DURHAM, N.C. -- With the start of the 2014 Duke track and field season set for Jan. 17 at the Virginia Tech Invitational, GoDuke.com met with each coach to discuss the upcoming season. Today’s preview focuses on the Duke men’s distance runners, headed by Norm Ogilvie.
The Blue Devils return a stellar group of middle-distance runners, including sophomore Tommy Meister and junior Kyle Moran, who rank second and third, respectively, on Duke’s all-time indoor 800-meter list. Meister, Duke’s top performer in the indoor 800m last season, recorded a personal-best time of 1:51.72 at the ACC Indoor Championship last season, while Moran ran a near identical personal-best time of 1:51.74 at the same event.
Sophomore Michal Filipczak and junior Nate McClafferty saw similar success for the Blue Devils in 2013. Filipczak broke the 1:50 barrier during the outdoor campaign, crossing the line at the Duke Invitational in a time of 1:49.74, which not only set a personal-record, but also ranked him fifth on Duke’s all-time list. The Niles, Ill., native followed the performance with a fifth-place showing at the ACC Championship, where he once again dipped under 1:50, clocking a time of 1:49.95. Although McClafferty did not focus on the open 800 during the indoor season, the Wernersville, Pa., native combined with Meister, Moran and Filipczak to run the fastest indoor 4x800m relay in school history, clocking a time of 7:26.88 and placing the team second at the highly prestigious Millrose Games.
With the addition of multi-event athlete Curtis Beach, who owns the third-fastest outdoor 800m time in Duke history, the Duke 4x800 of Meister, Moran and Filipczak broke the outdoor 4x800m relay school mark, recording a time of 7:20.97 and placing the team fourth at the Penn Relays.
“We’re very excited about our middle-distance prospects,” Ogilvie said. “Last year we finished number four in the country in the 4x800 relay. We have all four of those guys returning, plus we have two outstanding freshmen in Alec Kunzweiler of Pennsylvania and Dylan Murphy of New York. Both of these guys could be running sub-1:50 in the near future. In theory, the 4x800 will only get better, so we’re really excited about that. Indoors, the 4x800 is the feature event at the Millrose games, which is one of the high-profile meets of the year, and will air on NBC television on Feb. 15.”
The addition of Kunzweiler and Murphy bolsters the depth of Duke’s middle-distance contingent as Kunzweiler joins Duke with a personal-best time of 1:51.68 and Murphy, who boasts personal-record marks of 1:52.32 in the open 800 and an FAT-recorded 4x800 split of 1:49.5.
“We’re excited about running the 4x800, but the more important event is the distance medley relay (DMR), which virtually everyone on the 4x800 can run,” Ogilvie said. “That’s an NCAA event. Duke has come close a few times to qualifying for NCAAs in the distance medley relay. That’s a goal for the squad, to see if we can make nationals in the DMR. It’s extremely competitive. They only take 12 teams in the whole country. The key contest there will be Feb. 22 at Notre Dame.”
The Blue Devils’ DMR placed third at the ACC Indoor Championship last season, with a team that included recently-graduated James Kostelnik, sprinter Ben Raskin, Meister and McClafferty. Two weeks later, the foursome of McClafferty, Filipczak, Meister and Kostelnik recorded the third fastest DMR time in Duke history after finishing in a time of 9:41.40.
Filipczak’s leg-speed, evidenced by his contribution on the school-record setting 4x400m relay, lends itself to an attempt at the school record in the 500m. Filipczak currently sits second on Duke’s all-time list at the 500m distance after recording a time of 1:03.81 at the Armory Collegiate. Ogilvie intends to insert Murphy into the 500m lineup during the indoor season, as well.
1,500 meters/1,600 meters/mile:
In addition to competing at the 800m distance, Ogilvie views Kunzweiler as a potential miler for the Blue Devils during his freshman campaign.
“Kunzweiler has shown strength and endurance,” Ogilvie said. “Earlier this fall he ran an unattached 5 kilometer race and went 14:54 on the N.C. State course, which shows he probably has the strength he needs, combined with his 800 time, to be a serious threat for the four-minute mile.”
Fellow freshman Stephen Shine begins his track career as a Blue Devil following a successful cross country season. Shine, who competed in six competitions this fall, earned two individual victories, as well as recorded a personal-best 5k time of 15:10 in his last meet of the season. The mile will garner a majority of Shine’s attention during the 2014 season.
“Stephen Shine, who’s just a freshman, and who comes off very little training in high school, ran a 4:11 mile [in high school],” Ogilvie said. “With the type of background he got from cross country as a freshman, he certainly could be a guy that could run in the 4:05 range.”
McClafferty, although a contributor on Duke’s record-setting 4x800m relay, doubles as a miler for the Blue Devils. After qualifying for the 2013 conference championship, McClafferty ran a 1,500m personal-best time of 3:46.06 to place sixth overall.
Junior Brian Schoepfer enters the 2014 season with two years of collegiate experience, including an appearance at the ACC Indoor Championship. Schoepfer looks to improve on his personal-best marks of 3:48.54 at 1,500m and 4:12.03 at the mile, as well as contribute at the ACC Conference Championship this season.
Junior Shaun Thompson highlights the steeplechase for the Duke track and field team, returning as the top-performer in the event last season. Thompson broke nine minutes for the steeplechase in 2013, setting a personal-best time of 8:58.04. The effort earned Thompson a spot on Duke’s all-time list, ranking him third. The Baldwinsville, N.Y., native became just the fourth Blue Devil to go under nine minutes, which he did twice last season, with the second sub-nine performance coming at the NCAA East First Round meet. During the indoor season, Thompson will appear in the 3,000 and 5,000, in preparation for the outdoor campaign.
“Shaun’s coming off his best cross country season ever, highlighted by his fourth-place finish in ACC cross country,” Ogilvie said. “He should be a threat to make the NCAA meet in the steeple, outdoors.”
Moverman, Duke’s record-holder at the indoor 5,000m, neared the 14-minute barrier in both indoor and outdoor last season, missing the mark by less than three seconds. Moverman returns as one of Duke’s top-performers in both the 5,000m and 10,000m distances after placing third in both the indoor 5,000 and outdoor 10,000 at the conference meet.
Atkinson is coming off one of his strongest track seasons after setting personal-best marks of 14:10.73 for the indoor 5,000, 14:12.64 for the outdoor 5,000 and 29:56.70 for the 10,000. Atkinson’s indoor 5,000 mark ranks him fourth on Duke’s all-time list.