Greg Grippo's time on Season 17 of The Bachelorette ended in nail-biting fashion, as Grippo, who had won the first impression rose and was clearly a frontrunner for Bachelorette Katie Thurston's heart from the start, confessed his love for Thurston in the all-important hometown dates. His baring of his heart did not go as planned, however, and the second-to-last episode ended with a fight about honesty between the two and Grippo ultimately leaving the show.
In some ways, Duke men's basketball's Tuesday night matchup against Clemson ended similarly. As the clock ticked down and the Tigers kept clawing their way back into contention, even taking the lead at times, the ninth-ranked Blue Devils likely also looked at this game against a team that was 3-5 in the ACC coming in and thought, this did not go as planned. While Duke won in the end by a narrow 71-69 margin, the game was not decided till the final moments, much like Thurston's season of the Bachelorette.
Coincidentally, Grippo, along with fellow Season 17 contestants Andrew Spencer and Mikey Planeta, were in Cameron Indoor Stadium Tuesday to watch the Blue Devils take down the Tigers.
Making the trip to the game from Nashville, Tenn., where they were celebrating Spencer's birthday Jan. 20, the trio enjoyed star treatment in Durham.
During the game, they did a takeover of the Duke Athletics Instagram account from their seats just a few rows behind Duke's bench, a great spot to see all of the exciting action from Tuesday night. One highlight from the takeover was a collaborative poem from Spencer and Grippo that went, "Roses are red, Duke is Blue, Paolo Banchero can really hoop." They also sang the praises of the Cameron Crazies in the student section and snapped a picture with assistant coach Nolan Smith.
While Blue Devil faithful may not have known the trio would be there, Bachelor Nation did as early as Monday afternoon when Grippo posted a photo of himself, Spencer and Planeta in a car with the caption, "Just a quick 6 hour road trip to Durham."
Meanwhile, on Planeta's story, they asked for questions to answer on the road trip. One of the questions asked why they were going to Durham, to which Planeta posted a video of Spencer saying it was to go to the Duke men's basketball game in Coach K's last season.
Word that the Bachelorette fan favorites would be making their way to campus spread quickly amongst Duke students. Pictures with them cropped up on social media all throughout Tuesday, including a picture with the Krzyzewskiville Line Monitors posted to the official K-Ville Instagram account, and text messages circulated about their alleged whereabouts. Among students, the excitement for their attendance was palpable.
For Grippo, Spencer and Planeta themselves, however, there was maybe even more excitement. Prior to the game, they posted videos of themselves shooting around in Cameron, with Planeta even calling it a "dream come true."
While they may not have played basketball at Duke, all three had successful athletic careers of their own.
Planeta was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 2009 after one season at Glendale Community College. He then played five seasons in the minors, where the right fielder amassed seven homeruns and a .238 batting average over 1,438 at bats. His career doesn't end there, though. Immediately after departing the Orioles' organization, Planeta joined the men's basketball team at Point Loma Nazarene University, where, by his final season in his junior year, he was a regular starter who averaged 10.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.
However, Planeta is not the only college hoops player of the trio. Grippo played four years at St. Michael's College, and was a captain of the Division II team in his senior year, starting all 26 games and averaging 11.1 points and 2.2 assists per game.
And while Spencer is the only one of the three to not play basketball, he did have a very successful collegiate athletic career playing football at Winona State. As a senior, Spencer, a defensive back, led his team to its first NCAA Division II playoff appearance in 10 years, and collected a team-high 83 solo tackles. That season, he also led all Division II players with 217 interception return yards, setting a single-season program record in the process. Because of his efforts, Spencer was named an AFCA First Team All-American, a D2CCA First Team All-American, the Don Hansen Super Region Four Defensive Player of the Year and the NSIC Defensive Player of the year, among other awards.
Clearly, the trio were at home in an athletic setting.
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Sasha Richie is a Trinity senior and a sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.