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NCAA Track & Field: Beach positioned for title run

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The Blue Devil is red-hot – or, at least, hot enough.

No, Albuquerque native and Duke University senior Curtis Beach does not lead the field going into today’s final three events of the heptathlon at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field championships.

But, said his coach, Beach is in near-ideal position to be at the top of the podium when it’s over.

“It was a very solid day,” said Duke associate head coach Shawn Wilbourn after Friday’s competition at the Albuqerque Convention Center. “That’s what we were looking for. Not to have a magical day or magical events, just to be solid and consistent.

“That’s how you’re gonna win – just being even keel. And he did that. He executed it perfectly.”

Beach left the arena shortly after the high jump, the fourth and final event of the day, and was not available for interviews.

Georgia sophomore Maicel Uibo leads after the first day with a point total of 3,359, followed by Arkansas’ Kevin Lazas with 3,315. Beach has 3,310 – a first-day personal record.

Beach typically has a strong second day (60-meter hurdles, pole vault, 1000-meter run).

The 1,000 meters is Beach’s heptathlon ace in the hole. His personal best in that event, 2:23.63, is some 16 seconds better than Uibo’s, almost 22 seconds better than Lazas’ and almost 25 better than that of Wisconsin’s Zach Ziemek, who is in fourth place.

Beach, an Albuquerque Academy graduate, began Friday’s competition with a 60-meter dash clocking of 7.06 – good for fifth place among the 16 athletes entered in the heptathlon.

In the next event, the long jump, he uncorked a leap of 25 feet, 2 inches – an indoor personal record and best in the field by some 10 inches. That effort moved him into the lead.

Beach fell back to third, however, with a below-average performance in the shot put. After a throw of 39-8¾, more than 3 feet below his indoor PR, he fouled on his final two efforts.

Wilbourn noted that Beach, performing in front of friends and family members, has been pointing toward this meet for a long time.

“With his family (watching) and being in his hometown, he got a little too amped up in the shot put,” Wilbourn said. “In the shot put you have to stay patient, and he just let the emotional part take over and kind of lost his form.”

Fortunately, the shot put – typically Beach’s weakest heptathlon event – generates fewer points than the other six.

“He threw not as well as we had hoped,” Wilbourn said, “but from a points standpoint we didn’t lose a lot.”

In the high jump, Uibo’s clearance of 6-11½ propelled him into the lead. But Beach’s jump of 6-9 (2.06 meters) moved him past Ziemek and within five points of Lazas as the first day concluded.

Beach took three attempts at 6-10¼ (2.09), but missed all three.

“As the bar went up, he was getting more and more excited and amped up,” Wilbourn said. “So, it was being able to manage his run and get him in the right spot.

“At 2.06 we had it perfect, and at 2.09 he just tried a little bit too hard and had some issues with his run. He definitely had the height.”

The Blue Devil is red-hot – or, at least, hot enough.

No, Albuquerque native and Duke University senior Curtis Beach does not lead the field going into today’s final three events of the heptathlon at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field championships.

But, said his coach, Beach is in near-ideal position to be at the top of the podium when it’s over.

“It was a very solid day,” said Duke associate head coach Shawn Wilbourn after Friday’s competition at the Albuqerque Convention Center. “That’s what we were looking for. Not to have a magical day or magical events, just to be solid and consistent.

“That’s how you’re gonna win — just being even keel. And he did that. He executed it perfectly.”

Beach left the arena shortly after the high jump, the fourth and final event of the day, and was not available for interviews.

Georgia sophomore Maicel Uibo leads after the first day with a point total of 3,359, followed by Arkansas’ Kevin Lazas with 3,315. Beach has 3,310 — a first-day personal record.

Beach typically has a strong second day (60-meter hurdles, pole vault, 1000-meter run).

The 1,000 meters is Beach’s heptathlon ace in the hole. His personal best in that event, 2:23.63, is some 16 seconds better than Uibo’s, almost 22 seconds better than Lazas’ and almost 25 better than that of Wisconsin’s Zach Ziemek, who is in fourth place.

Beach, an Albuquerque Academy graduate, began Friday’s competition with a 60-meter dash clocking of 7.06 — good for fifth place among the 16 athletes entered in the heptathlon.

In the next event, the long jump, he uncorked a leap of 25 feet, 2 inches — an indoor personal record and best in the field by some 10 inches. That effort moved him into the lead.

Beach fell back to third, however, with a below-average performance in the shot put. After a throw of 39-8 3/4, more than 3 feet below his indoor PR, he fouled on his final two efforts.

Wilbourn noted that Beach, performing in front of friends and family members, has been pointing toward this meet for a long time.

“With his family (watching) and being in his hometown, he got a little too amped up in the shot put,” Wilbourn said. “In the shot put you have to stay patient, and he just let the emotional part take over and kind of lost his form.”

Fortunately, the shot put — typically Beach’s weakest heptathlon event — generates fewer points than the other six.

“He threw not as well as we had hoped,” Wilbourn said, “but from a points standpoint we didn’t lose a lot.”

In the high jump, Uibo’s clearance of 6-11 1/2 propelled him into the lead. But Beach’s jump of 6-9 (2.06 meters) moved him past Ziemek and within five points of Lazas as the first day concluded.

Beach took three attempts at 6-10 1/4 (2.09), but missed all three.

“As the bar went up, he was getting more and more excited and amped up,” Wilbourn said. “So, it was being able to manage his run and get him in the right spot.

“At 2.06 we had it perfect, and at 2.09 he just tried a little bit too hard and had some issues with his run. He definitely had the height.”

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