ChronSports' Top 10 of 2023 — No. 8: Amina Maatoug sets and shatters record upon record for Duke cross country, track and field

Amina Maatoug celebrates her second-place finish at the 2023 ACC Championships.
Amina Maatoug celebrates her second-place finish at the 2023 ACC Championships.

As the bow gets tied on 2023, The Chronicle’s sports department is reviewing the biggest storylines in Duke athletics throughout the year. Each day until the calendar flips to January, we will cover two of the most significant moments in Blue Devil sports from 2023.

At No. 8: Amina Maatoug, in her second year with Duke cross country/track and field, improved mightily on an already impressive first season, finishing fifth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and ninth at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, on top of numerous school and personal records. For the full list, click here.

Amina Maatoug had already proven herself as an accomplished runner prior to coming to Duke. The 21-year-old from Leiden, Netherlands, worked her way to becoming the 2021 Dutch U20 Cross Country National Champion. And in her very first race as a Blue Devil, the 2022 Virginia Invitational, she brought a gold medal back to Durham in the 5k. Everyone involved knew that was only the beginning for the Dutch superstar.

“I think the sky’s the limit [for] what she can do,” head coach Angela Reckart said.

Following her first cross country season as a Blue Devil, Maatoug went on a tear through the indoor and outdoor track and field seasons, finishing in fifth place at the NCAA Championships in the 5000m finals. Up to that point, the runner had already broken four other program records, including the 3000m, the 1500m, the distance medley relay and the mile. The historic performance in the 5000m finals represented Maatoug’s personal best and the program record during the runner’s first year in Durham. 

Maatoug’s monumental performances through her first three seasons at Duke naturally imposed lofty expectations for the runner’s 2023 cross country season. 

“She is on a mission this year,” Reckart said. 

And the junior runner proved once again that she can achieve the ambitious goals set before her. In this year’s ACC Championships, Maatoug finished in second place — the best finish by a Blue Devil since 2013. She continued her streak and finished as the runner-up in the NCAA Southwest Regional, automatically earning her a spot at the NCAA Championships. Neither Duke’s men’s nor women’s teams qualified as a group, and no male runner qualified individually. Maatoug was the sole Blue Devil representing her school at the championship meet in Charlottesville, Va.

She returned to the NCAA Championships for the second season in a row after earning a 28th-place finish in 2022’s season finale. Alongside her this fall were many runners who finished in the top 10 the year before, including dominant names such as Florida’s Parker Valby and N.C. State’s Katelyn Tuohy. These runners did not intimidate the Dutch champion, though, but rather gave her a pace to chase down. 

“I mean, everyone’s beatable,” Maatoug said.

The runner’s fearless spirit showed throughout the championship race as the Blue Devil rose in positioning as the event progressed, crossing the 2k mark in 19th place and the 4k mark in 14th. Maatoug continued to gain ground as she found herself in 12th place with 1000 meters to go. It was only in the final moments of the race where Maatoug pushed herself into the top 10 to finish the NCAA Championships in ninth with a time of 19:29.9.

The runner’s late-race heroics earned her the first ever top-10 finish in the national championships by a Blue Devil and placed her 19 spots higher than her championship finish the year prior. 

“I had a lot of fun,” she said of the race. It seems that breaking school records is Maatoug’s idea of a good time. 

Thus far in the 2023-24 indoor track season, Maatoug has continued to let her dominance shine. At the season opener, the junior placed third overall in the 3000m with a time of 8:46. With her finish, she broke the school record — the record she set last season. 

Heading into the new year, the standout Blue Devil looks towards an indoor and outdoor track season to add more achievements to her already impressive resume.

“Nothing is guaranteed,” she said. “You have to perform when it matters.”

But if history repeats itself, the magnificent Maatoug will continue to push her limits and make Duke history throughout 2024.

Read more:

Maatoug's 5th-place finish the highlight as Duke track and field closes 2023 season at NCAA Championships

'Really proud': Duke cross country's Amina Maatoug keeps setting records in top-10 finish at NCAA Championships

After her second-place finish at ACC Championships, Amina Maatoug's ceiling keeps rising

'Sky’s the limit': Maatoug delivers historic performance as Duke cross country flashes potential at ACC Championships

'I just love to run': Meet Amina Maatoug: Duke cross country's speedy, smiley Dutch superstar


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