AUSTIN, TEXAS – On the first day of the 91st Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays, the Duke track and field team had three multi-events athletes make their outdoor season debuts.
Jaida Lemmons was the only Blue Devil with collegiate experience in the outdoor heptathlon. The Desoto, Texas native started the competition with a time of 14.48 in the 100m hurdles, which was only .06 seconds off her personal-best. She followed with a ninth place finish in the high jump, clearing 5-4.25 (1.63). In the shot put, Lemmons set a personal-best by reaching 36-11.75 (11.27). Lemmons finished out the first day with a time of 25.69 in the 200m dash. Overall, Lemmons heads into day two with a score of 3,120 points and sits in 13th out of 25 competitors.
“Jaida had a slight injury from the ACC Indoor Championships and so she missed some early outdoor season training and we just wanted to get her back to competing,” said associate head coach Shawn Wilbourn. “She’s doing really well, with her second-best ever time in the hurdles and tying her best in the high jump. Then she did have a PR in the shot so those first three events were really solid. Her lack of early season conditioning showed in the 200, but I’m very happy with where she is. She’s healthy and today was a great starting point for her.”
Also competing in the heptathlon was Erin Marsh. Marsh had an outstanding start to the competition, finishing in fifth in the 100m hurdles with a time of 14.02, putting her fourth all-time in school history. The freshman from Buford, Ga., cleared 5-3 (1.60) in the high jump and followed it with a throw of 32-1 (9.78) in the shot put. She closed out the day by clocking a time of 25.28 to finish tenth overall. Marsh has 3,088 points after four events and is one place behind Lemmons in 14th.
"For Erin’s first collegiate heptathlon in such a big setting, she’s done really well,” Wilbourn said. “She had a PR in the hurdles and it was one of the top times in school history. She tied her PR in the high jump, set a new PR in the 200m and was solid in the shot put. Overall it’s a first day PR for her. I’m happy with where she’s at and how she’s progressing.”
In the men’s decathlon, Jacob Sobota made his collegiate debut. Sobota started the day strong, sprinting to a time of 10.78 in the 100m dash, good for fourth place. He cleared 22-3.5 (6.79) in the long jump and had a throw of 38-4.25 (11.69) in the shot put. After the high jump, the Knoxville, Tenn., product finished the day strong with a time of 49.78 in the 400m. Sobota has collected 3,664 halfway through the competition.
“Jacob came in and he’s one of only 2 freshmen in the whole competition, with quite a few guys at the NCAA level and are All-Americans,” said Wilbourn. “He seemed a bit nervous starting off, but he did really well in the events he’s comfortable in like the sprints. In some of the technical things, he overthought it, but that’s expected. Jacob’s doing well and I expect him to get over the nervousness and do well on the second day.”
All three multi-event athletes will have a second day of competition. The women’s heptathlon still has the long jump, javelin throw and 800m run. The decathlon has the 110m hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw and 1,500m run remaining. The decathlon will kick off at 11:00 a.m. while the heptathlon is scheduled to start at 11:45 a.m.
“Going into the second day, Jaida has a really strong day two and I expect her to move up and have a decent score,” Wilbourn added. “I’m anticipating her to be fairly close to her PR which is a great sign this early in the season. For both the freshmen, being in this level of comp and getting the experience and learning how to handle the mental part of the multi-event is very important.”
Joining Lemmons, Marsh and Sobota in competition tomorrow will be Stefani Vukajlovic in the women’s hammer throw, Michael Marsack and Nicholas Solfanelli in the javelin throw, Lauren Hoffman in the 400m hurdles and Brittany Aveni in the 800m.