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‘Best finish ever’ for Duke

Senior Ryan McDermott (right) won his third straight 3k steeplechase at the ACC Championships, becoming the first Duke athlete to do so in 40 years.
Senior Ryan McDermott (right) won his third straight 3k steeplechase at the ACC Championships, becoming the first Duke athlete to do so in 40 years.

Duke is currently having its best outdoor season ever.

The Blue Devils closed out what director of track field Norm Ogilvie called the “best meet the program’s ever had” this past weekend, as both the women’s and men’s teams surpassed their previous point totals in the ACC Championships to finish fourth and fifth, respectively.

Duke athletes displayed an impressive all-around performance, with three winning ACC championships. Both the field and running events contributed large point totals to give the women their finishing score of 81.5 points, and the men theirs of 86.5. The highest previous score ever garnered by either of the teams occurred in 1973, when the Blue Devils finished with 63 points.

“We were leading the team race for a while, which is something we’ve never done before,” Ogilvie said. “We got people excited—they rose to the challenge. Everyone pulled together and competed with great intensity. It was simply the best meet the program’s ever had.”

It was also the best meet for a number of individual athletes, including senior Ryan McDermott, who became the only Duke athlete since the 1970s to win a third straight ACC Championship in the 3000-meter steeplechase. Fellow senior Kate Van Buskirk won her first-ever ACC Championship in the 1500-meter run. The Blue Devils’ third first-place finisher was sophomore Andrea Hopkins, who won the javelin with a throw of 47.28 meters.

Other Duke athletes also earned All-ACC honors. Leading the Blue Devils in the weekend’s first event, freshman Erica Brand threw 48.78 meters in the discus to come in second, while junior Carly Seymour placed third in the 10-kilometer race. Fellow distance runner Juliet Bottorff earned the team some additional points as well, placing second in the five-kilometer race.

Among the men, senior Mike Schallmo became Duke’s top-scoring individual, earning 14 points and finishing in second place in the discus. Also in the field, John Austin, Michael Barbas and Tanner Anderson finished in the top three for the javelin, shot put and high jump, respectively. Sophomore Curtis Beach, currently ranked 13th nationally in the decathlon, finished third this weekend to earn All-ACC honors. Senior Josh Lund also broke 14 minutes in the five-kilometer race, placing in the top three.

The rest of the Duke athletes also managed to break records and surprise their coaches with stellar performances. Senior Josh Brewer finished in fifth place in the 10-kilometer race, just behind his classmate Bo Waggoner. Brewer’s time of 29:53.69 represented a 45-second improvement for the senior, who, according to Ogilvie, ran with “passion, guts, and courage.”

The Blue Devils closed out a stellar weekend with 15 athletes ranked in the top 40 in the nation.

“All weekend we were doing a little better than we thought we could,” Ogilvie said. “It was a coach’s dream. There were so many examples of courageous running.... It was a total team effort for both the men and the women that produced our best result ever.”

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