With the ACC indoor championships looming just three weeks away, the Blue Devils will look to kick into high gear this weekend at their first of two elite meets in New York.
Duke will send a select group of 22 men and 20 women to compete in the two-day Armory Collegiate Invitational at the New Balance Track and Field Center, aiming to feed off of its toughest competition to date and earn more conference-qualifying marks.
The No. 17 Blue Devil women hope to make a run at the team title against No. 9 Wisconsin and No. 16 Miami after claiming second overall last year, and the men’s squad will aim to improve on its 12th-place finish in 2015. Trophies will be awarded to the top four men’s teams and top four women’s teams.
“This has traditionally been one of the biggest meets of the indoor season, and our goal is to come away with two team trophies,” Duke director of track and field Norm Ogilvie said. “Both of our teams have won trophies in the past, but we have never had both teams win them in the same year, so we are looking to achieve a program-first this weekend.”
On the track, the Blue Devils should be able to tally key points in the women’s sprint relays and the men’s distance relays. The full relay order will be determined after Duke competes in its first races Friday, but the women’s 4-x-200 and 4-x-400 meter relays will be headlined by returning NCAA qualifiers Madeline Kopp and Maddy Price. Sophomore Jordan Burton and redshirt junior Michal Filipczak will run on both men’s distance relays with Burton anchoring the distance medley with the mile leg and Filipczak on the third leg of the 4-x-800 meters and racing the same distance in the distance medley relay.
The women’s pole vault duo of senior Megan Clark and sophomore Madison Heath is also expected to feature prominently in the team score. After vaulting a season-best 14 feet, 5 1/4 inches at the Camel City Invitational last weekend, Clark holds the second-highest mark in the nation so far this season and the top seed for Saturday’s competition.
“We are gradually working on getting her on bigger poles and gripping higher each week,” Duke associate head coach Shawn Wilbourn said. “That is the plan for this week and to maintain the same technique, and hopefully that is going to continue to equal higher heights. The plan is—just like last year—jumping her best at NCAAs.”
Heath will aim to improve on her mark of 13 feet, 5 1/4 inches from the Camel City Invitational by more than four inches in hopes of securing a spot for the NCAA indoor championships in Hoover, Ala., March 11-12.
“With Madison, she is still developing. Yes, we are getting on bigger poles, but the goal right now for her is to qualify for NCAAs,” Wilbourn said. “That’s what the goal is for this weekend in New York. She’s going to have to jump 4.26 [meters], 4.30 [meters], which she has showed in practice she is capable of doing.”
The multi-event specialists will not compete in their full slates of five or seven contests but will focus on a handful of individual events this weekend.
Redshirt senior Karli Johonnot likely punched her ticket to Hoover in the women’s pentathlon with a converted total of 4,304 points from her school record and individual win at the Tobacco Road Cup Jan. 22. Classmate Teddi Maslowski has been recovering from an ankle injury but will look to return to top form by the ACC championships to make her bid for the national championships. Both redshirt seniors will compete in the long jump and 60-meter hurdles, and Johonnot will contest her signature high jump.
“With Karli, it is nice to have that mark which is going to get her into NCAAs so that now we can fine-tune things as we progress toward the championships. We will be able to work on some of her weaker events and bring those up,” Wilbourn said. “Teddi has had an ankle injury and has been gradually getting back from that. At the Tobacco Cup it was bothering her, so I pulled her out. The goal is to get her going at ACCs and get her qualified. She’s just on a little bit of a different timeline.”
The Blue Devils will also bring a talented group of sprinters to New York, including standout freshman Sydnei Murphy.
The beginning of Murphy’s season was interrupted by intestinal problems, but the Apex, N.C., native still managed to tie the program record in her season debut in the 60-meter dash set by Janay McKie in 2002 of 7.57 seconds. Murphy is entered in this weekend’s 60-meter dash and the triple jump and could also play a part in Duke’s relays.
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