ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Day one of the 2014 NCAA Indoor Championships concluded with a number of Duke track and field members posting impressive performances. Duke saw two competitors earn first-team All-America honors at the Albuquerque Convention Center in Albuquerque, N.M.
Redshirt senior Curtis Beach positioned himself into third-place in the heptathlon through four events while senior high jumper Tanner Anderson saw an eighth-place finish, garnering the first Indoor First-Team All-America honor of his career. On the women’s side, graduate student Juliet Bottorff posted a fifth-place finish in the 5,000, marking the final indoor collegiate race for the Newark, Del., native and her second Indoor First Team All-America honor.
"Typical of an NCAA meet," Duke's Director of Track and FIeld Norm Ogilvie said. "Duke experienced great highs and gut-wrenching lows. Curtis Beach was inspiring as a hometown hero with a career-best first day performance in the heptathlon setting up what could be a historic Saturday."
Redshirt senior Curtis Beach, appearing in the fourth indoor national championship of his career, showed no signs of nerves in the first day of the heptathlon competition, amassing a first-day personal record point total of 3,310. Beach, a product of Albuquerque, N.M., saw a season-best effort in the 60-meter dash and personal-best marks in the long jump and high jump. After breaking the meet and facility records at the ACC Championships two weeks earlier, Beach exceeded point totals in three of the four events from the conference meet.
Beach opened the multi-event competition by clocking a time of 7.06 in the 60-meter dash before carrying over the momentum to the long jump. Beach won the second event convincingly after posting a mark of 25-2.00 (7.67) on his third and final attempt. Following a 39-8.75 (12.11) effort in the shot put, Beach bounced back with a strong showing in the high jump. The 2012 NCAA heptathlon champion cleared 6-9.00 (2.06) on his final attempt, matching his personal-best clearance. Beach resumes the heptathlon competition tomorrow at 1 p.m. (EST) with the 60m hurdles.
Bottorff, also familiar with the national championships with two previous appearances, showed her experience of competing at the national level. In a strategic 5,000 that saw the lead pack go through the first mile in a time of 5:27, Bottorff took the lead with approximately 1,000 meters remaining. Five hundred meters out, Bottorff dropped into second before once again surging to take the lead with 400 meters to go. Bottorff would relinquish her lead and hold on to her fifth-place finish over the final 200 meters. Bottorff now owns two Indoor First-Team All-America honors, with the first coming last year in the 5,000 when she placed seventh overall.
Anderson, competing in his first national championships, earned an eighth-place finish in the high jump after breaking the seven-foot barrier for the second time this season. Anderson opened the competition with a clearance at 6-10.75 (2.10) before moving the bar to 7-0.25 (2.15). After clearing the height on his first attempt, Anderson missed on three attempts at 7-2.50 (2.20), bringing his national competition to a close. Anderson’s top-eight effort earned him the first Indoor First-Team All-America honor of his career.
Sophomore pole vaulter Megan Clark, also appearing in the first NCAA Indoor Championships of her collegiate career, cleared 13-9.25 (4.20), placing her 14th in the event. Clark concluded what Ogilvie described as a "magical season" that saw the Fort Benning, Ga., native surpass the 14-foot barrier three times throughout the season, including a school-record mark of 14-5.25 (4.40) earned at the ACC Indoor Championships two weeks earlier. With the finish, Clark secured an Indoor Second-Team All-America award.
"The night ended tragically when Audrey Huth, ending a fantastic first season of indoor track, ended it on the track after a late race collision," Ogilvie said.
In the final event of the evening, the Duke women’s distance medley relay, comprised of sophomore Anima Banks, junior Elizabeth Kerpon, freshman Haley Meier and graduate student Audrey Huth placed 10th with a time of 11:36.89. Banks led off the Blue Devil relay with a 3:29.92 1200m leg, handing the baton to Kerpon in ninth. Following a 400m time of 54.01 from Kerpon, the fifth-fastest 400m split of the race, Meier received the baton and covered the 800m distance in a time of 2:10.67. Huth, involved in a collision on the track that caused her to lose her position, closed out the relay for the Blue Devils, clocking a time of 5:02.31 for the 1600m leg. Each member of the Blue Devil relay earned an Indoor Second-Team All-America award for the 10th-place finish.
In addition to Beach concluding the heptathlon, redshirt sophomore Karli Johonnot is also scheduled to compete Saturday afternoon, set to participate in the women’s high jump at 5:30 p.m. (EST). Live coverage of the event will air on ESPN3 beginning at 7:50 (EST).