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ACC Championships return to Wallace Wade

Senior Ryan McDermott will try to win his third consecutive ACC steeplechase title on Friday evening.
Senior Ryan McDermott will try to win his third consecutive ACC steeplechase title on Friday evening.

For the Duke seniors, the ACC Outdoor Championship’s return to Durham couldn’t come at a better time.

Today through Saturday, for the first time since 2000, the tournament will be held at Wallace Wade Stadium.

According to director of track and field Norm Ogilvie, this only heightens the excitement and anticipation for the meet.

“We’ve been looking forward to [hosting] for a number of years,” Ogilvie said. “It’s a great way for the senior class to go out.”

That senior class, which comprises 16 of Duke’s 30 competitors, shares Ogilvie’s enthusiasm.

“I think it’s a really awesome experience to have my final ACC meet hosted at Duke,” senior Kate Van Buskirk said. “It increases my pride for my school and my team.”

Van Buskirk plans to finally complete her medal collection by winning her first career gold at the ACC Championships. The senior will compete in the 1500-meter run, and has posted the year’s second-fastest ACC 800-meter time.

Like Van Buskirk, senior Ryan McDermott is gunning for a gold. Unlike his classmate, though, this would be his third straight title. On Friday, he could become the first Duke athlete since Roger Beardmore to win the 3000-meter steeplechase at the ACC meet three times, and he is looking forward to playing on his home turf.

“I’m excited for the ACC meet,” McDermott said. “I’m really pumped that I get to defend my title on my home track…I think it plays to my advantage…I won easily at the Duke Invite, which gives me confidence. I just feel comfortable running on this track.”

As for the pressure that comes with being the two-time defending champion, McDermott’s outlook is relaxed and self-assured.

“I feel confident in my fitness,” he said, “Confident that I can beat anyone who steps on the track in the steeplechase.”

Of course, the seniors are not the only Duke athletes that will be relied on to score major points over the weekend. On the opposite side of the spectrum is redshirt freshman Michelle Anumba, who will look to win a title in her first ACC Championship.

Anumba, ranked first in the shot put and seventh in the hammer throw, is just one of the many field athletes that have had impressive seasons. Joining her on the women’s side is sophomore Andrea Hopkins who is ranked first in the javelin, while Erica Brand, another successful freshman, sits at fourth in the discus.

On the men’s side, freshmen Tanner Anderson and Michael Krone are ranked fourth and eighth in the high jump, respectively. Senior Mike Schallmo and sophomore Austin Gamble hold the second and third spots for the discus, while in the shot put Schallmo holds third and junior Michael Barbas is ranked second.

As usual, Duke expects a strong showing in the running events where McDermott and Van Buskirk will pursue their respective titles. Sophomore Curtis Beach will make his debut for the Blue Devils in the 400-meter hurdles, running alongside several other Duke athletes ranked in the event.

“We expect a lot of points from the throws, and the men’s 5k and 10k are strong, as well as the 1500 with Kate Van Buskirk,” Ogilvie said. “The men and women are both equally capable of scoring more points than we’ve ever had before at an ACC Championship. We have a good chance of finishing in the top six teams.”

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