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Duke track and field wins Duke Invitational, breaks records after Morris Williams Stadium dedication

The Blue Devils set five school records in their first home meet at Morris Williams Stadium.
The Blue Devils set five school records in their first home meet at Morris Williams Stadium.

Competing in their first-ever home meet in their new home, the Blue Devils wasted no time settling in.

Duke set five school records and took home the women's title this weekend at the Duke Invitational, an auspicious beginning for Morris Williams Stadium. The new facility has been open since January, but was officially dedicated to its namesake in a ceremony Saturday morning before the second day of competition got underway.

The stadium—which includes bleacher seating for 500 people and is serviced by the dual-purpose Kennedy Tower—was made possible by a $5 million donation from Morris Williams and his wife, Ruth.

"Morris and Ruth have been phenomenal benefactors to our university," Kevin White, vice president and director of athletics, said during Saturday's dedication ceremony. "This is a magical moment for athletics at Duke. The Williams Stadium is kind of a cornerstone facility relative to everything else that we're creating here."

A former member of the Board of Trustees and the 2003 recipient of the University Medal, Morris Williams, Trinity '62, has been closely involved with the University since he first came to Durham. The Williams family has made several contributions to the Duke Divinity School and created the Ruth and A. Morris Williams Jr. Faculty Research Prize through the School of Medicine in 2001.

Williams sat on the Athletics Advisory and Leadership boards and has also been involved with projects with the Duke career services office and in the Durham area.

"He has given the gift of his wisdom to this university, he's given the gift of his loyalty, but in terms of his philanthropic generosity, few people have embraced the university as he has," President Richard Brodhead said.

The start of construction on the new track complex was one of the first dominoes to fall in the series of campus-wide athletic facilities upgrades. After ground broke on Morris Williams Stadium, construction crews could move forward and begin tearing out the old track circling the football field—a process that began immediately after the Blue Devils' regular season finale—to kickstart the two-year, $100 million renovation to Wallace Wade Stadium.

Brodhead noted in his remarks Saturday that Duke's track and field facilities were in sore need of an upgrade, hypothesizing that the last significant upgrades to the old track took place "in the early years of Wallace Wade himself."

For Williams, creating a unifying space for the track and field team was an important part of the stadium.

"I had a feeling that it was time that track had its own dedicated stadium. I felt that having events being scattered—whether they were by the president's house or by East Campus or in Wallace Wade—it was time," Williams said. "I'm so proud to be associated with the Duke University track and field team of today and the teams of tomorrow."

Before this weekend's Duke Invitational, the Blue Devils' home meets were spread out across campus, with track events taking place in Wallace Wade and throwing events taking place out near the president's house at Cameron Boulevard and Duke University Road.

Duke track and field athletes from the Class of 1948 to the freshman Class of 2018—were on hand for the dedication ceremony to show their appreciation for the new venue and its namesake.

"We have 70 years of Duke track and field family here today to honor our history and look forward to a promising new future here today at our beautiful new home," director of track and field Norm Ogilvie said.

After taking in the ceremony in the morning, the Blue Devils spent the afternoon putting on a show of their own. Duke claimed a 50-point margin of victory on the women's side and finished third on the men's side with 122 points.

The school record in the women's long jump was felled twice in one afternoon, as redshirt junior Teddi Maslowski broke the mark with a leap of 20 feet, 2 1/4 inches, only to best that leap by two inches just three jumps later. The Burgettstown, Pa., native claimed the win in that event before taking to the 100 meter hurdles, where she finished second.

The women's 4x100 meter relay turned in another record-breaking performance, as senior Lauren Hansson, freshman Maddy Price, sophomore Madeline Kopp and senior Elizabeth Kerpon took the baton around the track in a time of 44.92 seconds, finishing second. Kopp was not done rewriting the record books Saturday, sprinting across the line with a win in the 100 meters in a time of 53.04 seconds, slicing 0.69 seconds off her own school record.

Junior Megan Clark continued to rise above the competition—and the bar—in the pole vault, clearing 14 feet, 9 inches on her first attempt to break the program outdoor record. The NCAA Indoor Championship silver medalist won the event, recording the second-highest jump of the 2015 outdoor season in the nation in the process.

The Duke throwers enjoyed similar success, competing on the infield of the track for the first time at a home meet. Redshirt junior Stephen Boals won the shot put with a 57 foot, 5 3/4 meter heave after taking second place in the discus, and redshirt senior Thomas Lang claimed victory in the javelin with a career-best throw of 229 feet, 6 inches—the second farthest toss in program history. The strong showing followed up Friday's first record-breaking performance, as junior Michael Foley won the hammer throw with his mark of 190 feet.

Madison Granger and Nate McClafferty led Duke to first-place finishes in both mile races, with McClafferty using a late push to cross the line first in 4:07.36. Twins Haley and Hannah Meier were close behind Granger in the women's race, finishing second and fourth, respectively.

Redshirt sophomore DeVon Edwards—a standout return man for David Cutcliffe's football team—made his spring debut with a fourth-place finish in the 100 meter dash.

With all events at last located at one venue and a large scoreboard overhead, the Blue Devils look primed for years of success at their new home.

"They tell me that this track is better than the track that was in Wallace Wade," Williams said. "I certainly hope it is."

So far, so good.


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