TAMPA, FLA. – Two members of the Duke track and field team qualified for the NCAA Track and Championships on the second day of the NCAA East Preliminary Heats at the University of South Florida Track and Field stadium.
In the men’s 400m, Steven Solomon set a new Duke record for the third time in four races. The graduate student had rewritten the school record twice during the ACC Outdoor Championships on his way to the gold medal, and just missed doing so again during Thursday’s preliminary heats. On Friday, Solomon blazed to a time of 45.41, placing him in third in his heat to earn a spot in the NCAA Championship field. Solomon finished in seventh overall and will compete in his second NCAA Championship meet as a Blue Devil, after also qualifying for the NCAA Indoor Championship in the 400m.
“Great stuff for Solomon, advancing to Eugene in the 400m,” said director of track and field Norm Ogilvie. “It shows how good the competition was here today in Tampa that he ran a time of 45.41 and he was the seventh finisher."
Qualifying for the NCAA Championships for the second straight year was Laura Marty in the women’s pole vault. The sophomore from Seattle, Wash., was nearly perfect in the competition, slipping up just once. Marty cleared 12-10.75 (3.93) and 13-4.50 (4.08) in her first attempt at each height. Although she failed on her first attempt at 13-8.50 (4.18), Marty bounced back to vault cleanly over on her second try. That turned out to be the final height she needed to clear to be among the top-12 competitors and earn a trip to Eugene.
“Second trip for Laura and she did what she needed to do,” added Ogilvie. “She was pretty clean on her attempts, enough to get her third place overall. We’re very excited for Laura.”
The individual seasons of Maddy Price and Kethlin Campbell came to an end on Friday. Price was trying to qualify in the 400m and had reached the quarterfinals after a time of 52.79 in the first round. Price went even lower on Friday, clocking a time of 52.63, her second-fastest of the season. Unfortunately, that left her short of the top-12. Campbell, competing in her first NCAA regional, ran to a personal-best time in the 200m. The freshman from Shelbyville, Tenn., crossed the finish line in 23.37, the second-fastest time in Duke history, but was unable to advance to tomorrow’s quarterfinal race. The pair are not done racing in Tampa though. Both will be a part of Duke’s 4x100m relay team and Price will also anchor the 4x400m relay.
“Maddy coming up a little bit short but she will have another chance to qualify tomorrow,” Ogilvie said. “She still ran very fast, it was just an exceptionally good year in the 400m. The same thing for Kethlin. We were very pleased with her personal-best and she ran very well. One unfortunate thing was that she ran a time that qualifies in other years, but this year the wind was 4.8 meters per second in all the heats but hers. That’s the breaks of track and field. Overall though, she ran really well.”
Closing out their seasons in the pole vault were Madison Heath and Nati Sheppard, with both clearing 12-10.75 (3.93). Heath leaves Duke as a five-time All-America selection, including a 2018 Indoor first-team honoree. She was the 2017 ACC Indoor and Outdoor champion and is second on Duke’s all-time list in the indoor and outdoor pole vault. Sheppard had a career-best season, earning second-team All-ACC honors and setting a personal-best.
Competing in his first NCAA East Preliminary was Matt Wisner in the 800m. Wisner had reached the quarterfinals by posting a time of 1:49.49 on Thursday. He ran a time of 1:53.82 on Friday to miss out on advancing. The sophomore finishes his campaign with personal-bests in both the 800m and the 1,500m, including the fourth-fastest 800m in Duke history (1:48.04), and helped the Blue Devils break the school record in the sprint medley relay.
“He gave it his best shot in the 90-degree heat,” Ogilvie said. “He put it on the line and tried to compete. It was a very strong sophomore campaign for him.”
Although he was unable to finish the race tonight due to an injury, Alec Kunzweiler found success taking up a new event during his senior season as he raced in the 3,000m steeplechase. His first two career races in the competition resulted in a pair of wins, taking first at both the Battle of the Blues and the Duke Invitational, setting a personal-best of 9:03.39. It was the second time he had reached the NCAA East Preliminary, also qualifying in 2016 in the 1,500m.
Duke will have five individual athletes as well as a pair of relays in competition on Saturday. The day gets underway with Stefani Vukajlovic competing in the women’s hammer throw at 8:45 a.m.
Blue Devils in Competition on Saturday
Women’s Hammer Throw: Stefani Vukajlovic
Women’s Triple Jump: Domonique Panton
Women’s 4x100m Relay: Domonique Panton, Kethlin Campbell, India Lowe, Maddy Price
Men’s Javelin Throw: Kiegan Lenihan, Michael Marsack
Men’s High Jump: Rivers Ridout
Women’s 4x400m Relay: India Lowe, MacKenzie Kerr, Brittany Aveni, Maddy Price