CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Duke track & field program will kick off the 2018 indoor season as it competes in the Dick Taylor Carolina Cup Saturday, Jan. 13 in Chapel Hill, N.C. Hosted by the University of North Carolina at the Eddie Smith Field House, the Blue Devils will face off against East Carolina and North Carolina State, along with the Tar Heels.
The men finished in a tie for first place in the 2017 edition while the women took second place.
“We’re in a pretty good place,” said track & field director Norm Ogilvie. “Always that first meet of the year is a revelation, even for the guys that have worked out. It’s getting used to the nerves and maybe getting used to the start or a different event. As a team, last year we finished tied for first on the men’s side and a year before that we won it on the women’s side, so we’d like to win both the men’s and women’s side this year.”
Action at the Eddie Smith Field House will kick off with field events at noon, followed by running events beginning at 2 p.m.
Sophomore Esteban Suarez will kick off competition for the Blue Devils in men’s pole vault along with classmates Christian Friis and Caleb Sanford and freshman Jacob Sobota. Suarez cleared a personal-best 15-10.75 (4.85) at last year’s ACC Indoor Championships to finish ninth. He also finished in second place at the 2017 Carolina Cup, trailing just former Blue Devil Connor Hall. Sanford took third place at last year’s event.
The women will be represented in the pole vault by the reigning ACC Indoor Champion Madison Heath, junior Nati Sheppard, sophomores Erin Marsh and Chesney Ward and freshman Rivka Arbiv. Heath had the second-best mark in school history when she cleared 14-0.00 (4.27) at the VT Challenge last year. She finished in first place at the ACC Indoor Champions and was a Second-Team All-American. Marty is fourth all-time at Duke with a mark of 13-8.25 (4.17) at the VT Challenge and Ward is fifth after reaching 13-4.25 (4.07) at the same event. Heath, Sheppard and Ward finished first, third and fourth respectively in last year’s Carolina Cup.
Senior Jack Maher, junior Iyin Battle and sophomore Ben Beatty are set to compete in the men’s weight throw competition, followed by junior Stefani Vukajlovic in the women’s event. Battle posted the second-best mark in program history when he tossed the implement 55-4.25 (16.87) at last year’s ACC Championships. Maher has the fourth-best toss in school history after a toss of 53-1.50 (16.19) in 2016. Vukajlovic, like Battle, has the second-furthest throw in school history when she threw the hammer 56-3.25 (17.15) at the Armory Invitational last year.
Senior JR Smith will cover the long jump and the triple jump for the men. Smith had the third-best long jump for Duke in 2017 when he reached a personal-best 22-9.00 (6.98) to finish in fifth-place at the VT Challenge. For the women, junior Sydnei Murphy and freshman Kethlin Campbell will compete in the long jump and junior Domonique Panton will enter the triple jump. Murphy has the second-best mark in program history after jumping a personal-best 20-7.00 (6.27) to win the silver medal at last year’s ACC Championships. Panton finished in fourth in the triple jump at last year’s Carolina Cup as well earning as a second-place finish at the VT Challenge when she cleared a season-best 39-3.75 (11.98).
Eight student-athletes will compete in the high jump with senior Colt Sessions, junior Rivers Ridout and freshmen Benjamin Ross and Bryant Lewis for the men and junior Jaida Lemmons, sophomores Tracy Jander and Cassie Martin and freshman Erin Marsh for the women. Ridout set a personal-best at the ACC Championships where he cleared 6-11.50 (2.12), good for third-highest in Duke history. He is the defending Carolina Cup champion in the event. Martin had the best Duke mark in the event last year, clearing 5-6.50 (1.69) in her first-place finish at the Hokie Invitational.
Rounding out the final field event, shot put, is Lemmons and Marsh for the women and Beatty, Friis, Maher and Sobota on the men’s side. Maher had the best Duke throw last year, reaching 50-8.75 (15.51) at the ACC Championships.
Running events will kick off with the preliminary heats for the 60m hurdles. Lemmons set a personal-best with a time of 8.94 at the VT Challenge in 2017. Also competing will be Marsh and fellow freshman Lauren Hoffman. For the men, Friis and Sobota will both race in the finals of the 60m hurdles.
Nine Blue Devils will enter the 60m dash preliminary heats. Senior Tionne Barmer will return after setting a personal-best 7.05 at the ACC Championships. Also competing for the men will be Smith and freshman Miles Mingo. For the women, Murphy, senior Maddy Price and junior India Lowe all enter with top-five Duke times to their name. Murphy set the school record with a time of 7.49 to finish first in last year’s Carolina Cup preliminaries and then clocked a 7.50 to win the final. Lowe ran a 7.66 in last year’s final, the fourth-best time in Duke history. Price ran the fifth-fastest time in program history in 2016 (7.67). Also competing will be Panton, Campbell and Hoffman.
Junior MacKenzie Kerr, sophomore Brittany Aveni and freshman Simi Gbadegesin will take the start in the 400m. Aveni had a fifth-place finish in last year’s Carolina Cup and Kerr had a ninth place finish at the Bob Pollock Invitational.
Competition will continue with the mile, highlighted by senior Matt Luppino, junior Jordan Burton, sophomore Tom Sullivan and freshman Alex Miley, Josh Romine and Michael Ungvarsky for the men and juniors Olivia Gwynn and Gabrielle Richichi for the women. Burton is undefeated in Carolina Cup competition, winning the 800m in 2015 and 2016.
Senior Kyle Francis and sophomores Sean Rafique and Matt Wisner are set to do battle in the 800m, along with freshman Leigha Torino. Wisner holds the school record in the event, clocking a 1:50.10 at the ACC Championships and is the defending Carolina Cup champion.
Next on the schedule is the 200m dash and will have Barmer, Mingo and junior Austin Nobis in the lineup for the men. Kerr, Lowe and senior Jasmine Hill are set for the women. Lowe has the fourth-fastest time in program history after finishing in 24.47 at last year’s Hokie Invitational.
In the final individual races, juniors Nikhil Pulimood and Stephen Garrett, sophomores Adamson Bryant, Cole Hoff and Ethan Ready and freshman Adamson Bryant will toe the line for the 3,000m. Junior Sheridan Wilbur and sophomore Lindsay Billings will race for the women. Pulimood had the best Blue Devil time in the event last year, finishing in 8:22.50 while Hoff won at the Carolina Cup. Wilbur finished in fourth at last year’s Carolina Cup with a personal-best 10:15.50.
Wrapping up the meet with the lone relay competition of the day, the Blue Devils will field both a men’s and women’s 4x400 team. The men’s squad will consist of four of the following six: Barmer, Burton, Mingo, Nobis, Rafique and Wisner. Lowe, Gbadegesin, Hill and Hoffman will pass the baton for the women.
“This a type of meet where you may get guys running in slightly different events. It should be interesting. You just don’t know how it’s going to turn out and that’s what makes it such a fun meet. All of the coaches are trying to find out what do I have here. We’re excited.” Ogilvie said.
Live results for the meet can be found here and a full schedule of events is attached.