and junior William Rooney will compete in the first 10,000 meter race of his career.
“We are expecting some great distance races,” Ogilvie said. “There’s going to be cool weather in Philadelphia, probably in the upper 40s. And that’s perfect distance running weather.”
Junior Maddie Morrow and redshirt junior Teddi Maslowski will kick off the competition for the Blue Devils Thursday morning, with Morrow competing in the high jump and Maslowski looking to break her own school record in the long jump.
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