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Field specialists shine for Duke track and field at Raleigh Relays to open outdoor season

<p>Connor Hall and the Blue Devils posted several top-10 finishes in their first outdoor meet of 2017.&nbsp;</p>

Connor Hall and the Blue Devils posted several top-10 finishes in their first outdoor meet of 2017. 

After a month off since their last meet and the end of the indoor season, the Blue Devils showed few signs of rust in their first event of the outdoor season.

Duke registered 11 top-10 finishes against teams from across the country at the Raleigh Relays Friday and Saturday at the Dail Soccer Field/Track Complex at N.C. State.

Although the competition served as a tune-up for the Blue Devils’ home meet next Saturday, freshman Katelyn Gochenour highlighted the weekend by breaking a decade-old school record in the first outing of her career in the javelin.

“We had a good weekend. We got what we wanted out of it,” Duke director of track and field Norm Ogilvie said. “We’re trying to get everybody 100 percent for our big meet next weekend, which is called Battle of the Blues [with North Carolina] and Michigan."

A former national champion in high school in the women’s javelin, Gochenour began the year late because the javelin is only an outdoor event. But the Logan, Iowa, native exceeded expectations Saturday by finishing first and breaking a Blue Devil record previously set in 2007 with a throw of 169 feet, 9 inches.

Although senior Christine Streisel did not register a career-best performance, she also started the season strong, finishing second in the javelin with a throw of 151 feet, 3 inches.

“The biggest thing we wanted to see this weekend was the debut of [Gochenour],” Ogilvie said. “We figured she would give us a great start to her Duke career this weekend and she did not disappoint.... She smoked it.”

The women’s sprint squad also recorded one of its best performances of the year. Madeline Kopp, Maddy Price, Sydnei Murphy and MacKenzie Kerr kicked off the meet Friday by finishing the sprint medley relay in 3:55.07, the fourth fastest time in school history.

The sprinters then continued their momentum into the 100-meter dash by claiming three of the top four spots. Price placed first with a time of 11.69, and Murphy and Kopp finished third and fourth, respectively, less than 0.2 seconds behind Price.

Murphy, Kopp, Kerr and sophomore Domonique Panton recorded yet another top finish when they placed first in the 4-x-200-meter relay with a time of 1:36.79.

“[It was a] good showing for our women’s sprinters,” Ogilvie said.

Freshman Tracy Jander rounded out the women’s squad’s top performers, finishing first in the high jump. Like the javelin, the high jump is only an outdoor event, and Jander posted a leap of 5 feet, 5 inches in her first career outing.

On the men’s side, the Blue Devils continued their success in the javelin as freshman Michael Marsack rose into the school record books. The Stroudsberg, Pa., native finished second with a throw of 214 feet, 10 inches, the fourth-best throw in program history.

In the men’s pole vault, senior Connor Hall claimed the Duke men's unit’s only first-place finish, routing the field with a clearance of 16 feet, 7.25 inches—the next closest competitors finished more than a foot behind him.

Sophomore Rivers Ridout then recorded a top collegiate mark, finishing second with a leap of 6 feet, 10.75 inches.

“[Ridout’s performance] was the No. 3 all-time performance at Duke in outdoors,” Ogilvie said. “It was a really good result for Hall as well.”

Ogilvie noted that several Blue Devils rested with sore muscles and tendons as they try to adjust to running outdoors more and regain their rhythm after time off during Spring Break. Others, such as some of the distance runners, participated in non-specialty events at the Raleigh Relays to practice their speed and prepare for upcoming meets.

Duke will now have a week off before it hosts the Battle of the Blues—the Blue Devils' first of two home meets of the outdoor season.

“Battle of the Blues is a three-way scoring meet,” Ogilvie said. “We’re excited about the scoring meet with [North Carolina] and Michigan because they’re two of the better track teams in the country and we like competing against each other.” 


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