COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS – Competing in her fifth NCAA meet, senior Madison Heath broke through to score for the first time in her career, as she represented the Duke track and field team at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field championships at Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium on the campus of Texas A&M.
Competing in her second indoor championships, Heath looked like she might have an early exit when she failed to clear 13-9.75 (4.21) on her first two attempts. The Mandeville, La., native came through in the clutch though, clearing it on her third attempt to move on. She followed it up by vaulting over 14-1.75 (4.31) on her second attempt at that height. That tied her personal-best and leaves her second all-time at Duke.
“I just tried to get her to calm down and get on her a little bit get her to refocus,” said associate head coach Shawn Wilbourn. “I told her you just have to do what you’ve been doing in practice. She didn’t have to try harder and to just stop thinking and simplify it. Just run down the runway and swing. We made some slight adjustments. But she had a great clearance at the first height and then had another great clearance at 4.31m. She just had to stay calm and execute the skills we’ve been working on.”
With her mark of 14-1.75 (4.31), Heath finishes in eighth place, earning first team All-American honors as well as scoring Duke’s lone point of the meet. It is the first time Heath earns a spot on the first team after earning second team All-American honors at the 2017 indoor championships and the 2017 and 2016 outdoor championships, as well as honorable mention All-American status at the 2015 outdoor championships.
“It was a big breakthrough for Madison,” added Wilbourn. “It’s her senior year and to come to the NCAA meet and get that first-team All-America performance, I was very proud of her. She stayed calm and executed.”
Also competing was the women’s 4x400m relay team. The quartet of Maddy Price, India Lowe, MacKenzie Kerr, and Brittany Aveni closed out the indoor season with a time of 3:35.51, the second-best time of the season. The Blue Devils finished in third in their heat and 14th overall. Their time of 3:33.64 at the ACC Championships is the second fastest time in Duke history.
“They came in here, getting in the final four teams and competing in that first heat,” Wilbourn said. “It wasn’t smooth, but they were excited to get here and maybe let the emotions get to them. They didn’t run as well as hoped and are a little disappointed, but to be in the top 14 teams in the country is pretty darn good. It’ll re-motivate them. They know now that they belong with this elite group and we’re excited to get working on outdoors.”
Duke will now turn its attention to the outdoor season. The Blue Devils will open the campaign on March 24 with a meet against Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, N.C.