AZUSA, CALIF. – The Duke track and field team saw its multi-event athletes open competition at the Bryan Clay Invitational on Wednesday, hosted by Azusa Pacific.
Duke had three competitors in the heptathlon and at the end of day one, two of the Blue Devils are in the top half of the field. Erin Marsh, competing in just her second collegiate heptathlon, is in 23rd overall with 3,154 points. Marsh’s best event of the day was the opening 100m hurdles, where the freshman from Buford, Ga., clocked a time of 14.00 to finish in fourth in her group. She followed it up with a personal-best 5-5.25 (1.66) in the high jump. Marsh closed out the day with another personal-best, racing to a time of 25.12 in the 200m.
“Erin had a great first day,” said associate head coach Shawn Wilbourn. “It was a big first day personal-best in terms of points for her. The 100m hurdles was the fastest she’s run in the heptathlon and her second fastest time ever. She had a PR in the high jump and threw the shot put just a little less than in she did in Texas. But she closed out the day with a PR in 200m and so had three out of four really good events. The growth since competing in Texas was big, not only from the marks, but mentally how she handled it. She did a great job of recovering after the shot put and setting a PR in the 200m.”
Jaida Lemmons is also in the top-half of the field, checking in with 3,056 points after day one. Lemmons opened her day with a personal-best time of 14.40 in the 100m hurdles. The DeSoto, Tex., native also set a personal-best in the shot put with a toss of 38-2.25 (11.64) in the third event of the day.
“Jaida’s still not 100% healthy so we’re focusing on technique,” Wilbourn said. “She had a heptathlon best in the hurdles to start. She didn’t do well high jump, but bounced back to PR in the shot and then ran pretty well in the 200m. Other than the high jump, Jaida had a very solid day.”
Also competing, in her first collegiate heptathlon, was Kate Kutzer. Kutzer finished the day with 2,686 points, highlighted by her time of 15.38 in the 100m hurdles.
“Kate did ok today,” added Wilbourn. “She missed her whole senior year and had surgery on a foot injury in the fall so she’s still coming back. It was a long time coming for her to compete and we’re just happy to get a starting point. Overall, she had a solid day. We’re happy that she’s competing and being able to do a multi-event competition. She’ll continue to grow as she continues to train.”
In the decathlon, Jacob Sobota has 2,883 points midway through the competition. In his second decathlon, Sobota improved on his performance at the Texas Relays in three different events. He had a long jump of 22-7.25 (6.89) and a toss of 40-6.25 (12.35) in the shot put, both of which were better than in Texas, and tied his mark of 5-8.5 (1.74) in the high jump.
“Jacob had a solid day, better than he started in Texas,” commented Wilbourn. “He ran a good 100m hurdles, and then long jumped and threw the shot put better. The high jump he struggled, jumping the same as in Texas and was a little slower in the 400m, but it was a little windier here on the backstretch. It was a good first day and now the learning process takes hold as we try to come back and do better on the second day and that’s what we’re looking for.”
The heptathlon competitors will have three more events to close out competition on Friday. The long jump will lead off, followed by the javelin and the 800m run. The decathletes will close out the second half of the competition, starting with the 110m hurdles. Next will be the discus throw, the pole vault, the javelin throw and then the 1,500m run will end the day.
“We’re getting some good stuff out of this,” added Wilbourn. “It’s all preparation for the ACC championships, which is the main goal. With a young group like this, as Erin and Jacob are true freshmen, gaining this experience will really benefit once we hit ACC’s.”