Six Blue Devil men headed to New York Saturday to compete in the most renowned meet of their season, the Millrose Games. Since 1908, top competitors from all over the world have gathered at the meet for the chance to face off against each other. This past weekend, some of Duke’s best athletes got the chance to go head-to-head with some of the toughest competition in the world, and several found success.
The day began with a first-place finish in the collegiate 3000m from senior Andrew Brodeur. Brodeur’s time of 8:10.27, a personal record for the senior, was good enough for the fourth-place spot on Duke’s all-time list.
Later on, sophomore Tanner Anderson mirrored Brodeur’s success by taking first place in the collegiate high jump. Anderson’s jump of 7’1” was only his second jump of the season, and the first time he had cleared 7’ this year.
Despite his successful competition, Anderson’s day did not end after his jump. The sophomore had been chosen to compete against some of the world’s best field athletes, including reigning high jump world champion Jesse Williams.
Anderson and Williams have a history that reaches back to their high school days. As a high school athlete in 2010, Anderson took down Willams’ North Carolina high school record in the high jump, but until this weekend, the two had yet to compete against each other. The Millrose Games were not their first meeting however, as Anderson got the chance to see Williams compete in person at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., in June of 2011. The soon-to-be world champion had greeted Anderson then and offered some encouragement and inspiration to the Blue Devil.
On Saturday, Williams once again played a key role in encouraging Anderson. After missing his first two attempts at clearing his opening height, Anderson paused for a moment before making his third attempt and heard Williams cheer him on.
“I heard, from behind me, Jesse yell ‘Let’s go Tanner, let’s go. You’ve got to get up,’” Anderson said. “I just stopped and thought ‘Oh my gosh, the reigning world champion is cheering for me!’”
Williams’ encouragement proved to be just what Anderson needed. The Blue Devil cleared his next attempt and took sixth place, while Williams showed why he was the world champion, taking first and breaking the Armory record of 7’-7.25” set by Nathan Leeper in 2002.
The rest of the Blue Devil men at the meet, Stephen Clark, Ben Raskin, Nate McClafferty and Domenick DeMatteo, also stepped up this past weekend as they competed in the Byron Dyce college men’s distance medley relay. Their time of 9:52.96, a season best, was good for a fifth-place finish at the meet.
In contrast to the men, the women did not travel to New York. Instead, two members of the Blue Devil squad, seniors Suejin Ahn and Carly Seymour, traveled to Boston, Mass. to compete in the Valentine Invitational. The meet was a season debut for the seniors, who both showed that they were more than ready to start competing again.
The night was especially meaningful for Seymour, who sat out the 2011 season due to injury. In her first competition in almost eight months, the senior took third place in the 5000m with a personal best time 16:24.74.
Ahn, who also had a successful start to her 2012 season, crossed the finish line for the 3000m in 9:40.65, taking 12th overall. Both the Duke women and their coaches expressed pleasure with their results.
Although all the Blue Devils who competed this weekend left the track looking forward to future competitions, and some, like Anderson, have major competitions down the road, they are content with their results this weekend.
“I had a really good experience,” Anderson said. “I got to jump against some of the best people in the world before Olympic Trials. Of course [reaching the Olympic Trials] is my ultimate goal, but for now I think it’s best to just take it one meet at a time.”
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