JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - In a matter of seconds, senior thrower Michael Barbas broke a 46 year old school record in the shot put, set a new personal best by 18 inches and qualified for the 2012 NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. Even though it took less than a minute for the Houston, Texas native to walk confidently into the ring and throw the record setting mark, it was a moment that was four years in the making.
"It's been four years, I am a senior, I've been training really hard and I feel stronger than I ever have," Barbas commented shortly after his historic performance. "I knew my body was ready and it was just a matter of putting it all together. Everyone that has been close to me in training knew that I was capable of throwing really far, much farther than I have been throwing. It was just a matter of putting it together and my last chance to put it together was here; it all just lined up. I was fortunate that I was able to put it all together."
In front of a large Duke cheering section that included his parents, teammates, coaches and fans, Barbas threw two personal records on his first three attempts in a meet that was potentially his last as a Blue Devil. His best mark of the day came on his third throw. When it was his turn, the recent graduate confidently walked into the ring and earned a mark of 60-8 (18.49), an 18 inch personal record and good enough to break the school record that was set in 1966 by Rod Stewart.
Barbas' mark held up through the final round and was good enough for tenth place overall and more importantly, a slot at the championship meet in two weeks.
"Mike has been working very hard for this," assistant coach B.J. Linnenbrink commented. I've worked with him for three years and I don't have anyone that puts in more effort or works harder than he does. I was incredibly excited when he hit that 18.49 today because I had a feeling that was going to get through and he has earned it more so than a lot of people."
The seven Blue Devils that will be joining the senior include: sophomore Michelle Anumba (shot put), sophomore Curtis Beach (800 and long jump), junior Juliet Bottorff (10,000), sophomore Erica Brand (discus), senior Amy Fryt (pole vault), junior Andrea Hopkins (javelin) and senior Cydney Ross (800).
"I am really pleased with how we performed this weekend," Director of Track and Field Norm Ogilvie commented. "We lost a lot of talent to graduation last year so to come back and qualify eight athletes for the national meet is great."
Several other Blue Devils performed on the final day of the 2012 NCAA First Round East Regional competition in Jacksonville, Fla. In the men's high jump, sophomore Tanner Anderson barely missed NCAA qualification by clearing 7-1 (2.16) which put him in 16th place. Fellow sophomore Michael Krone went out after battling through injury to clear 6-9 (2.07) and finish 35th on the day.
Other Blue Devil performances included sophomore Justin Amezquita clearing 15-11.75 (4.87) in his first NCAA First Round Championship to finish 43rd and sophomore Michelle Anumba earning a mark of 179-10 (54.83) in the women's hammer throw. The Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., native qualified in the shot put earlier in the weekend.
Sophomore Madeline Morgan finished the 5,000 in 16:40.11 which was put her in 18th place while freshman Morgan Pearson ran the same distance for the men and completed the distance in 14:46.22 and 39th place.
Duke will close out its season at the 2012 NCAA Championships on June 6-9 in Des Moines, Iowa. More information will be available closer to the event on www.GoDuke.com.