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Clark sets year's top NCAA clearance in at Duke Invitational

<p>The Duke Invitational was disrupted by hour-long rain delays both Friday and Saturday, but the inclement weather did not stop the Blue Devils from setting a few more program records.</p>

The Duke Invitational was disrupted by hour-long rain delays both Friday and Saturday, but the inclement weather did not stop the Blue Devils from setting a few more program records.

In the final home contest of her collegiate career, Megan Clark set a new meet and facility record of 14 feet, 10 1/4 inches on her third attempt. But the senior had two more records to break before taking her last jumps in Durham.

Clark claimed the Duke Invitational title, school and conference record and top mark in the NCAA so far this season with a clearance of 15 feet, 2 1/4 inches Saturday—one of two wins and two program records set by Blue Devil seniors in the two-day meet at Morris Williams Track and Field Stadium.

Taking three attempts at 15 feet, 5 3/4 inches, Clark nearly tied the NCAA record held by Sandi Morris of Arkansas.

“That’s the first time that I’ve jumped a national record,” Clark said. “I had a huge support group here—my family, my first pole vault coach. It was awesome to be able to jump so well in front of them.”

Her mark stands as third all-time outdoors by a collegiate athlete, but the Fort Benning, Ga., native has room to climb up the NCAA rankings before turning her attention to the Olympic Trials.

“Her attempts to tie the record—her hips were over on two of those jumps,” Duke director of track and field Norm Ogilvie said. “It’s there. Everyone here is thrilled for her. For now, we have two number-ones in our program—Megan and Shaun Thompson [in the 10,000 meters]. This is huge for us.”

With Clark’s performance as the spark, the Blue Devil seniors continued to shine in the field events.

High jumper Madeline Morrow cleared a collegiate-best 5 feet, 9 3/4 inches for the win in her signature event Saturday. The North Canton, Ohio, native faced a tough test from Campbell’s Shenelle Mckay—who cleared her first four heights with just one attempt—and Morrow needed a second pass at 5 feet, 7 inches. But Morrow sailed over the bar set at the winning height on her second attempt, and Mckay could not produce a clean jump.

In Friday’s rain, Michael Foley earned the second of Duke’s two new records from the weekend with his new personal best in the hammer throw. Hurling the implement 95 feet, 5 inches—59.56 meters—on his third attempt, Foley shattered his own program mark by nearly five and a half feet.

The Paradise Valley, Ariz., native now has his sights set on breaking the 60-meter barrier before hanging up his Duke uniform.

“It was big. I’ve been hovering around 57 [meters] for a while, so I’m excited about it,” Foley said. “I’ve been staying head to the grindstone—that’s what hammer throwing is all about."

The younger Blue Devils also tallied four more event wins to add to the seniors’ highlight reel.

The women’s squad picked up its lone win on the track in the women’s 4-x-100-meter relay. Freshman India Lowe, redshirt senior Teddi Maslowski, junior Madeline Kopp and sophomore Maddy Price faced a close race with East Carolina through the first three legs of the race. A strong anchor by Price helped Duke pull ahead to cross the line first in 45.26 seconds, but it did not matter for the Pirates, who were disqualified for their timing of the baton pass in the final exchange.

Domonique Panton won the women’s triple jump with a mark of 39 feet, 11 1/2 inches. The freshman sits second on the Blue Devils’ all-time list thanks to her personal best jump of 40 feet, 2 inches from the Battle of the Blues April 2.

The men’s middle-distance harriers dominated the field in the 800- and 1,500-meter events. Junior Dylan Murphy claimed the win and meet record in the two-lap race with a personal-best of 1:50.12, and classmate Alec Kunzweiler also clocked a career-best for the win in the mile in 3:46.23.

“That will give Alec a ton of confidence heading into the Penn Relays,” Ogilvie said. “That was faster than his personal record indoors, so that’s definitely the best race he’s run. A lot of guys turned in PRs and got their ACC marks, so hopefully that means we can use [some] wildcards to bring some other guys to Tallahassee.”

The Duke athletes were not the only ones breaking records, though.

Scott Houston of RunGum set the meet and facility record in the men’s pole vault by more than a foot and a half, eclipsing the automatic qualifying mark for the Olympic Trials with his clearance of 18 feet, 6 1/2 inches. Two Nike harriers broke the meet records in the 200-meter dash with Barbara Pierre clocking 23.53 seconds on the women’s side and Josh Edmonds 20.98 on the men’s.

Avion Jones of East Carolina moved up to four on the men’s high jump national leaderboard—tied with Kyle Landon of Southern Illinois—with his winning clearance of 7 feet, 3 1/4 inches Saturday, but the Pirate might have been able to sail even higher. Jones was interrupted in his attempts at 7 feet, 5 inches by inclement weather, and lost his momentum after an hour-long delay.

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