Michael LeDuc '14 wins NCAA cross country championship
Raising his arm in victory as he crossed the finish line Saturday, senior Michael LeDuc became the first camel to win a national cross country championship.
LeDuc posted a time of 24:29 on the 8k course at the NCAA Division III Men’s Cross Country Championship at Hanover College to win by four seconds. The finish was the second fastest in course history and almost a full minute faster than LeDuc’s winning time of 25:22 at the pre-national race Oct. 5.
It is the second time in seven months LeDuc has stood atop the NCAA; in May, he won the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Division III Men’s Track and Field Championship.
“He ran the table, winning our home invitational, the NESCAC [New England Small College Athletic Conference] Championship, the Division III Regional and capped it off by winning the NCAA Championship today,” head coach Jim Butler said. “That's quite a special season.”
Butler said LeDuc's plan for the race was to be near the front early, and he was able to stick with the pack in the early stages of the race. As the runners approached the outer loop just before the three mile mark, he closed the gap on John Crain of North Central College. Crain and LeDuc were running neck and neck at each recorded split from 2k through the seventh kilometer.
But in the home stretch, with about 350 meters to go, LeDuc put his head down and was able to put four seconds on Crain. It was a lead he would not relinquish. Crain finished the race in 24:33 as the runner up.
“I was surprised at how fast the pace was early in the race, but I guess it's to be expected at a National Championship,” LeDuc said.
As LeDuc approached the finish line, Camel fans were joined in cheering him on by fans and participants from other NESCAC schools.
“It was really great to have the support of the entire region,” LeDuc said. “My thought process was that I had to win the race or show myself that I was physically incapable of doing so.”
Earlier this week, LeDuc was honored as the United States Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association of America (USTFCCCA) Division III Regional Athlete of the Year. Other honors for LeDuc, a botany major, include:
Member of the 2013 Capital One Academic Men's Cross Country/Track & Field First Team in Division III, as selected by The College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA)
A Scholar Athlete of the Year in Division III for the 2013 men's track and field season by the USTFCCCA
Member of the NESCAC All-Academic Team for each of the past six seasons