With the indoor season winding down, the Blue Devils looked to the ACC championships as a primer before taking to nationals and switching gears to outdoor competition.
And with some familiar faces posting standout performances for Duke, the Blue Devils have shown they have many athletes to look out for in the coming weeks.
Duke wrapped up action in Clemson, S.C., with the ACC Indoor Championship Thursday through Saturday at the Clemson Indoor Track. In a field of 15 teams, the Blue Devil women’s team tied for sixth with 48 points, and the men’s team ended up in 10th with 25 points. Although Florida State dominated the competition—with 91 points for its women’s team and 111 for the men—Duke still had some impressive individual performances from senior Maddy Price and graduate student Steven Solomon.
“We had a good day wrapping up the meet,” Duke director of track and field Norm Ogilvie told GoDuke.com. “We’re going back to Durham a happy team. It was a successful weekend. We met most of our goals and exceeded some as well.”
Starting with the multi-events on day one, the Blue Devil women put in a strong showing to start the competition.
In the pentathlon, junior Jaida Lemmons and freshman Erin Marsh both set top-10 all-time school best scores. Although both Duke athletes remained tied through the initial 60-meter hurdle and high jump, Lemmons pulled past Marsh thanks to a season-best throw of 36 feet, 11.5 inches with the shot put followed by an 18-foot, 5-inch long jump. Although the Blue Devils excelled in the initial four events, struggles in the final 800-meter run left Lemmons with fifth place in the event and Marsh at seventh.
Unfortunately for Duke, the Blue Devils struggled in the distance medley relays. The quartet of junior Gabrielle Richichi, freshman Lauren Hoffman, freshman Leigha Torino and junior Olivia Gwynn posted a season-best time of 11:41.59 but ended in 11th place. The men’s squad of sophomore Matt Wisner, freshman Miles Mingo, senior Kyle Francis and senior Jordan Burton did not fare much better, closing their competition in ninth of 13 teams.
Although the Blue Devils started day one off a bit slow, Duke upped the tempo heading into day two.
Solomon highlighted the second day, running the 400-meter preliminaries with a first-place time of 45.44 seconds—more than a full second ahead of the next finisher. The Sydney, Australia, native’s run crushed the previous Duke indoor record and the Australian national record and set the fastest time in the ACC, ranking fourth overall in the NCAA this season.
He slowed down almost a second in the finals the next day, finishing in third place in 46.16 seconds, but it was still good enough for first-team All-ACC honors.
“Steven ran an incredible race on Friday, and that takes a lot out of the body,” Ogilvie said. “We wanted to be careful with him, with nationals and the Commonwealth Games coming up.”
Freshman Kethlin Campbell joined the ranks of top-10 Blue Devils with a time of 23.71 seconds in the 200 meters—making her the second Duke runner to finish in faster than 24 seconds this season.
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In the heptathlon, freshman Jacob Sobota notched a score of 5,516 points thanks to a monster pole vault of higher than 16 feet to secure second place, and sophomore Christian Friis closed his heptathlon with a sixth-place score of 5,198. Rounding out the day’s finals was the women's pole vault, with senior Madison Heath finishing in third, while sophomore Laura Marty and freshman Rivka Arbiv took fourth and sixth, respectively.
In the final day of competition, Price shined in both of her events to close the weekend.
Price started the day with a 53.27-second run in the 400 meters, claiming second and pushing past the Duke all-time record by 0.29 seconds. The Hillsborough, Calif., native went on to anchor the 4-x-400 meter relay. Along with juniors India Lowe and MacKenzie Kerr and sophomore Brittany Aveni, the Duke quartet notched second place, behind only Clemson.
In the field, junior Domonique Panton jumped from eighth to third thanks to a 41-foot, 8.75-inch jump in her final leap of the triple jump. Junior Sydnei Murphy took eighth in the long jump and ninth in the triple jump.
“We ask our kids to compete hard and down to the wire, and that’s best exemplified in the triple jump,” Ogilvie said. “Domonique was in eighth, and we needed points to catch Miami in sixth. She went from eighth to third place with a new school record on her final jump. That’s the type of stuff that makes us really happy as coaches.”
The Blue Devils with qualifying scores will go on to close the indoor track season for the NCAA Indoor Championships in College Station, Texas, March 9 and March 10. Meanwhile, the rest of the team will begin preparing for the outdoor season, starting with a March 24 meet at Wake Forest.