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Record-setting performances in the field lift Duke track and field women to home title

<p>The Blue Devils got several standout performances on the track en route to their first outdoor team title of the spring.&nbsp;</p>

The Blue Devils got several standout performances on the track en route to their first outdoor team title of the spring. 

With a strong performance at last week’s Raleigh Relays under their belt, the Blue Devils looked to build on their successes in this weekend’s Battle of the Blues.

And thanks to dominant performances from the women’s team, Duke is hitting its stride at the right time heading into the heart of the season.

In their first home meet of the season, the Blue Devil women took down No. 21 Michigan and North Carolina Saturday at Morris Williams Stadium. Led by an international record-breaking hammer throw from sophomore Stefani Vukajlovic and standout runs from senior Madeline Kopp, Duke tallied 75 points to the Wolverines’ 62 and the Tar Heels’ 59.

Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, Michigan turned it around on the men’s side with a 101-point domination against the home team’s 54 and North Carolina’s 45.

“It was a great meet,” Duke director of track and field Norm Ogilvie said. “All three schools really enjoyed it. We had spectacular weather today and we had some really good performances.... Michigan men competed well, Michigan women are really good as well—we were just a little better today.”

The Blue Devil women started the afternoon with a highlight in the opening event—the women’s hammer throw. Vukajlovic smashed both the school and the Bosnian record with a throw of 190 feet, 4 inches.

Duke continued to shine on the field throughout the day. Senior Amarie Bremel posted a 159-foot, 11-inch throw to claim the discus title, and sophomores Sydnei Murphy and Jaida Lemmons took first and second in the long jump. Murphy’s best jump at 21 feet, 0.5 inches set a new school and stadium record.

Although North Carolina took home the titles in shot put and high jump, the Blue Devils responded with a one-through-three sweep of the pole vault led by junior Madison Heath, freshman Laura Marty and freshman Chesney Ward. Rounding out the successes on the field, sophomore Domonique Panton took home the title in the triple jump for the second year in a row.

On the track, Duke found itself in a much tighter battle against the Wolverines.

The Blue Devil relay team of Murphy, Kopp, Panton and sophomore MacKenzie Kerr opened with a dominant 4-x-100-meter relay against Michigan, posting a time of 45.48 seconds to the Wolverines’ 46.57. Michigan responded in the 1,500 meters to take first and second, giving it an early lead.

However, Murphy wasn’t about to let Duke fall too far behind in clocking the second-best time in program history at 11.70 seconds to claim the 100-meter dash. Kopp followed that up in the 400 meters by breaking a facility record at 52.91 seconds, staking her claim as one of only five Division I athletes this year to run the 400 in fewer than 53 seconds. Although the Tar Heels claimed the 4-x-400-meter relay title, Kopp delivered a second outstanding performance in her leg as the anchor, circling the track in 52.3 seconds.

“We tried to get [the women’s team] fired up for this one,” Ogilvie said. “When you get to compete against Michigan and UNC—top 25 teams in the country—it’s pretty easy to get fired up.”

Although the men’s team struggled to get past the Wolverines, Duke still had some standout performances.

After Michigan swept both the men’s 4x100 meter relay and the 1,500 meter race, Blue Devil junior Jeremy McDuffie—also a safety on the football team—and graduate student Daniel Golubovic put Duke’s first points on the board by taking first and third in the 110-meter hurdles, respectively.

The Blue Devils also found traction in the 800 meters, with senior Dylan Murphy taking first at 1:50.73, followed by freshman Matt Wisner in second and juniors Kyle Francis and Jordan Burton taking fifth and sixth.

But Michigan swept both the 3,000-meter steeplechase and 3,000 meters, widening the gap between Duke and the Wolverines, and the Tar Heels took the 400-meter hurdles.

“I’m very proud of our 800-meter runners,” Ogilvie said. “The Michigan men are kind of a middle distance machine. They swept the 3K and the 1,500. We went one-two and five-six in the 800—that bodes really well for our middle distance relays.”

Luckily for the Blue Devils, Duke showed up on the field to keep the Tar Heels at bay.

Senior Connor Hall won the pole vault with a best jump of 16 feet, 7.5 inches, and sophomores Rivers Ridout and Colt Sessions took first and third, respectively, in the high jump. Although North Carolina swept the long jump, the Blue Devils came right back in the javelin throw to take first, third, fourth and fifth led by freshman Michael Marsack.

Duke found one last win in the field thanks to McDuffie, who triple-jumped 51 feet, 1.5 inches to break the original meet record of 49 feet, 9 inches.

“On the men’s side, we beat our arch-rival UNC—that was kind of our goal,” Ogilvie said. “We knew Michigan had a fantastic men’s team, but we had people just really fight.”

The Blue Devils will be back in action next week at the Tennessee Relays, where they will compete for three days in Knoxville from Thursday to Saturday.

“For Tennessee, we’re going to take as many people as we feel can be nationally competitive,” Ogilvie said. “That’s the kind of field it is—a nationally competitive field.”


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