The Chronicle's top 10 stories of 2023 in Duke athletics

2023 was a year of immesurable highs and devastating lows for the Blue Devils, from deep postseason runs to coaching changes to upset wins and conference championships.
2023 was a year of immesurable highs and devastating lows for the Blue Devils, from deep postseason runs to coaching changes to upset wins and conference 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.

No. 10: Duke baseball charges to NCAA Super Regional after breakout campaign

"Coming into the month of April, head coach Chris Pollard’s team had the look of a bubble team, handling the teams they were supposed to but inevitably falling in series against superior opponents. However, this fortune turned around in the last two months of the regular season, where Duke proved its worth as a contender in the ACC and nationally." -Caleb Dudley

No. 9: After Duke football's undefeated start, school hosts first-ever appearance from ESPN College GameDay

"By the time the sun rose on Sept. 30, Abele Quad had transformed into a television set. Metal scaffolding and lights covered the bus circle, sponsor tents littered the lawn and sign-bearing students waited breathlessly behind metal fences for the show to begin. ESPN’s College GameDay had arrived in Durham for the first time in its history – and the Blue Devils spared no energy or enthusiasm in their welcome." -Abby DiSalvo

No. 8: Amina Maatoug sets and shatters record upon record for Duke cross country, track and field

"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." -Colton Schwabe

No. 7: Mike Elko leaves Duke football for Texas A&M, causing widespread fallout on transfers, coaches

"On Saturday, Nov. 25, Duke was riding a high: fresh off of a short-handed victory against Pittsburgh, the Blue Devils moved to 7-5 with just a bowl game remaining in head coach Mike Elko’s second season in blue. What the Blue Devil faithful did not realize, however, was that the good times would not keep rolling. Under 24 hours later, Elko made further national headlines, not for his coaching abilities nor Duke’s successes on the gridiron, but for his rumored coaching switch to Texas A&M." -Garrett Spooner

No. 6: Duke women's track and field smashes ACC Championship record in first outright team win

"After their narrow loss to Virginia Tech at ACC indoors, the women of Duke track and field came back with a roaring vengeance in May, shattering the ACC Outdoor Championship record with 145.5 points — a whopping 61 points ahead of the runner-up Hokies. Over the course of the three-day event at N.C. State’s Paul Derr Track and Field Facility, the Blue Devils as a whole brought home 21 medals and 35 All-ACC honors on the way to the women’s second and first outright ACC Outdoor Championship title." -Prithvi Kotapati

No. 5: Duke softball hosts first-ever NCAA Super Regional, Curd throws no-hitter in ACC tournament semifinals

"Curd’s was the first no-hitter in ACC tournament history by a rookie, and one of the most important moments of the young program’s history. The past season marked the fifth full season of Duke softball, and although the team eventually fell to Florida State in the ACC title game, it continued a trend of three strong seasons in a row. In 2021 and 2022, the Blue Devils finished first and third in the ACC tournament, respectively. Over that span, Young’s teams have a combined 136-35 record, good for a .795 winning percentage. After ACC tournament play, Duke went to its second NCAA Super Regional in as many years, but fell to No. 9-seed Stanford in back-to-back games. But the history, just like Curd’s no-hitter in the ACC semis, was in the fact that the series was also Duke’s first time ever hosting a Super Regional." -Myles Powicki

No. 4: Duke field hockey conducts miraculous turnaround season, makes Final Four for first time since 2015

"Following the 2022 season, Duke was not expected to have the season it did in 2023. Going without a win in the ACC in 2022, the Blue Devils’ chances of even making the NCAA tournament were up in the air. Needless to say, the Cinderella season that followed surprised almost everyone. After soaring to the ACC Championship game in Charlottesville, Va., and falling to North Carolina, Duke headed into the NCAA tournament with redemption in mind. After a first-round defeat of American at home, the Blue Devils took on Syracuse in an attempt to reach their first Final Four since 2015. And they succeeded." -Anna Newberry

No. 3: Brennan O'Neill wins Tewaaraton Award as Duke men's lacrosse wins ACC title, reaches NCAA Championship game

"Duke must have taken its shock exclusion from the Big Dance in 2022 to heart, because 2023 was an absolute disco at Koskinen Stadium. Headlined by a slew of important returners, including senior defender Kenny Brewer, junior FOGO Jake Nash and the attacking trio of Dyson Williams, Andrew McAdorey and Brennan O'Neill, the Blue Devils were a different beast from start to finish this year. They began by ripping apart Bellarmine in their season opener ahead of a road win against then-No. 1 Virginia and an ACC regular season title sealed at home against Syracuse, culminating in a dominant 16-3 record. But the principal accolades of their historic season were made to wait until its conclusion." -Andrew Long

No. 2: Duke men's basketball takes home ACC tournament title in Scheyer's first season as head coach

"On Feb. 11, Duke was tied up against then-No. 8-ranked Virginia with 1.2 seconds left in regulation. Then-freshman center Kyle Filipowski went up for a layup and initially earned a foul call, only for it to be waved off. The Blue Devils would go on to lose in overtime, and the ACC would later announce an “incorrect adjudication” on the call. This defeat put Duke at 8-6 in the conference, furthering doubts about its ability to recapture its winning ways of old. Little did anyone know, it was exactly the motivation Duke needed to right the ship." -Tyler Walley

No. 1: Duke football steamrolls No. 9 Clemson on opening night in historic upset, causing field-storming

"As the sun set on Labor Day and the lights of Wallace Wade Stadium rose, Duke embarked on a new journey. The Blue Devils were coming off a year of improvement, where a 9-4 record and bowl victory reflected a turning of the tides within the program. With several key players returning, hype was growing around head coach Mike Elko’s team, and students and fans hoped the upward trend would continue into the 2023 season. The first test of that campaign loomed large, though, as Clemson came to town. Head coach Dabo Swinney’s Tigers had been something of a dynasty in the ACC for nearly a decade, winning seven of the last eight conference titles. Being picked by many to win the conference again and ranked No. 9 in the nation, it was clear Duke would have its hands full with Clemson, but despite the tough matchup, there were whispers of hope for a possible upset." -Ryan Hamner


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