Most college athletes dream of having a single season impressive enough to attain an All-American honor.
Shannon Rowbury compiled three such seasons over the course of a single year.
With an eighth-place finish (4:17.69) in the 1,500-meter finals of the 2005 NCAA Track & Field Championships, held in Sacramento, Calif., Rowbury earned All-American honors to become the first Duke student-athlete named All-America in three different sports over the course of a single academic year.
A competitor in cross country, as well as indoor and outdoor track & field, the junior had captured All-American honors in the previous two seasons earlier in the academic year and has now received the distinction four times in her career.
“Just being able to peak three times in a year is difficult,” head coach Norm Ogilvie said. “She showed versatility and the ability to deal with pressure on three different occasions.”
Rowbury, however, was not the only Blue Devil to leave Sacramento an All-American.
Competing in her first ever national tournament, junior Liz Wort set a new personal record, as she rewrote her own Duke record in the 3,000-meter Steeplechase. Her time of 10:05.39 was good enough for fourth place, and by finishing in the top eight, the junior was named an All-American for the first time in her career.
“It’s just a really big honor, especially considering how many other good runners there are in the country,” Wort said. “I wouldn’t have even thought it was a goal for me earlier in the year.”
Wort’s performance was particularly impressive, considering last weekend’s championship marked the first time the junior had ever competed on a national stage.
“Normally, the first NCAA experience is a tough one—there’s so much overwhelming pressure,” Ogilvie said. “To run your fastest race of the year in the final race of the year is what every runner wants to achieve. She couldn’t have possibly done things in a better way.”
Debra Vento rounded out Duke’s strong performance at the outdoor championships.
The sophomore knew she had to clear 6-feet on her first try in order to have a shot at All-American. Rising to the occasion, Vento hit the mark to earn a third place finish and her first ever All-America distinction.
“Debra had a good year in terms of her consistency,” Ogilvie said. “When she got to NCAAs she wasn’t afraid of anyone.”
Vento’s third-place finish in the high jump was the best of any Blue Devil and helped vault Duke into a tie for 18th in team competition.
Duke’s only disappointment at the championships was in the 10,000-meter run. Paige Miller’s stress fracture impeded her from finishing the race, and Laura Stanley, who was slowed by a stomach ailment, finished 23rd.
Overall, Coach Ogilvie was very pleased with his team’s performance at the outdoor championships, and felt that the team had competed well with the 18th-place finish.
“We felt very good about the season,” Ogilvie said. “With three top-20 finishes in cross country, indoors and outdoors, the program showed it can be consistent on the national level.”
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