Shannon Rowbury has proven herself on the outdoor track, cross country trails and now indoors at the ACC Championships—and she’s done it at distances ranging from 400 meters to six kilometers.
Rowbury, a junior, won the mile and the 3,000-meter events Saturday in Chapel Hill, leading a Duke women’s team deep in middle- and long-distance runners to a fourth-place finish. The men’s team, however, could only muster 10th place.
“Highest team finish in school history for the women,” head coach Norm Ogilvie said. “For years—ninth, ninth, ninth—and now we jump up to fourth.”
Rowbury’s first win came in the mile, and she earned a NCAA Indoor Championship automatic berth with a time of 4:38.66. Rowbury ran behind North Carolina’s Erin Donohue for the majority of the race and made her move with 250 meters to go to best Donohue by four seconds. Duke’s Liz Wort placed third in the event, finishing with a time of 4:50.27.
With only a few hours between the mile run and the 3,000-meters, Rowbury began the day unsure of whether she would compete in both events. Riding the adrenaline of her earlier win, Rowbury did not appear fatigued. She ran to a seven-second victory on a late two-lap surge and finished in 9:20.74 in the 3,000-meters.
“It was sort of a, ‘I’ll just go out and see how I can do’, which made it easy because I didn’t have all the pressure on my shoulders,” Rowbury said.
The Blue Devils had each of the first four spots after five of the 15 laps. Wort, a rabbit for the race, was in the top position but dropped out at the midway point, handing teammate Paige Miller the lead. One lap later, Rowbury moved into the lead and sprinted ahead of the Blue Devils and Wake Forest’s Annie Bersagel. Miller dropped back to the third, earning a NCAA provisional qualifying time of 9:29.20.
Sophomore Debra Vento, battling the flu, still placed third in the high jump. Her leap of 1.78 meters was not good enough to top defending the national champion, Georgia Tech’s Chaunte Howard, or North Carolina’s Sheena Gordon, who posted her personal best.
“I thought that was the gutsiest performance of the meet,” Ogilvie said. “She had no strength and summoned enough energy to get third place, which is all that was expected of her.”
On the men’s side, freshman Jade Ellis placed third in the triple-jump with a leap of 15.24 meters. Ellis improved his distance on each of his first five jumps, but he scratched on his sixth when the top two competitors posted their longest jumps. His jump was a foot and a half shorter than his best this year.
“Jade to this date is the top freshman triple-jumper in the nation,” Ogilvie said. “What more can you say than that—he made All-ACC his freshman year.”
Senior Nick Schneider opted to run the 3,000-meters instead of the mile. In a race that featured the best competition he has faced all year, Schneider led for five of the 15 laps. But he fell back to seventh by the end of the race, losing most of the ground in the final six laps.
“I knew that I had to go at some point in the middle of the race to get the kick out of them,” Schneider said. “My legs just kind of tightened up with about 600 meters to go. I just didn’t have it for the last 600 meters.”
Florida State won the men’s championship, edging out Clemson in the final race. Miami took the women’s championship by a wide margin.
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