DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke track and field program begins the 2018 indoor campaign Saturday Jan. 12, traveling down the road to Chapel Hill, N.C., to compete in the Dick Taylor Carolina Cup. Hosted by the University of North Carolina at the Eddie Smith Field House, the Blue Devils will face off against East Carolina and North Carolina State, along with the Tar Heels.
The men and women both finished in second place in the 2018 edition, with North Carolina men and women earning the top spot.
Freshman Cole Rowan and junior Esteban Suarez will kick off the competition for the Blue Devils in the pole vault on the men’s side, with Suarez looking to continue his success in Chapel Hill after capturing first place at the Carolina Cup a season ago. Suarez earned All-ACC second team honors at the both the ACC Indoor Championship and ACC Outdoor Championship with a fifth-place finish indoors and sixth-place finish outdoors.
The foursome of sophomore Rivka Arbiv, junior Laura Marty, senior Nati Sheppard and junior Chesney Ward will represent the women in the pole vault. Arbiv and Marty each earned All-ACC second team honors in 2018 at the ACC Indoor Championship, with both clearing 13-11.25, which ranks third all-time at Duke for indoors. Marty notched a second-place finish in last year’s Carolina Cup, finishing only behind former Blue Devil Madison Heath, while Sheppard earned a fourth-place finish.
Senior Stefani Vukajlovic is set to compete in the women’s weight throw competition, followed by senior Iyin Battle and junior Ben Beatty in the men’s event. Vukajlovic owns the second-furthest throw in school history, after posting a mark of 59-2.75 at the 2018 ACC Indoor Championship. She looks to improve upon her fifth-place finish in at the 2018 Carolina Cup. Battle also ranks second all-time at Duke in the weight throw with a mark of 57-0.75, which he posted at the UCS Invite last season, while Beatty looks to continue his success in Chapel Hill, after finishing second in the weight throw in last year’s competition.
Junior Christian Friis and sophomore Jacob Sobota will cover the long jump and the triple jump for the men, while the freshmen duo of Nikki Merrit and Kelcie Simmons will make their collegiate debuts for the Blue Devils in the long jump on the women’s side. Senior Domonique Panton and freshman Natalie Simmons will compete in the triple jump, with Panton looking to improve on a second-place finish in Chapel Hill a season ago. Panton owns the Duke all-time record in the triple jump, which she set at the 2018 ACC Indoor Championships with a record-breaking mark of 41-8.75 to take home the bronze medal and earn First Team All-ACC honors.
Nine student-athletes will compete in the high jump, with the trio of sophomore Bryant Lewis, senior Rivers Ridout and sophomore Benjamin Ross representing the men. Ridout owns the second-best mark in Duke history for the high jump indoors with a mark of 7-0.25, which came at the 2018 Air Force Invite. The Searcy, Ark., native earned a first-place finish at last year’s Carolina Cup, while Ross and Lewis finished sixth and seventh, respectively.
On the women’s side, Arbiv, junior Tracy Jander, sophomore Kate Kutzer, senior Jaida Lemmons, sophomore Erin Marsh and junior Cassie Martin are set to compete in the high jump. The Blues Devils recorded four of the top eight finishes last season in Chapel Hill, as Martin and Lemmons each earned top five finishes, finishing third and fifth respectively. Jander and Marsh both tied for seventh-place.
Rounding out the field events will be the shot put, with a trio of Blue Devils competing on both the women’s and men’s side. Kutzer, Lemmons and Marsh will compete for the women, while Beatty, Friis and Sobota will cover the men’s side to close out the field competition. Beatty finished second in the shot put at the Carolina Cup a year ago.
Running events will begin with the distance medley relay. The foursome of transfer Charles Cooper, junior Sean Rafique, freshman Joe Cullen and senior Nikhil Pulimood will compete for the men, while senior Olivia Gywnn, Kelcie Simmons, freshman Ellen Hirsberg and sophomore Michaela Reinhart will compete for the women.
Seven Blue Devils will enter the preliminary heats for the 60m hurdles, with Friis and Sobota competing for the men. Friis and Sobota each look to improve on their performances from last year’s competition, where they finished third and fourth, respectively. Sophomore Laura Hoffman, Kitzer, Lemmons, Marsh and Merritt will represent the women.
Sophomore Miles Mingo will be the men’s lone competitor in the 60m dash, while the foursome of India Lowe, Panton, Kelcie Simmons and Natalie Simmons will compete for the women. Panton was one of three Blue Devils to advance to the finals in last year’s competition, recording an eighth-place finish.
Freshman Michael McCullom will make his collegiate debut in the men’s 400m alongside Rafique who will also represent the Duke men, while the trio of junior Brittany Aveni, freshman Virginia Capehart and sophomore Simi Gbadegesin will compete in the women’s event. Aveni looks to continue her success after earning a first-place finish in last year’s competition, while Gbadegesin looks to improve upon her fourth-place finish from a season ago.
Competition will continue with the mile, where junior Matt Wisner, freshman Carter Dillon and sophomore Alex Miley will compete for the men, with junior Sarah Armstrong and freshman Elizabeth Reneau participating for the women. Alex Miley was the Duke’s second highest finisher in last year’s competition with a third-place finishing, finishing only behind former Blue Devil Jordan Burton who finished second.
Five Blue Devils will take part in the 800m, including Cooper, sophomore Nick Cox, freshmen Nico Coleman and Devin Connell representing the men, while junior Veronica Brtek will the lone competitor on the women’s side in the event.
Senior MacKenzie Kerr and Lowe will compete in the women’s 200m, after both earning top-five finishes in last year’s event. Lowe earned a third-place finish last season, while Kerr finished two spots behind in fifth place.
In the final individual races, sophomores CJ Ambrosio, Paul Dellinger and Josh Romine, and junior Cole Hoff will toe the line for the men in 3,000m, while the sophomore duo of Leigha Torino and Helen Williams will race for the women. Hoff and Dellinger look to improve upon from last year’s performances, where they finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
Closing out the meet will be the second relay competition of the day, the Blue Devils will field both a men’s and women’s 4x400 team. The men’s squad will consist of the foursome of Mingo, Coleman, Cox and Wisner, while the women will compete with the quartet of Hoffman, Merritt, Gbadegesin and Capehart.
For team scoring in the individual competitions, five points will be awarded to first place, three points for second place, two points for third place and one point for fourth place. In the relay competitions, five points will be awarded for first place, three points for second place, two points for third place and no points for fourth place.
Live results for the meet can be found here and a full schedule of events is attached.