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Distance medley shines for Duke track and field, closes in on NCAA indoors berth

<p>Madeline Kopp and the rest of the Duke distance medley relay team posted the 10th-fastest time in the nation this weekend and will hope that time is good enough to earn the Blue Devils a trip to the NCAA indoor championships March 11-12.</p>

Madeline Kopp and the rest of the Duke distance medley relay team posted the 10th-fastest time in the nation this weekend and will hope that time is good enough to earn the Blue Devils a trip to the NCAA indoor championships March 11-12.

The Blue Devils split for separate competitions this weekend looking to add to their list of athletes in the hunt for a trip to Hoover, Ala., for the NCAA championships March 11-12, and may have done just that.

Duke’s women's distance medley relay recorded the 10th-fastest time in the nation at the UCS Invitational in Winston-Salem, N.C., at the JDL Fast Track while the rest of the team made its first and only trip of the season to Blacksburg, Va., for the Virginia Tech Challenge Friday and Saturday.

The quartet of Kim Hallowes, Maddy Price, Madeline Kopp and Anima Banks combined for third place in 11:11.38. Taking the conversion for flat and banked tracks into account, Duke broke into the national rankings in the event at 10th with a converted time of 11:04.27. The Blue Devils will have to wait until the end of the qualifying period March 2 to see if they will advance to the NCAA championships in Hoover with a top-12 time.

“That’s the number-one story of the weekend. Everybody was coming through with career races,” Duke director of track and field Norm Ogilvie said. “They should be in the NCAA meet. Usually there is very little movement in that event during conference meet weekend because normally teams will focus on running individual events to score points.”

Hallowes split 3:27.54 for the opening 1,200-meter split—the first race of her collegiate career at that distance—400-meter specialists Price and Kopp took the 400- and 800-meter legs in 54.04 seconds and 2:09.99, respectively, and Banks brought home the final mile in 4:39.80.

Forty-six Duke athletes made the trip to Blacksburg, Va., for the Virginia Tech Challenge, where redshirt senior Teddi Maslowski as well the men’s distance crew delivered the highlight performances of the team’s 10 total wins.

Maslowski lowered her program-record time in the 60-meter hurdles twice Friday, clocking the fastest time in the preliminary heats of 8.38 seconds and lowering the mark again in the finals, claiming the win by three one-hundredths of a second and stopping the clock at 8.34 seconds. The redshirt senior struggled with a lingering ankle injury at the beginning of the indoor season, but seems to have returned to top form in time for the ACC championships in Boston next week.

“It’s hard to tell when Teddi is at 100 percent because she always seems to be battling through some injury,” Ogilvie said. “When you’re a multi-event athlete, there are always going to be challenges physically because you are trying to do so many things at once. But Teddi is as tough as they come and really a tenacious competitor. She’s primed and ready to give it a really good go at the ACC meet.”

But Maslowski was not done. Leaving the track for the long jump—her signature field event—the Burgettstown, Pa., native claimed the win by more than four inches with a mark of 20 feet, 2 1/2 inches on her final attempt. Her classmate and fellow multi-event specialist Karli Johonnot finished in fifth with a mark of 18 feet, 9 3/4 inches.

The men’s distance harriers contributed wins in three individual events and two relays to cap the weekend in Blacksburg.

Daniel Moore and William Rooney went one-two in the 5,000 meters in 14:36.95 and 14:49.74, respectively. Not to be outdone, Stephen Shine, William Hague and freshman Stephen Garrett swept the top three spots in the 3,000 meters. Shine led the field across the line in 8:19.47, Hague followed in 8:25.19 and the rookie in 8:28.77.

“We are really happy for Daniel. That was his first collegiate win in track, and he’ll be running the 5,000 at ACCs,” Ogilvie said. “There wasn’t a lot of outside competition in the 3,000, so the Duke guys had to do it ourselves. Stephen ran a very nice technical race and out-kicked William Hague to do so, but he didn’t quite get the ACC time we were looking for.”

In Friday’s 800 meters, Dylan Murphy and Kyle Francis claimed the top two spots in 1:51.86 and 1:52.22. Alec Kunzweiler, Michal Filipczak, Murphy and Blake Udland teamed up for the winning time in the men’s distance medley relay, outpacing Virginia Tech by four seconds for the win in 9:50.66. Next up in the 4-x-800 meter relay, Tommy Meister, Jordan Burton, Sean Kelly and Francis beat the Hokies across the line again, stopping the clock in 7:34.83.

“We had to make our own competition [in the distance medley relay] and get out there and run in a time-trial-like situation,” Ogilvie said. “The fact that the 4-x-800 was the very next event in the schedule after the [distance medley relay] just illustrates our depth. Usually your lineups for those two relays are the same, but [we] threw another four guys at them in the 4-x-800 and they ran very well.”

The Duke women tallied two more field-event victories in the triple jump and shot put. Freshman Domonique Panton earned her first collegiate win with a season-best leap of 38 feet, 11 3/4 inches in the triple jump. Redshirt junior Urina Harrell threw for a personal-best 49 feet, 9 1/4 inches for the top mark in the competition and second-best mark on the program all-time list.

Representing Duke at the prestigious Millrose Games in New York, senior pole vaulter Megan Clark turned in her second-best mark of the season for fourth in a field of professional athletes. Clark cleared her three opening heights on the first attempt, faltered once at 14 feet, 1 inch but recovered and cleared 14 feet, 9 inches without difficulty. The Fort Benning, Ga., native was unable to equal her personal best of 15 feet, 1 inch which she set at the Armory Invitational two weeks ago.

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