DURHAM, N.C. -- With the start of the 2014 Duke track and field season set for Jan. 17 at the Virginia Tech Invitational, GoDuke.com met with each coach to discuss the upcoming season. Today’s preview focuses on the Duke women’s distance runners, headed by Kevin Jermyn.
The Duke women’s distance program returns an experienced group of harriers for the 2014 track and field campaign while also welcoming freshmen that possess the potential to create an immediate impact for Duke.
With the graduation of 800-meter standout Cydney Ross, sophomore Anima Banks returns to the track as Duke’s top performer at 800m. Banks saw an increased role on the cross country team this fall, appearing in five competitions for the Blue Devils, nearly doubling her participation from a year ago.
“She did a lot more aerobic work,” Jermyn said. “Cross country was the first thing that was really hard and she didn’t have easy success, so I think it’s pushed her and challenged her. I’m hoping that’ll be the thing that pushes her from being a national qualifier to a higher-level All-American potential athlete. Her work ethic and commitment were high. She made a bigger jump this fall in improvement than probably the results would say, just based on her being a little outside of her comfort zone or her strength area. If we were racing on the track this fall, she was definitely in personal-record shape for 1,500 and 3,000.”
In her freshman campaign, Banks saw significant success at the 800m distance, qualifying for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships and placing 12th in a time of 2:07.84 and garnering NCAA All-America Honorable Mention honors. In addition to qualifying for the national championship, the Mamaroneck, N.Y., native also earned All-ACC honors after finishing third and clocking a 2:07.44 at the ACC Outdoor Track and Field Championship. Banks gained experience at the national level during the indoor track season as well, competing as the 1,500m leg of the ninth-place finishing DMR and receiving second-team All-America accolades in the process. Banks ran the fourth-fastest indoor 800 and fifth-fastest 800 in Duke history.
“This is the first year we moved her up,” Jermyn said. “It went pretty well. We’re most likely looking to see her be more focused at one mile or 1,500m as opposed to 800m.”
In addition to Banks, junior Abby Farley also returns as a key competitor at the 800m distance. An NCAA First Round qualifier at the distance, Farley enters her junior season with a personal-record time of 2:07.7. Farley will focus primarily on the 800m throughout the 2014 season.
1,500 meters/1,600 meters/mile:
With Banks potentially moving up in distance and a versatile group of runners including junior Carloyn Baskir, freshmen Wesley Frazier, Hannah Meier and Haley Meier and graduate student Audrey Huth, Duke’s 1,500m contingent may be the deepest of the Duke women’s distance program.
“Our biggest volume seems to be, right now, at one mile,” Jermyn said. “Some of those athletes will come down to 800m, and some of them will go up to 3,000m as their secondary event. That’s probably where you’ll see the greatest depth, in any one-event area, at this point in time. Our miler group is probably our most diverse group, where they’re truly anaerobic and aerobic.”
Baskir established herself as one of Duke’s top milers entering 2014 after setting a personal-record time of 4:46.5 for the indoor mile, less than two seconds off the fifth-fastest indoor mile in school history. Baskir closed her indoor season with a fourth-place showing at the ACC Indoor Championship, finishing the mile in a time of 4:48.95.
Haley and Hannah Meier become members of Duke’s track and field program following illustrious high school careers. Haley and Hannah recorded personal-record times of 4:42.43 and 4:39.23, respectively for 1,600m outdoors during their high school careers, times that would rank the pair among Duke’s top-five fastest all-time at the event.
With former steeplechaser Esther Vermeer graduating, Jermyn looks to bolster Duke’s steeplechase depth in 2014, introducing both Huth and Frazier to the event early in the season.
“[Steeplechase] is an event we need to build for our future steeplers,” Jermyn said. “Until you try, we really have no idea, but it’s definitely an opportunity where we have athletes that we need to try to get them to go towards that direction to help the team, to fill in our spots, since we’re probably overly strong at 1,500m outdoors. There’s not that next upper distance where you go flat 3,000m, so [the steeple] is something we’re trying to work on and develop.”
Huth joins the Duke track and field program after competing for four years as a member of the Northwestern cross country team. Huth excelled for the Wildcats, earning All-Big Ten accolades and two All-Midwest Region honors while setting a school record at 6,000m.
Frazier returns to competition following a cross country season marred by illness. The Raleigh, N.C., native competed in one cross country meet this fall, finishing the 5,000m course in a time of 17:15.4. During her high school career, Frazier showcased range on the track with personal records of 4:39 for the 1,600, 9:57 for the 3,200 and 15:55 for the 5,000.
Those new to the steeplechase can look to senior Ashley Berry, who competed in the event during the 2013 season, for guidance. Berry provides the Blue Devils with championship experience in the steeplechase after placing sixth overall a year ago at the ACC Championship.
5,000 meters/10,000 meters:
Graduate student Juliet Bottorff looks to cap a stellar collegiate career in her final track season with Duke. Bottorff’s résumé includes a national championship at 10,000m, four All-America honors, ACC indoor champion at 5,000m, USTFCCCA Academic All-America accolades, an ECAC individual championship at 3,000m and three All-ACC distinctions. Bottorff holds the 5,000m indoor school record of 15:49.45, and her 10,000m time of 33:18.45 ranks third on Duke’s all-time list. The 5,000m will garner Bottorff’s attention during the indoor season, before the Newark, Del., native increases the distance to 10,000m for her outdoor campaign.
Graduate student Madeline Morgan, also entering her final season with Duke, has been one of the team’s top 5,000m runners throughout her collegiate career, receiving All-ACC honors indoor at 3,000m and All-East accolades for both the 3,000m and 5,000m outdoors.
Junior Kelsey Lakowske affords depth for the Blue Devils at the longer distances. During her first indoor season at Duke, Lakowske placed 8th overall at the ACC Championship at 5,000m, finishing in a time of 16:41.29. The Boulder, Colo., native also clocked the fastest 3,000m indoor time of the season for the Blue Devils, recording a 9:41.38 at the Armory Collegiate meet.
For the distance program and Jermyn, a number of goals will guide the team through the 2014 season.
“Besides trying to do well as a team at ACCs, both indoors and outdoors, we’d like to get our DMR to indoor nationals again. Trying to put together some relays would also be a fun goal for outdoors.”
Duke harriers will look to continue the success from the 2013 season, when eight performances broke into Duke’s top-five fastest times in the distance events.