TAMPA, FLA. – The Duke track and field team advanced three Blue Devils to the quarterfinals on the first day of the NCAA East Preliminary meet at the University of South Florida Track and Field Stadium on Thursday.
The first Blue Devil to qualify for Friday’s quarterfinals was Steven Solomon in the 400m. The graduate student from Sydney, Australia kept his season going by grabbing the second spot in his heat, assuring his progression. Solomon earned the spot with a time of 45.53, just .03 seconds off his season-best time and the sixth fastest time in the first round heats.
“Solomon looked great,” said director of track and field Norm Ogilvie. “Only three hundredths off the school record. He eased up at the end, he could have won his heat but decided to save a little for tomorrow.”
Joining Solomon in moving on in the 400m was Maddy Price. Price grabbed the third and final qualifying spot in her heat by crossing the finish line in 52.78. Price was the 19th overall finisher and still has a chance to reach the NCAA Championship in three different events, as she will also race in the 4x100m relay and the 4x400m relay on Saturday.
“As always, Maddy was under control and able to qualify,” Ogilvie said.
In the 800m, Matt Wisner had to sweat it out for the final three heats, but by the time all 48 runners had finished, the Carlisle, Pa., product had earned a spot in Friday’s quarterfinals. Wisner clocked a time of 1:49.49 to finish fourth in his heat. Like he had at the ACC Championships, Wisner used a late kick to advance, clocking a second quarter-mile time of 54.68.
“Matt got the job done,” added Ogilvie. “As usual, he had a kick down the stretch to get in. He has a shot to make the NCAA’s as a sophomore, which is very exciting.”
Although they did not advance to the quarterfinals in the 400m hurdles and 800m respectively, India Lowe and Brittany Aveni both finished up strong individual seasons and will now transition to relay competition. Lowe finishes her junior season with the third fastest 400m hurdle time in school history (58.77) and will represent Duke in the 4x100m relay and the 4x800m relay. Aveni has the top-five Duke times in the 800m this season and will also be racing in the 4x800m relay.
Finishing her season was Amanda Beach. In her rookie campaign, Beach qualified for the East Preliminary in the 10,000m and she crossed the finish line in 36:06.25 to close her season. She has the top three times by a Blue Devil in the 10,000m this season as well as the fastest Duke time in the 5,000m.
Duke will have eight competitors in action on Friday. Seven Blue Devils will have a chance to earn a trip to Eugene, along with Kethlin Campbell looking to lock up a spot in the 200m quarterfinals. Competition will begin with the women’s pole vault at 9:30 a.m.
“Overall it was a good start,” finished Ogilvie. “They changed the times to beat some nasty thunderstorms and it was a good call by meet management to get all the races in. Not going to be that lucky the rest of the weekend and it could get interesting. The guys that qualified, ran in hot, humid conditions today. Their times were very good considering how hot it was.”
Blue Devils in Competition on Friday
Women’s Pole Vault First Round: Madison Heath, Laura Marty, Nati Sheppard
Men’s 400m Quarterfinal: Steven Solomon
Women’s 400m Quarterfinal: Maddy Price
Men’s 800m Quarterfinal: Matt Wisner
Women’s 200m First Round: Kethlin Campbell
Men’s 3,000m Steeplechase Quarterfinal: Alec Kunzweiler