Conn's LeDuc wins national title in steeplechase

La Crosse, Wis. - Connecticut College junior Michael LeDuc captured the national championship in the 3,000-meter steeplechase on Saturday at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

LeDuc, who entered the race as the second seed, held off top-seeded Jack Davies of Middlebury College, crossing the finish line in 8 minutes, 50.58 seconds, just .08 seconds ahead of Davies.

He broke his own school record.

"I'm kind of shocked it happened," said LeDuc, who came back later Saturday night and finished 18th in the 5,000 (14:56.11). "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 (Davies) 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."

The national title was the first by a Conn athlete since Alex Samma won the triple jump at the NCAA indoor meet in 2009 and only the third in the history of the Conn College athletic program.

Kate Kovenock won the 2004 national title in the 50-yard freestyle at the NCAA Division III swimming and diving championships.

"We're really, really proud of Mike," Conn College coach Ned Bishop said. "He ran great. It was four years ago that Alex won his national title so hopefully it will be a lot less than four years before we win the next one."

It also was the fifth time LeDuc, who also runs cross country and indoor track, has earned All-America status.

"Mike's time in the finals was the fastest time in the country this year and the seventh fastest in Division III history," assistant coach Jim Butler said. "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."

LeDuc wasn't the only local athlete to earn All-America honors on Saturday.

Coast Guard Academy junior Adam Scalesse, the top-seed in the 110-meter high hurdles, placed third in 14.50 seconds to become an All-American for the third straight spring.

Freshman Luke Campbell of Salisbury won the race in 14.43 seconds and Marietta College's Ryan Lopez-Jordan was second in 14.44.

Scalesse's Coast Guard teammate, junior Ben Wolhaupter, earned All-America honors on Thursday night by placing eighth in the pole vault (15 feet, 7 inches).


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