LA CROSSE, Wis.--Connecticut College junior Michael LeDuc (Canton, Conn.) has captured the College's third NCAA Championship today. LeDuc topped his own school record with a time of 8:50.58 in the 3000 meter steeplechase.
LeDuc, the #2 seed, held off Jack Davies at the finish line, crossing the line just .08 seconds in front of the top seeded Davies of Middlebury College.
"I'm kind of shocked that it happened," LeDuc said. "I knew that Davies was going to catch me and he did. He's just a great closer. I just tried to get out to a lead. When he closed in on me and took the lead I was trying to hold on for dear life and I was able to give it that last burst at the end. But Jack and I had the best two times coming in. I was confident that if I ran my best, he would be the only guy who could keep up with me,"
Before that final frenetic finish, LeDuc hit the last barrier on the course but was able to regain his balance and make that last push for the victory. It was the first time he had hit a barrier all year.
As of 8:40 p.m. EST, the Camels were in six-way tie for 22nd place in the country with LeDuc's 10 points.
"Mike's time in the finals today was the fastest time in the country this year and the sixth fastest finish in Division III history," Connecticut College Associate Head Track Coach/Head Men's Cross Country Coach Jim Butler said with pride.
"At the end of last season, we had set goals for Mike to win a national championship and to run 8:50 or better in the steeple. He accomplished both of those objectives."
Connecticut College Head Track & Field Coach/Head Women's Cross Country Coach Ned Bishop was pleased with LeDuc's achievement, the second NCAA Title for the improving track and field program.
"We're really, really proud of Mike," Bishop said. "He ran great. It was four years ago that Alex won his national so hopefully it will be a lot less than four years before we win the next one."
LeDuc credited his coaches for everything that they have done to prepare him for championship competition.
"My high school coach Tim O'Donnell and Coach Butler have both been terrific at motivating me so it was really a seamless transition for me when I started running at Connecticut College," LeDuc said. "I could not have done this without the support and guidance I received from Coach O'Donnell, Coach Butler and Coach Bishop."
This is the first NCAA Championship for the Camel athletic program since Alex Samma '10 (Ougadougou, Burkina Faso) captured his title in the triple jump at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championship back in March of 2009.
Kate Kovenock '05 (Orono, Maine) won the school's first NCAA title in 2004, posting a time of 23.32 seconds in the 50 yard freestyle at the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championship.
LeDuc also ran the 5000 meters at the NCAA Championship today and finished 18th in that run with a time of 14:56.11.
Back on April 5, LeDuc posted what was a school record setting time of 8:54.80 en route to his second place scoring in the 3000 meter steeplechase at the Sam Howell Distance Invitational hosted by Princeton University.
LeDuc successfully defended his New England Division III crown in the 5000 meters at Colby College May 4, shattering a facility record that had stood for more than two decades with a time of 14:30.03.
Back in March, LeDuc earned All-America honors for the fourth time in his career at the 2013 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championship, posting a time of 14:31.80 en route to his third place finish at North Central College.
This past fall, LeDuc turned in an All-American performance with a 13th place finish in 24:48 at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championship hosted by the Rose-Holman Institute of Technology. It established a program record for the highest finish for a Connecticut College men's cross country runner at a national championship.
LeDuc has been honored on the first team of the All-New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Men's Cross Country squad in each of the past three years.
In June of 2012, LeDuc was named to the Capital One Academic All-America Men's Cross Country/Track & Field Third Team in Division III as selected by The College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
LeDuc garnered All-America accolades in the 3000 meter steeplechase at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship in Claremont, Calif. He posted a school record setting time of 8:59.54 en route to a fourth place finish, moving up two spots from his All-America finish in 2011.
In the classroom, the botany major has been recognized on the NESCAC All-Academic Team during the past six seasons.