For more than 120 years, the track and field world has descended on Philadelphia for the final weekend of April, celebrating and competing at one of the world's premier meets.
And after years of trying, Duke is finally bringing a coveted plaque back to Durham.
With a 51.49-second anchor leg from senior Madeline Price, the Blue Devils topped ACC foe Clemson to finish first in the women's 4x400-meter Championship of America relay Thursday, highlighting the weekend at Franklin Field on the University of Pennsylvania's campus. The Duke men also made history, easily breaking a program record in the sprint medley relay with a time of 3:16.52 that topped the former mark by more than six seconds.
For the Blue Devil women, the race began with India Lowe setting the tone with a 54.4-second split that put Duke behind just the Tigers and Jamaica's University of Technology. Junior MacKenzie Kerr and sophomore Brittany Aveni then kept the Blue Devils right in the thick of things, setting the stage for Price's finish.
The Hillsborough, Calif., native pulled ahead of UTech but still trailed Clemson's Fellan Ferguson as the two turned for home. Yet Price would not relent, leaning on her kick to propel Duke to its first-ever relay women's sprint victory at the Penn Relays.
The team's 3:32.43 mark fell just 0.16 seconds short of the all-time program record, set in 2015, but the time positions the Blue Devils well for a return trip to the NCAA championships come June—last year's team, which included Kerr, Lowe and Price, wound up 16th in the country.
The same women's foursome also finished fourth in the sprint medley relay, posting a time of 3:48.85, behind Clemson, Connecticut and Penn State. The next best finish for the women, however, was Cassie Martin's 18th-place finish in the high jump.
For the men, the sprint medley relay performance was the obvious highlight. Graduate student Steven Solomon starred in the 400-meter leg and Matt Wisner closed strong in the final 800 meters. Duke director of track and field Norm Ogilvie told GoDuke.com Friday that both "have a very good chance of making the NCAA championships."
The Blue Devils also got a 12th-place performance from junior Rivers Ridout in the high jump and ninth place for sophomore Michael Marsack in the javelin.
Next up is a break for final exams before Duke turns its attention to the ACC outdoor championships in two weeks at Miami. The Blue Devil women will look to finish among the top three after falling short last season, whereas the men will be hoping to move into the upper half of the conference.
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