DURHAM, N.C. -- The Duke track and field program is set to open the 2014 season Friday, Jan. 17, competing in the Virginia Tech Invitational in Blacksburg, Va.
“We’re going to run many of our best athletes this weekend to see where they stand after a long month and a half of training,” said Duke’s Director of Track and Field Norm Ogilvie. “We think we’re in a pretty good place, but there’s nothing like an actual competition to sort everything out.”
The Blue Devils will field a talented squad in the distance events during the opening contest, with Kevin Jermyn’s women’s distance group competing in events ranging from the distance medley relay to 5,000 meters. Freshmen Haley Meier and Hannah Meier make their collegiate track debuts, with both competing in the 1,000. Haley and Hannah both look to contribute in a DMR, as well. Graduate student Juliet Bottorff, the returning ACC individual champion at 5,000m, opens her final season with Duke with an appearance in the 3,000, as well as the anchor leg of a DMR. Jermyn looks to run a number of competitors in both the 3,000 and 5,000 to open the season, with a plethora of Blue Devils also slated to take part in multiple DMRs.
For the distance men, senior Brian Atkinson, graduate student Mike Moverman and junior Shaun Thompson open 2014 by competing in the 3,000, with each looking to drop under 8:10. Moverman and Thompson competed in the 3,000 at last year’s Virginia Tech Invite, placing second and third, respectively. Atkinson, whose primary focus indoor is the 5,000, did not compete at the 3,000 distance last season. Two freshmen, Alec Kunzweiler and Stephen Shine, make their collegiate debuts in the mile this weekend. Both harriers exhibited talent at the high school level, with Kunzweiler running a personal-best 800m time of 1:51.68 and Shine joining Duke with a personal-best time of 4:11.25 in the mile. Juniors Nate McClafferty and Brian Schoepfer are also slated to compete in the mile at the Virginia Tech Invitational. At last season’s meet, the duo placed second and seventh, respectively, with McClafferty running a season-best time at the meet.
Associate head track and field coach Shawn Wilbourn fields an experienced group of multi-event athletes this weekend, which includes redshirt senior Curtis Beach, junior Ian Rock and sophomore Robert Rohner, all of whom bring championship experience to the Blue Devil lineup. Beach embarks on his final collegiate indoor season, looking to reach the national championship later in the season in his hometown of Albuquerque, N.M. Beach, Rock and Rohner each enter multiple events this weekend in preparation for the combined events later in the season.
For the multi-event women, the trio of redshirt sophomores Karli Johonnot and Teddi Maslowski and senior Miray Seward open competition at the Virginia Tech Invitational. Johonnot and Maslowski both look to rebound following injuries that forced each to miss the 2013 indoor season. Seward, entering her final season at Duke, returns as Duke’s top-performer in the combined events at the 2013 conference championship.
In the field events, senior Justin Amezquita and sophomore Megan Clark both return to the pole vault runway in hopes of seeing continued success in their event. Amezquita closed his 2013 indoor season with a fourth-place finish at the ACC Indoor Championship and set a school-record vault of 17-5 (5.31). Clark, who currently ranks third on Duke’s all-time indoor list in the pole vault, looks to build on her international experience from the summer, when the Fort Benning, Ga., native placed fifth at the Junior Pan American Games in Medellin, Columbia.
The competition begins Friday at 5 p.m., with the events on Saturday set to kickoff at 11 a.m. Visit here for full results.