DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke track and field team begins its season on Saturday when the Blue Devils compete in the Carolina Cup. Today, we look at the jumpers who are coming off a 2017 season that had athletes reach top-five marks in school history in eight different events.
Murphy had a break out season where she won medals both indoors and outdoors in the horizontal jumps. She won silver in the long jump at the ACC Indoor Championships as she jumped 20-7.0 (6.27) for the second-best performance in school history. She continued her impressive season outdoors by breaking the school record with a leap of 21-0.5 (6.41) at the Battle of the Blues and later finishing in third place at the ACC Outdoor Championships to earn another medal. Murphy also added the second-furthest indoor triple jump in school history when she had a mark of 40-3.25 (12.27) at the Bob Pollock Invite.
Panton had a solid sophomore campaign, setting personal bests on the track and in the indoor triple jump, where she had the third-best all-time school performance of 39-3.75 (11.98). She improved outdoors at the ACC Championships where she jumped 40-11.00 (12.47) to qualify for the finals. That jump was also the second-furthest in Duke’s history.
For the women, sophomores Cassie Martin and Tracy Jander return after spending their rookie year competing in the high jump. Martin qualified for the ACC Championships in the event during both the indoor and outdoor seasons. Martin, a product of Strongsville, Ohio, cleared a season-best 5-6.50 (1.69) to take her first collegiate victory at the Hokie Invite during the indoor campaign.
Jander joined Martin at the ACC Outdoor Championships and cleared a season-best 5-5.00 (1.65) at the Raleigh Relays to come in first place.
The men return senior JR Smith in the horizontal jumps. Smith returned from injury to set personal-bests in the long jump during both the indoor and outdoor campaigns. He cleared 22-9.00 (6.98) indoors and 23-2.75 (7.08) during the outdoor season and looks to build on the momentum he gained.
Junior Rivers Ridout made his mark on the school record books in the high jump during 2017. Ridout saved his best jump for last during the indoor season, clearing 6-11.50 (2.12) at the ACC Indoor Championships, placing him third all-time at Duke. The Searcy, Ark., native also had the third-highest jump in school history in the outdoor high jump when he cleared 6-10.75 (2.10) at the Raleigh Relays to finish in second place.
Also returning in the high jump is senior Colt Sessions. Sessions set a new personal-best in the outdoor high jump when he cleared 6-7.50 (2.02) at the Tennessee Relays.
Joining Ridout and Sessions will be a pair of freshmen in Bryant Lewis and Benjamin Ross. Lewis, hailing from Holtsville, N.Y., was the 2017 NYCHSSA Indoor and Outdoor State Champion in the high jump as well as competing at the New Balance Indoor Nationals. Ross, a product of Baldwin, N.Y., was the 2017 Nassau County champion in the indoor and outdoor high jump as well as the outdoor champion in 2016.
The Blue Devils begin their season Saturday, Jan. 13, when they travel down the road to Chapel Hill for the Carolina Cup. The meet gets underway at noon in Eddie Smith Field House on the campus of the University of North Carolina. Follow the action here.