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Slew of top-3 finishes highlight Vertklasse Meeting for Duke track and field

Another strong effort from thrower Stephen Boals highlighted a strong effort from the Blue Devils in their final outdoor preseason meet.
Another strong effort from thrower Stephen Boals highlighted a strong effort from the Blue Devils in their final outdoor preseason meet.

The Blue Devils geared for their first scored meet of the outdoor season with another round of impressive performances in their final preseason meet.

Duke recorded 11 event wins through Friday and Saturday’s competition at the Vertklasse Meeting. Stephen Boals new outdoor personal-best throw in the shot put highlighted the opening day of action in High Point, N.C.

“He had five throws out in the mid-17 meter range, which is probably the best series he has ever had. He had an outstanding weekend,” director of track and field Norm Ogilvie said. “It’s only a matter of time before he throws 18 meters like he did at the ACC Indoor Championships. We are looking for big things for him.”

By throwing 58 feet, 6 ¾ inches (17.85 meters), the redshirt junior took first by more than seven feet. He finished second in Saturday’s discus with a mark of 175 feet, 3 inches.

Sophomore Stephen Shine earned a second victory for the Blue Devils Friday in the men’s 5,000 meters. Shine finished in 14:42.74—just a half-second ahead of Justin Gragg, running unattached.

In Saturday’s events, Duke took home nine victories.

The Blue Devils dominated the 800 meters, sweeping the top three spots on the men’s side and claiming first and third on the women’s side.

Freshmen Kyle Francis and Jordan Burton jumped out to the front of the pack in the first lap of the men’s race. But senior Nate McClafferty came on strong in the final 200 meters to pass his teammates and the rest of the field, earning the victory in 1:53.04. The freshmen held on, with Francis finishing second in 1:53.55 and Burton third in 1:53.83.

On the women’s side, sophomore Madeline Kopp finished first in 2:11.05, with her senior teammate Lauren Hansson crossing the line behind her in 2:12.90 for third.

“To run 2:11 in windy conditions is really special,” Ogilvie said. “Those two girls from the women’s 4-x-400 moved up to the 800 and had really impressive races. And there was total domination on the men’s side. Our two freshmen held off everybody else, so the 1-2-3 was a pleasant surprise.”

Another star of the Duke women’s 4-x-400 relay made her collegiate debut in the 400-meter hurdles. Freshman Maddy Price finished first in 1:01.08—good for the third-fastest time in program history.

Price, Kopp, Hansson and senior Elizabeth Kerpon wrapped up their weekend with a win in the 4-x-100 meter relay, clocking a combined time of 45.91 seconds. After posting the second-fastest time in school history, the quartet will have another record in their sights for the upcoming season.

In the final event of the evening, graduate student Erica Brand threw for a personal best and meet record in the women’s discus. Her mark of 171 feet, 6 inches bested the competition’s by nearly a half-meter.

Ogilvie was pleased with his squad’s performance at High Point and is looking forward to the first scored meet of the outdoor season.

The Blue Devils will host the two-day Duke Invitational beginning April 10, when they will unveil the recently-constructed Morris William Track & Field Stadium.

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