Duke track and field crowns two new All-Americans at NCAA Indoor Championships

Amina Maatoug was one of three Blue Devils who competed in the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Amina Maatoug was one of three Blue Devils who competed in the NCAA Indoor Championships.

This weekend, Duke sent three women up to The Track at New Balance in Boston to compete in the NCAA Indoor Championships. Two brand-new All-Americans — senior Brianna Smith and graduate student MaKayla Mason — returned. The two days of intense competition saw 17 events contested, with Texas Tech and Arkansas claiming the men’s and women’s team titles, respectively.

While both Smith and Mason delivered solid performances on the biggest stage, their sights were set even higher. 

“They didn't perform how they wanted, but it was a learning experience,” head coach Shawn Wilbourn said after the meet.

In her first national meet, Smith capped off a standout season with a 15th-place finish in the pentathlon, good for USTFCCCA All-America Second Team honors. One year ago, she narrowly missed out on qualifying for the meet by one spot. On Friday, however, Smith was at home on the national stage, fresh from a bronze medal at the ACC Indoor Championships and an appearance at the U.S. Indoor Championships. Per usual, the Pennsylvania native’s top performance of the meet was a fourth-place 1.75m (5-8.75 feet) high jump, contributing 916 points to her total pentathlon score of 3,923.

Also in her NCAA debut, Mason threw her way to 15.72m (51-7 feet), placing 15th and garnering All-America Second Team honors. With her finish, Mason became the first Duke All-American in the women’s shot put since Michelle Anumba in 2012. Still, it wasn’t as good a performance as Mason wanted, given her stellar season that saw her annihilate a 12-year-old school record

“You'll work so hard to get [to the National Championships]. And then the first time you do, it takes a lot out of you,” Wilbourn said.

In the women’s 3000m final, the circumstances were unfortunate for Duke’s school record holder and No. 4-seed seed Amina Maatoug, who ended her race early after getting tangled up with another runner. At last year’s NCAA Indoors, the junior middle-distance talent captured All-America honors in both the mile and the 3000m. 

“I'm just proud of all three of the girls for qualifying for this meet,” Wilbourn said. “They're one of the 16 best females in their events in this sport.”

Regardless, the meet was an exhilarating one for track and field fans all over the country — multiple meet records were broken. Twenty-two seconds ahead of the rest of the field in the 5000m, Florida’s Parker Valby delivered the highlight performance of the weekend, running 14:52.79 to better her own collegiate record. She repeated the next day with a commanding win in the 3000m, joining Northern Arizona junior Nico Young, who won the men’s 5k/3k double. And although women’s champion Arkansas showcased its dominance in many events, the Razorback women’s 1-2-3 finish in the open 400m was simply unreal.

Soon, Maatoug and Smith will be back on the outdoor oval, looking to add to their growing lists of accolades. This time, they’ll be joined by a fellow individual national qualifier, junior 400m specialist Megan McGinnis, whose season-long injury hiatus was just that — a hiatus. With one season of NCAA eligibility remaining, Mason will aim to make it count, joining the rest of her record-breaking throws squad in the wave of momentum they built in the winter. Wilbourn, for one, is excited to see what spring will bring.

I think you're gonna see some really good performances from our men, with our javelin throwers coming into the fray,” Wilbourn said. “On our women's team, the goal is to win the ACC conference.”

The Blue Devils will make their 2024 outdoor debut at the Miami Collegiate Invitational in Miami March 22.


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