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Duke track and field stalls in ACC outdoor championships despite historic individual performances

Duke women's track and field team placed eighth in the ACC outdoor championships.
Duke women's track and field team placed eighth in the ACC outdoor championships.

After placing fifth and ninth, respectively, at the ACC indoor championships, Duke's women’s and men’s teams looked to improve these marks at the ACC outdoor championships after a strong outdoor season that included a sweep of rival North Carolina at the annual Battle of the Blues. 

But the competition was just too stiff this year, with both Blue Devil squads falling from their indoor finishes. The women placed eighth with 51 points and the men finished in a tie for 10th with 38 points at the University of Virginia’s Lannigan Field from Thursday to Saturday. Despite this, Duke saw several historical marks and 15 All-ACC awards, including six first team All-ACC awards.

On the men’s side of things, junior Kiegan Lenihan was the first Blue Devil to garner a medal as he placed second in javelin. On his second throw he registered a distance of 232 feet, 10 inches, a new personal-best, and earned the men eight points. Despite the personal-best, it was a slight disappointment for Lenihan, who placed first in last year’s ACC outdoors. 

On the first day, there were no medals for the women, but two athletes earned All-ACC second team honors in their events. Freshman Monica Hebner crossed the finish line in seventh in the 10000m, good for two points, and senior Stefani Vukajlovic’s hammer throw of 62.95 meters put her at eighth, matching her finish from last year’s ACC Outdoors.

On Friday, sophomore Erin Marsh made program history in the heptathlon, earning first team All-ACC honors and a silver medal. In six of the seven events, Marsh set a personal-best and earned 5,806 points, which puts her at fourth in the country. Her point total makes her Duke’s heptathlon school-record holder, moving past Teddi Maslowski’s 2015 record of 5,706. 

Besides Marsh, two other Blue Devils medaled on the day, both of them earning bronze. Sophomore Alex Miley clocked in a time of 8:51.71 in the 3000m steeplechase and senior Nati Sheppard cleared a height of 4.12 meters in the pole vault.

Several other athletes earned second team All-ACC accolades on Friday. Sophomore Kate Kutzer competed alongside Marsh in the heptathlon and posted a personal-best 5,106 points to place fifth. Senior Iyin Battle took sixth in the conference in the hammer throw with a mark of 56.95 meters. Senior Rivers Ridout placed fifth in the high jump with a clearance of 2.11 meters. Freshman Cole Rowan and junior Esteban Suarez both placed in the high jump, with Rowan one place off the podium in fourth with a height of 4.87 meters and Suarez in sixth with a height of 4.77 meters. 

The last day of competition was highlighted by junior Matt Wisner’s silver medal performance in the finals of the 800 meters and sophomore Lauren Hoffman’s bronze medal in the 400 meters hurdles. After qualifying for finals on Friday with a time of 1:52.34, Wisner bettered it in the finals, clocking in at 1:50.34. His second place finish was his first individual conference honor outdoors. Hoffman qualified for finals with a personal-best time of 58.50 and then followed it up another personal-best of 58.33 in the finals, the second-best time in Duke history. Hoffman also helped lead the women’s 4x400 meter relay to a fourth-place performance with a time of 3:39.75.

Senior speedster India Lowe rounded out her last ACC competition with a fifth-place finish in the finals of the 400-meter in a time of 53.78, the third-fastest time in Duke history. Senior Kim Hallowes also placed fifth in the 1500-meter, clocking in at 4:21.22. Junior Brittany Aveni placed sixth in the 800 meters with a time of 2:08.68. Aveni also helped lead the 4x100 meter relay team to a 7th place finish in a time of 45.29. 

In the field events, junior Cassie Martin tied for fourth in the high jump with a clearance of 1.70 meters and senior Domonique Panton placed seventh overall with a mark of 12.74 meters in the triple jump. 

The Blue Devils will take a week off before heading to the NCAA outdoor east regionals May 23-25 in Jacksonville, Florida. 


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