DURHAM, N.C. – Six Duke student-athletes will conclude the outdoor season at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships this week, hosted by the University of Oregon in Eugene, Ore., June 6-9 at Hayward Field.
Each day of competition will be televised live by ESPN, beginning Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., on ESPN2. Thursday’s action will also be on ESPN2 starting at 7:00 p.m. ESPNU will have the broadcast on Friday, beginning at 5:00 p.m., before ESPN takes over at 8:30 pm. Finally, Saturday’s coverage will be handled by ESPN starting at 7:00 p.m. Fans can also stream all four days online with ESPN3.
Five of the six Blue Devils have competed at the Outdoor National Championships previously and four will be returning for at least the second straight season. All six have experience competing at a national championship meet if you include the indoor championships.
“Experience at the NCAA’s is huge,” said director of track and field Norm Ogilvie. “A lot of people will get there and be overwhelmed. It can happen to seniors as well, but if you’ve been there before, it greatly increases your odds of performing well. It’s the human condition that we get nervous on the big stage, but being there before gives you an advantage over those who haven’t. We think that’s a huge thing going for us. We may not have the number of competitors going to NCAAs as in past years, but I think we’re very high end. Everybody we’re sending has a reasonable chance to score in the meet and having proven, veteran competitors is a huge part of that.”
- Duke will be sending its women’s 4x400m relay team to Eugene for the third straight season and will be seeking to make the first final in school history. Maddy Price and MacKenzie Kerr have been a part of all three relay teams with India Lowe joining for the 2017 edition. Making her Outdoor Championships debut will be Brittany Aveni.
- The 4x400m squad has been at their best in big races. The quartet won just the fifth Penn Relay Wheel in Duke history when they clocked a time of 3:37.53 and passed two teams on the final lap to claim victory. The race was highlighted by Price’s final lap split of 51.59 as the senior blazed past both Clemson and UTech for the win.
- Duke’s team was even faster at the NCAA East Regional, sprinting to a combined time of 3:32.21 to not only break the Duke record, but book their place at the national meet.
- The squad is seeded eighth in the field and will be trying to improve on their performance at this year’s Indoor Championships where they finished in 14th.
- “The women’s 4x400 definitely has experience on their side,” Ogilvie added. “All the women on the team have been to NCAA’s before, so they have that big meet experience. Winning at the Penn Relays was huge, it always is winning a Championship of America. But they did it in convincing fashion and that helps them know they can compete with anyone. I think they have an excellent chance to do what no Duke women’s 4x400m team has done, and that is make the NCAA Final. We think this is the year we can do that. The other really good thing the team has is Maddy Price, our senior on the anchor. She has split sub 52 seconds on several occasions now so she’s not going to give quarter to anyone and that’s what you want on the anchor leg.”
- Racing in the 400m will be graduate student Steven Solomon. Solomon will be competing at the NCAA Outdoor Championships for the first time as a Blue Devil and the second time overall. He qualified for the 2013 edition as an undergraduate at Stanford.
- Solomon spent the first portion of the outdoor season representing his home country of Australia in the Commonwealth Games, finishing in seventh place in the 400m.
- Solomon has competed for Duke in three different meets and has broken a record in each of them. He covered the 400m leg of the sprint medley relay and combined with Jacob Sobota, Miles Mingo and Matt Wisner to break the oldest Duke relay record, clocking a time of 3:16.52 to break the 1971 mark.
- He competed individually as a Blue Devil for the first time at the ACC Championships, setting a new Duke 400m standard in both the preliminary heat and the final. His time of 45.50 in the final earned him the ACC title.
- Solomon qualified for the NCAA Championships with a time of 45.41 at the NCAA East Preliminary final, finishing in seventh overall. He will be seeded ninth at the Championships.
- “Steven is one of the top 400m runners in the nation, that’s quite clear,” Ogilvie said. “ACC Champion outdoors, running 45.41, he’s run even faster on a relay this year. He’s split 44.6 and at the Penn Relays, he split 44.8, which helped set a school record in the sprint medley relay. That was the oldest relay record on the books, dating back to 1971. He’s a truly special performer. Usually you are going to get that when someone has competed in the Olympics and the World Championships before showing up on campus. We would have loved to have Steven for four years, but are very happy to have him for one. He leaves Durham with a Duke graduate degree from Fuqua (School of Business). It’s been a magical year for the Duke track team and Steve.”
- Continuing a strong tradition of Duke sending pole vaulters to the national meet will be Laura Marty.
- Marty will be traveling to Eugene for the second straight year and it will be the fourth straight year that Duke has sent at least one female pole vaulter. Marty finished in 17th in 2017 to earn Honorable Mention All-America honors.
- Marty has a personal-best clearance of 13-9.25 (4.20) this season, which is the fourth-highest mark in Duke history. She has racked up six top-10 finishes this season, including a first-place at the Battle of the Blues.
- The sophomore cleared 13-8.50 (4.18) at the NCAA East Regional, her second highest mark of the season, to place third in the competition and move onto the national meet.
- Marty will be competing not too far from home, as she is a product of Seattle, Wash.
- “Laura Marty is an NCAA veteran. She went to this meet last year. Even though she’ll be the only Blue Devil vaulter in the competition, she knows what it’s like to go to Eugene and compete in front of a large crowd at Hayward Field. She’s ready to vault well and we think a first-team All-America position is within her grasp and that’s what she’s going to try to get.”
Solomon will lead off competition for the Blue Devils, racing in the 400m semifinals at 9:00 p.m., on Wednesday. Marty is scheduled to compete in the women’s pole vault starting at 7:30 p.m., on Thursday followed by the 4x400m relay semifinals later that night at 10:18 p.m. The 400m final will take place on Friday at 9:32 p.m., with the 4x400m relay final scheduled for 8:51 p.m., on Saturday.