COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS – Six members of the Duke track and field team will travel to College Station, Texas to compete in the 2018 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships March 9-10 at the Gilliam Indoor Stadium on the campus of Texas A&M.
Representing Duke will be graduate student Steven Solomon in the 400m, senior Madison Heath in the pole vault and senior Maddy Price, juniors India Lowe and MacKenzie Kerr and sophomore Brittany Aveni in the 4x400m relay.
ESPN3 will broadcast both days with Friday’s live coverage beginning at 6:00 p.m. (EST) and Saturday’s starting at 5:00 p.m. (EST). A shortened replay of the meet will also air Sunday, March 11 on ESPN2 at 7 p.m.
Flashback to 2017
At the 2017 NCAA Indoor Championships, the Blue Devils sent two student-athletes with both bringing second team All-America accolades back to Durham.
Heath finished in a tie for 13th in the pole vault after clearing 13-3.50 (4.05).
Current volunteer assistant coach Madeline Kopp took 13th in the 800m, clocking a time of 2:07.28.
ACC Record Holder
2018 will make the second time Steven Solomon has qualified for indoor nationals, but it will be the first time he competes individually as well as the first time he will compete as a Blue Devil.
Solomon competed in the DMR in 2014 as a member of the Stanford track and field team. He ran the 400m leg as the Cardinals won the national championship.
The Sydney, Australia native qualified for this year’s championships with an ACC record time of 45.44 at the conference championships. That is also the Duke record and the Australian record. He will be the fourth seed in the event.
“He’s clearly the best 400m runner Duke’s ever had by a large margin,” said director of track and field Norm Ogilvie. “The impact is that he makes not only all of our relays better, but he’s the best the ACC’s ever seen as evidenced by his 45.44 at the ACC Championships, which was quite the run. He’s an immediate factor to be an All-American at the NCAA and if he puts it together, he could win the whole thing. He’s that talented and that good and he’s experienced. He’s been in the Olympics and the World Championships, he’s not going to be intimidated by an NCAA meet. “Having run 800s and 600s this season, it’s helped build the strength for him to go through two rounds. That’s the biggest improvement he has to make from the ACC’s where he ran a 45.44 in the heats and then a low 46 the next day. Now he needs to go to the NCAA’s and run 45.44 in the trial and see if he can do that again or lower it in the final to be a factor to win.”
Returning to Nationals
Heath returns to the indoor national championships for the second consecutive year. It will be her fifth NCAA Championship in total as she has also qualified for three outdoor championship meets.
The Mandeville, La., native is second in the ACC and tied for ninth in the country this season with a clearance of 14-1.75 (4.31). That is a personal-best and second all-time at Duke.
At the ACC Championships, Heath took third place after notching a mark of 13-11.25 (4.25), giving her three consecutive first team All-ACC honors in the event.
“Madison Heath has been a fixture at the NCAA meets since her freshman year,” said Ogilvie. “She’s been tremendous and has been recognized for her consistent greatness in the women’s pole vault. She’s won a lot of awards. She’s done it because she’s a hard worker, she’s consistent and she can vault under pressure. We look forward to seeing what she can do at the NCAA meet and hopefully this time she can score some points.”
One Veteran – Three Newcomers
It will be the third appearance at the indoor championships for Price after she raced in the 4x400m relay in 2015 and in the DMR in 2016. Lowe, Aveni and Kerr will all compete in the indoor championships for the first time, although Lowe and Kerr joined Price in racing in the 4x400m relay at the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
The quartet holds the second fastest time in Duke history after clocking a time of 3:33.64 to place second at the ACC Championships.
“Our women’s 4x400 ran the second fastest time in Duke history and it was barely enough to make the NCAA meet, but all that matters is getting in,” Ogilvie said. “Now that they’re there, we hope that they can trim a couple of seconds and then they’ll be in the running. I was watching the World Indoor Championships this weekend and our relay would have been very respectable against the best nations in the world. They’re good, make no mistake about that. We have senior Maddy Price anchoring and she’s now the school record holder in the 400m. We’ve never been in better hands going into the anchor leg than with Maddy Price.”
Solomon is set to compete in the 400m preliminary heats on Friday at 7:25 p.m. (EST) with the finals scheduled for Saturday at 5:50 p.m. (EST).
Heath is slated for the women’s pole vault on Saturday at 5 p.m. (EST). The 4x400m relay is the final track event of the weekend and is scheduled for 7:55 p.m. (EST) on Saturday night. Live results for the entire weekend can be found here.