Connecticut College senior Michael LeDuc of Canton ended his collegiate career Saturday with his third NCAA national championship.
LeDuc easily won the 3,000 meter steeplechase at the NCAA Division III outdoor track and field championships here at Selby Stadium on the campus of Ohio Wesleyan in Delaware, Ohio, winning by nearly eight seconds.
It was the second straight steeplechase national title for LeDuc. A year ago, he hit the final three-foot high barrier in the race. But he rallied to catch Middlebury’s Jack Davies in the final 70 meters to win the race by 0.08 of a second with a then-school record time of 8:50.58.
On Saturday, there was little drama. He posted a school record time of 8:45.77, setting a new facility record at Shelby Stadium and running the third fastest time in NCAA Division III history in the event. LeDuc shaved 2.17 seconds off his winning performance in April from the Penn Relays. Dawson Miller from Wisconsin-Whitewater was second in 8:53.44.
“Mike got out really fast today as planned,” said Ned Bishop, Connecticut College’s head coach in track and field. “He ran the first lap in 65 seconds which was even faster than what we had hope he would do. Not many runners can say that they are a four-time NCAA All-American and a two-time national champion in the same event. He finished the season undefeated and we’re really proud of him.”
LeDuc, who graduates from the school with a degree in botany, was pleased with his performance. Along with this two steeplechase national titles, he won the NCAA Division III crown in cross country last fall. He has earned All-American honors nine times in his career.
“I absolutely loved representing Connecticut College on and off the track and I am proud to be a Connecticut College graduate.” LeDuc said. “I’m glad today’s race wasn’t as dramatic as last year. I really felt like an underdog last year. I knew Jack Davies and how good he was.
“We had higher expectations this year but I didn’t change my approach to go out hard,” LeDuc said. “I was trying to run between 69 seconds and 70 seconds a lap and I accomplished that goal.”
LeDuc earned All-American honors in steeplechase four times. He is a two-time All-American in cross country and a two-time All-American in the 5,000 meters indoors. He also earned All-American honors in the 3,000 meters indoors.
“I don’t think I could have had better coaches,” LeDuc said. “They have been so supportive and informative. They kept my expectations very high all the way through and I could not have done it without them.”
“This is the end of the Michael LeDuc era at Connecticut College,” said Jim Butler, an associate track and field coach at Conn College. “It’s starting to sink in that I won’t be able to coach him next year Michael is a class act and he deserves all the winning and recognition that goes with it. Everybody here kept wishing him well all week. But he did not let the hype get to him. He met and exceeded everyone’s expectations today.”
He is the first Connecticut College athlete to win three national titles. LeDuc, who graduated from Canton in 2010, was an All-State athlete in cross country and in track and field.
NCAA Division III All-American honors
Outdoor track (4)
2014: 1st place, national champion, 3,000 steeplchase
2013: 1st place, national champion, 3,000 steeplechase
2012: 4th place, 3,000 steeplechase
2011: 6th place, 3,000 steeplechase
Indoor track (3)
2013: 3rd place 5,000 meters
2014: 4th place 3,000 meters
2014: 7th place 5,000 meters
Cross Country (2)
2013: 1st place, national champion
2012: 13th place (top 15 earn All-American honors)
Division III New England championships
2014: 1,500 meters, outdoor track
2013: 5000 meters, outdoor track
2012: 5000 meters, outdoor track