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Assumption's Carly King, left, comes down the stretch of the Class 3A girls 400-meter dash last May in Des Moines. King, a three-time state champion, committed to Duke's track and field program last week. 

Before Carly King took her official visit to Duke a couple weeks ago, the Davenport Assumption senior had an inkling the Atlantic Coast Conference institution could be the one.

The trip to the Durham, North Carolina, campus did nothing to change that.

“It solidified my thoughts and made my decision a lot easier,” she said.

King, an 11-time Class 3A state track and field medalist, including three titles, gave Duke a verbal commitment last week to join its program in the fall of 2019.

From Duke’s academic reputation to the vibes she had interacting with members of the team and coaching staff, King said it was a perfect fit.

Duke’s coaching staff, led by sprints coach Mark Mueller, reached out to King in July. The relationship grew over the past several months.

“Just from the conversations I had with them, I fell in love with the program and school,” she said.

King also took an official visit to Iowa recently and developed a good rapport with assistant coach Jason Wakenight. She had trips scheduled to the University of Colorado and Tennessee, but she cancelled those after returning from Duke.

The three-sport athlete plans to study pre-medicine, with a major likely in biology.

“Duke has prestigious academics, a very good pre-med program,” King said. “That was the icing on the cake for me.”

King won a state championship in the 100 meters and anchored the Knights' victorious 400 relay as a freshman. She collected a Drake Relays title in the 100 and a state championship in the 400 this past spring in 56.09 seconds. In all 11 of her races at the state meet, she has finished in the top three. 

The intention is to focus on longer sprints in college — 200, 400 and possibly the 600 during indoor season.

Duke’s 1,600 relay team was ninth at the outdoor national championships this past season. The Blue Devils placed seventh out of 15 teams at last spring's ACC outdoor meet.

“I was definitely looking for a strong program with a lot of competitive girls that I would be training with,” King said. “I didn’t want to go into a program where I’d be the top runner, and I didn’t want to go in where I was at the very bottom.

“They have a lot of girls who are very similar in ability to me, but there will be some girls that will challenge me. Overall, it is a strong training group.”

While her sisters, Kennedy and Mallory, stayed relatively close to home for college (Grand View and Iowa), the Duke campus is about 14 hours from the Quad-Cities.

“This is going to be a big adjustment, but I always kind of thought in the back of my head I wouldn’t mind going far away,” King said. “It will be tough, but such a great experience and one I didn’t want to pass up.”

An all-stater in soccer and a starter on a state-qualifying volleyball team, King said she’s known since her freshman season track was the sport she wanted to pursue in college.

King, who can sign a national letter of intent on Nov. 14, plans to play soccer and run track again this spring. She has been a key component of three state soccer championships and two team titles in track.

“I love soccer and love volleyball, but I’m passionate most about track,” she said. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything. This is a dream come true, something that has been my goal for as long as I can remember.

“To see it all come together is really special.”

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Sports Editor

Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.