When the Blue Devils closed out the season at the NCAA Indoor Championships this past weekend, they were competing for more than just their own results. Their former teammate, Sally Meyerhoff, passed away shortly before the meet began, and though not all the athletes knew her, they banded together to compete in her memory.
“That’s the good thing about team sports,” senior Kate Van Buskirk said. “Everyone came together and was very supportive. Racing in [Meyerhoff’s] honor was definitely a big source of motivation and inspiration.”
According to Van Buskirk, the NCAA meet was an opportunity for the Duke athletes to honor their fallen teammate. Van Buskirk’s goal throughout the indoor season had been to achieve a top-eight finish in the finals and make first team All-American in the mile. With the added inspiration, however, she was able to exceed expectations and finish in second behind Oregon sophomore Jordan Hasay, capping off a successful indoor season.
The senior stated that, in addition to the motivation of representing Meyerhoff, her ability to remain injury-free throughout the last year played a major role in her success at the meet and her steady improvement this season.
“I’ve had a history of injury in the past,” Van Buskirk said, “So being able to have that consistency contributed.”
Her training clearly paid off this weekend, where in addition to making first team All-American, she broke the school record in the mile.
Van Buskirk was not the only athlete who had a successful experience at the meet. Senior Devotia Moore, junior Cydney Ross, sophomore Juliet Bottorff and freshman Rebecca Craigie competed in the women’s distance medley relay and combined for an 11th place finish, earning second team All-American. Senior Amy Fryt and freshman Tanner Anderson, who represented Duke in the pole vault and high jump, respectively, made second team All-American as well. Sophomore Curtis Beach earned the same honor with his 13th place finish in the men’s heptathlon.
The NCAA meet marked the end of an impressive indoor season for the Blue Devils, during which several school records fell, and athletes set personal records at each meet. Van Buskirk contributed to this success, setting a collegiate record in the 1000-meter and personal bests in all of her events.
“I’m always really honored to put on a Blue Devil singlet,” Van Buskirk said. “I try to represent my school with pride, and I think I did that this [past] weekend. It was a great meet for the Blue Devils and I look forward to the start of the outdoor season.”
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