Two days, two new program records for the Blue Devils.
With the postseason fast approaching, Duke put together an impressive performance comprised of a wide array of individual achievements in Charlottesville, Va., for the Virginia Challenge. Graduate students CJ Ambrosio and Miles Mingo broke longstanding program records in their respective events to highlight an overall successful weekend on the road, one which the Blue Devils used to learn and prepare for the looming ACC Outdoor Championships.
“We were using the meet to decide what events kids were going to do at [the ACC Outdoor Championships], so it was really a tune-up for ACCs,” director of track & field and cross country Shawn Wilbourn said. “We were able to get some data on some kids, and it’s going to help us make some decisions as we pursue another championship at ACCs at home.”
Plenty of Blue Devils turned in high-level performances across Friday and Saturday, but Ambrosio and Mingos' duo of accomplishments stand out above the rest. It was Ambrosio’s turn to make history first, finishing the men’s 5000m invite in 13:43.17 Friday to break the 14-minute mark—his first time doing so—and topple Robbie Perkins' program record, set 47 years ago. In a deep racing field, Ambrosio’s record run earned him 17th place.
“He was able to run with those guys, and it propelled him to the record,” Wilbourn said. “I think not only for CJ, but for the distance program as a whole, that’s a big deal, because it shows that they’re all progressing.”
In Saturday’s action, Mingo followed up Ambrosio with a bit of history himself, surpassing the program’s 200m record with a fourth-place, 20.77-second dash. Record-breaking outings are never expected, but Wilbourn noted that Mingo had been, “flirting with that record for the past couple of weeks.”
This time, he left no doubt, leaving Randy Jones’ 1989 mark in the dust.
“He’s just been getting better and better each week outdoors,” Wilbourn said of Mingo. “I think mentally he’s in a good place, he’s a fifth-year senior and he has some confidence right now, and that’s great to see as we approach the championship season.”
Meanwhile, Ambrosio wasn’t the only distance runner to excel Friday, with graduate student Michaela Reinhart also setting a personal best by running 15:53.08 in the women’s 5000m invite.
“She’s just a superstar, and she’s another one of those athletes that has some range,” Wilbourn said. “So we’re going to be able to put her in a couple different events. She could run anywhere from the 1500 all the way up to the 10k.”
In addition to Ambrosio and Mingo’s pair of record-breaking outings and Reinhart's achievement, the Blue Devils showed out in a wide variety of other events, including the women’s relays Saturday, in which the 4x100m team placed first and the 4x400m team took second. One week after the women’s 4x400m relay team of Carly King, Kelcie Simmons, Jenna Crean and Megan McGinnis clinched a one-point team win at the Meet of Champions in High Point, N.C., it fell to Penn by only a fraction of a second while the women’s 4x100 relay team—led by King, Simmons, Halle Bieber and Abby Geiser—topped Hampton for first place.
Elsewhere, Duke placed well in the javelin with a pair of top-five finishes from senior Dana Baker and sophomore Scott Campbell, took home second place in the high jump elite thanks to junior Beau Allen and secured a second-place finish from graduate student Nick Dahl in the 1500m elite. Junior Davis Howell also placed third in the open section of the high jump.
Beyond these performances, at this meet Duke aimed to examine its last-chance questions before the postseason finally arrives in two weeks’ time. The Blue Devils didn’t hesitate to try new things in hopes of figuring out what works best for them ahead of the ACC Outdoor Championships. That even extended to decorated graduate student Erin Marsh, who competed in the 400m hurdles for the first time and took second place, in addition to a second-place finish in the 100m hurdles and a fourth-place finish in the long jump.
“For somebody like Erin Marsh, for example, she can score and bring points in in a lot of a different events,” Wilbourn said. “So we ran her in the [400m] hurdles for the first time in her college career to see where she would stack up, and that will help us as we’re making decisions on what events to enter our kids at and to see where we’re going to be able to get the most points.”
Ahead of the ACC Outdoor Championships in Durham, the Blue Devils return to Charlottesville May 1 for the Virginia Invitational.
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Jonathan Levitan is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.