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Impressive relay wins, field-event finishes highlight Armory Track Invitational for Duke track and field

<p>The Blue Devils put forth a dominant performance in the women's 4-x-200 meter relay and men's distance medley relay against a 47-team field.&nbsp;</p>

The Blue Devils put forth a dominant performance in the women's 4-x-200 meter relay and men's distance medley relay against a 47-team field. 

The Blue Devils have begun their indoor season with several impressive performances, and added another record-setting finish to that list Saturday.

The Duke women broke a meet-record in the 4-x-200 meter relay, finishing fourth overall with 57 team points at the Armory Track Invitational in New York. Although the men finished in seventh place with 41 points, the two units combined for 16 personal-best marks and 13 top-10 performances against 47 other teams at the two-day meet.

“I’m really pleased,” said Norm Ogilvie, Blue Devil director of track and field. “Very solid day for the men. The women did fantastic…. Anytime you can win at an event with 47 teams competing, you’ve done a good thing.”

Madeline Kopp, India Lowe, Sydnei Murphy and Maddy Price headlined the meet by placing first in the 4x200 meter relay. The team’s final time of 1:36.37 gave the Blue Devils 10 points and broke an Armory Invitational record previously set by Mississippi State.

Ogilvie said the relay team’s finish was especially notable since it was faster than the final times of a separate international relay race Saturday that involved national squads, including teams from some of the U.S. and Jamaica.

In the women’s 200 meters, Murphy recorded a standout finish with a time of 24:37. Although she placed ninth and did not advance to the final heat, her finish was a personal-best and ranks third in Duke history.

The Blue Devils then added another 23.5 points toward the end of the meet by sweeping the top three spots of the women’s pole vault. Junior Madison Heath led the way with a clearance of 13 feet, 9 1/4 inches, and freshmen Laura Marty and Chesney Ward each set personal-bests with tallies of 13 feet, 1 1/2 inches. Sophomore Natti Shepard gave Duke an additional 3.5 points with a fifth-place finish.

“[Heath] was the most outstanding female competitor,” Ogilvie said. “She almost cleared the bar at 14 feet, 2 inches, which would have put her into the NCAA meet for sure.”

Despite recording 16 fewer points than the women, the men’s unit also notched several impressive finishes. The men finished the first day of the meet in second place before dropping five spots Saturday.

Brett Bofinger, Matt Wisner, Dylan Murphy and Alec Kunzweiler began the meet by winning the distance medley relay—which consists of a 1,200-meter leg, a 400-meter leg, an 800-meter leg and a 1,600-meter leg—Friday with a time of 9:55.37, which ranks first in the ACC. The freshman Wisner gave the Blue Devils a strong start with the top leadoff leg in the relay.

Wisner also notched the fastest split in Duke’s fourth-place finish Saturday in the 4-x-800 meter relay.

“He was the most impressive male of the weekend,” Ogilvie said. “His split of 1:50.88 [Saturday], for a freshman, is really good.”

In the men’s high jump, junior Colt Sessions and sophomore Rivers Rideout gave Duke two more top-five tallies with first and fourth-place finishes. Sessions cleared a personal best of 6 feet, 9 3/4 inches and Rideout recorded a clearance of 6 feet, 6 1/4 inches.

Sophomore Stephen Garrett rounded out the Blue Devils’ top performers by winning the 5,000 meters in 14:39.89. The Wilmington, Del., native was in second place entering the last lap, but covered the final 200 meters in 29 seconds to edge out Columbia’s George Miao for his first career victory.

“It was a great win for him,” Ogilvie said. “We didn’t know Stephen could run that fast for a 200…. He’s starting to break through to where we thought he could be.”

Several other Duke men stayed in North Carolina as they competed in the Camel City Invite in Winston-Salem Friday.

Juniors Josiah Hanko and Matt Lupino each registered personal-bests in the mile by clocking in at 4:22.53 and 4:29.54, respectively. Freshman Caleb Swanford also finished fourth in the pole vault, notching a personal best with a height of 14 feet, 11 inches.

Duke will now have a week off before they split up again for the Liberty Invitational in Lynchburg, Va., and Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville Ark., next week. Ogilvie said that some Blue Devils who have competed in Duke’s last four events would miss both events to rest.

“The next meet isn’t quite as important,” Ogilvie said. “We’re in a really good place…. We need to carry our momentum into the ACC championships in late February.” 


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