JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Blue Devils bring their NCAA Championship qualifier total to seven individuals in eight events after two days of competition at the 2012 NCAA First round in Jacksonville, Fla. The impressive day was highlighted by sophomore Curtis Beach's successful execution of a double qualification in the 800 meters and long jump.
"It was another outstanding day today, commented Director of Track and Field Norm Ogilvie. "Curtis had an outstanding day. He looked like he was running open 800's his entire life but it was really only his second in a championship setting. It was a great 800 for him. You would be a fool to count him out at nationals. He won't be the favorite going into the NCAA 800 but I wouldn't bet against him."
Duke finished day two with four out of six participants moving on to compete in Des Moines, Iowa. Seniors Amy Fryt and Cydney Ross along with sophomores Beach and Erica Brand had outstanding performances in their respective events to qualify them for the prestigious collegiate championship on June 6-9, 2012.
Beach ran a personal record 1:47.75 in the men's 800 meters to finish third overall and move on to the NCAA Championships. This accomplishment is even more impressive considering that the Albuquerque, N.M., native competed in the men's long jump for four hours in the heat of the day yesterday. Usually a slow starter, he altered his typical racing strategy and picked up his pace in the first 200 meters in order to stay in the thick of the qualifying race.
"I don't feel like I'm peaking yet which I shouldn't be right now," Beach commented after his race. "But I still felt fine for where I am at. Today, it felt similar to the second day of the decathlon coming back after long jumping and the 800 yesterday. I didn't feel amazing going in but I wanted to give it my best shot and see what happens."
Fifth year senior Fryt vaulted her way into a slot at the NCAA Championships by clearing 13-5.25 (4.10) to finish in fifth place in the women's pole vault. By her performance, it would be impossible for any spectator to realize that at this time last year, the Goldsboro, N.C., native was recovering from knee surgery except for the black brace that accompanied her uniform. This weekend marked the third appearance at the NCAA First Round meet for Fryt but this is the first time that she has advanced to the outdoor championship meet.
"I felt really good and confident," the beaming Fryt commented. "I started out the year really well but have had my ups and downs all season. Today my goal was go out, stay relaxed and have fun with it; I treated it like it was my last meet and the results came."
Ross ran a season best 2:06.53 in the women's 800 meters to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the second year in a row.
"Yesterday I had one of my best days of the season so I was really excited that I was able to run fast and smooth for all 800 meters," commented Ross. "Today I had a similar plan. I was really relaxed in my prerace and felt very calm, cool, and focused on executing my race plan; not worrying too much about outside factors and qualifying and times but focusing on the race."
Sophomore Erica Brand will also be making her first trip to the NCAA Championships by qualifying in the women's discus with a mark of 175-10 (53.61) on her sixth and final throw. The Blue Devil had an extremely impressive day with an outstanding first throw that allowed her to have a little breathing room throughout the competition.
"Getting a good throw in and knowing that I am in a good position for the rest of the competition helps me, especially with my nerves," Brand commented. "For the last throw, I wanted to go for it because I knew that I was set in a good position and didn't have to throw a certain distance to get in. I didn't know it was going that far. When it came out it felt like an okay throw but when it came up on the board as a 53 everyone started screaming and I was pretty surprised."
Duke's two rookie competitors finished their freshman campaigns strong with Abby Farley finishing 21st in the 800 with a time of 2:10.23 while Shaun Thompson ran close to his personal best in the men's 3,000 steeplechase by crossing the line in 9:00.35
The final day of first round competition will take place tomorrow, Saturday, May 26. Sophomores Tanner Anderson and Michael Krone will compete for their NCAA championship spot in the men's high jump, sophomore Justin Amezquita will participate in the men's pole vault, sophomore Michelle Anumba will return to action in the women's hammer throw and senior Michael Barbas will round out the field events in the men's shot put. To close out action on the track, sophomore Madeline Morgan and freshman Morgan Pearson will race in the women's and men's 5,000 meters.
A full recap and complete results will be available on www.GoDuke.com.