After top-two team finishes last weekend at the Dick Taylor Carolina Cup, the Blue Devils will look to carry their strong performances to the Hokie Invite this weekend against stiffer competition.
Duke will take on No. 1 Florida on the men's side as well as ranked ACC foes Virginia Tech and N.C. State at its second event of 2017 Friday and Saturday at Rector Field House in Blacksburg, Va. The meet will also feature the nearby schools of Coastal Carolina, East Carolina, Charlotte, East Tennessee State, Virginia Commonwealth, Marshall, North Carolina A&T, Hampton and Radford as part of a 13-team field that should test the Blue Devils.
This early-season meet will principally serve as an opportunity for Duke to compete for ACC and NCAA qualification marks since team results will not be scored.
“We’re trying to figure out how much we can improve from one week to the next,” said Norm Ogilvie, Blue Devil director of track and field. “Working on refining technique and learning how to compete. We’re a really young team, got a lot of freshmen.”
Although Duke is relying on a young crop of underclassmen this spring, junior Madison Heath anchors the Blue Devil women in the pole vault as one of the nation's best. Heath cleared 13 feet, 7 1/4 inches to give Duke the top mark in the ACC early in the year, and is currently slated as the sixth-best pole vaulter in the nation.
Sophomore Sydnei Murphy will lead the Blue Devil runners after posting a school-record in the 60 meters with a 7.49-second effort last week. Murphy already met the ACC qualification standard, but will look to put forth another strong effort against the sixth-ranked Florida women.
The versatile Apex, N.C., native will also compete in the long jump after posting the ACC's third-best mark in that event in Chapel Hill last week.
Murphy's classmate, India Lowe, could also have a big weekend after winning the 200 meters to open 2017.
Amarie Bremmel rounds out the Duke women who have already posted ACC-qualifying performances, as the senior excelled in the shot put with a throw of 44 feet, 7 inches.
On the men's side, many eyes will be on the field events for the Blue Devils, who swept the pole-vault podium at the Carolina Cup thanks to senior Connor Hall and freshmen Esteban Suarez and Caleb Sanford, but will take on a Virginia Tech team that returns six of the seven pole vaulters that dominated last year's ACC outdoor championship.
The high-jump tandem of sophomore Rivers Ridout and junior Colt Sessions will also look to build on its strong start to the spring.
After getting a standout effort from freshman Matt Wisner last week—the rookie won the 800 meters wire-to-wire—Duke will look to its mid-distance runners individually and in relays on the men's and women's sides to pick up points on the track.
Following this weekend's meet, the Blue Devils will have another week off before competing at the Clemson ACC Challenge.
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