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Duke track and field wraps up indoor regular season with numerous titles and personal-best finishes

Dick Taylor Carolina Cup
Dick Taylor Carolina Cup

Several Blue Devils have been in and out of the lineup the past few weeks gearing up for the ACC indoor championship, but Duke has still set several personal-best marks as the indoor season winds down.

The Blue Devils sent competitors to a quartet of meets the last few weeks, concluding with the Virginia Tech Challenge this weekend in Blacksburg, Va., and UCS Invitational in Winston-Salem, N.C. Last week, Duke had representatives at the Liberty Invitational in Lynchburg, Va., and the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark. 

Freshman mid-distance runner Matt Wisner highlighted the few weeks for the Blue Devil men by staying undefeated in the 800 meters in Blacksburg, and junior Brett Bofinger captured the 400-meter crown and posted the second-best time in Duke history. 

On the women's side, the Blue Devils' young crop of sprinters continued to impress, with the 4-x-400-meter relay notching second place against a stacked field in Arkansas last week with the second-best Duke time ever.

“It was a good [few weekends]. We had several outright wins,” Norm Ogilvie, Blue Devil director of track and field, said Saturday. “The guys are making final preparations for ACC. The team in Blacksburg competed well.”

Last week in Arkansas, the quartet of sophomore India Lowe, senior Madeline Kopp, sophomore MacKenzie Kerr and junior Maddy Price excelled by posting a 3:36.30 in the 4-x-400-meter relay against a field with multiple ranked opponents.

Lowe also stood out a week later by finishing third in the 400 meters in Blacksburg with a 54.92-second run, showing her versatility as a competitor who can also run the 60- and 200-meter events. 

Sophomore Sydnei Murphy qualified for the semifinals in the 60-meter competition in Arkansas last week, posting a time of 7.53 seconds. She too displayed her ability to shine in multiple events, grabbing fourth in the long jump with a mark of 20 feet, 1/2 inch. 

Classmate Domonique Panton competed in a similar slate of events this weekend, taking fourth in the 60 meters with a 7.83-second burst then placing second with a leap of more than 39 feet in the triple jump that was comparable to Murphy's effort a week earlier.

The female pole vaulters continued shining leading up to the indoor postseason, with junior Madison Heath bouncing back from a subpar effort in Arkansas by matching her best clearance of the season of 14 feet in Blacksburg this weekend. She will take plenty of momentum into the ACC championship, and will be joined next week by freshmen Laura Marty and Chesney Ward, who notched top-seven finishes at Virginia Tech. 

The remaining women’s highlights this weekend from Blacksburg were sophomore Jaida Lemmon’s long jump of 18 feet, 8 inches to finish in second place, junior Amarie Bremel’s second-place shot put of 45 feet 2 inches, and sophomore Stefani Vukajlovic’s second-place finish in the women’s weight with a throw of 55 feet, 6 inches.

At the UCS Invitational in Winston-Salem, the women's distance medley relay of sophomore Kim Hallowes, freshman Brittany Aveni, Kopp and sophomore Liz Lansing posted a season-best 11:27.47 to finish third, and a slew of men's and women's distance runners set personal-best times in individual competition the last few weeks. 

But Wisner's third straight individual win in the 800 meters this weekend in Blacksburg stole the show for the men, with the rookie leading all four laps and posting a time of 1:53.99. Bofinger also starred, beating four Virginia Tech sprinters with a 48.57-second run.

He and sophomore Tionne Barmer also posted top-six finishes in the 60 meters, finishing in 7.11 and 7.13 seconds, respectively. Barmer also grabbed fourth place in the 200 meters with a time of 22.63 seconds.

On the men’s distance side, sophomore Josiah Hanko ran a 4:13.12 mile and finished in second place. Matt Luppino finished third in the 3,000 meters with a time of 8:40.94.

In men’s field events, sophomore Jack Maher took first with a throw of 49 feet, 8 inches, and fellow sophomore Iyin Battle then finished third in the men’s weight with a throw of 53 feet, 3 inches.

After getting a slew of personal-best performances, the Blue Devils will now travel to South Bend, Ind., for the ACC championship Thursday through Saturday. Duke will take on three top-25 men's sides as it kicks off the indoor postseason, with its top competitors also eyeing the NCAA indoor championships March 10. 

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