DES MOINES, Iowa. - Duke track and field got off to a fast start and closed day one in style when sophomore Juliet Bottorff crossed the finish line in first place becoming the 2011 NCAA women's 10k champion.
This is the first outdoor women's champion in the history of Duke track and field and the first champion since Shannon Rowbury won the indoor mile in 2006.
Bottorff pushed out in what she described as a tactical race.
"The race wasn't going all that fast. I'm sure everyone out there in that field had run faster than that. It was going to be a tactical race and come down to a kick, so just kinda wait as long as I needed to."
She held strong with the lead pack through the majority of the race as others began to drop off one by one. With 600 left to go, Bottorff sat in third and began to make her move. She drove to the outside and picked up the pace. As the lead runners tried to keep up, Bottorff kicked it into another gear and came around the final 400 in 67 seconds.
Upon reflecting on what is next, Bottorff simply stated that the victory still hasn't sunk in yet. With her season coming to a close she plans to recover and reevaluate her goals next year when cross-country comes around.
Also running in the 10k was junior Carly Seymour. Seymour ran strong for the first half of the race, but a nagging foot injury caused the coaches to pull her to prevent any further damage that could comprise the young star's career.
The day started almost as fast as it ended when Curtis Beach set a new personal best of 10.78 in the decathlon 100m dash, which netted him 910 points. After the best 100 of his Duke career, Beach took his speed to the long jump runway and picked up 900 additional points when he jumped 24'1.75", a few inches short of his IC4A winning personal best of 24'3.25", moving him into fifth place. Beach was able to manage the shot put, considered one of his weaker events, with a 39'7" throw good for 611 points.
Beach dropped into ninth after the shot but was able to literally leap back into fifth place with 822 points when he cleared 6'7.5" on his third attempt in the high jump. In his final event of the day, Beach, running from lane eight, got out early and led the final heat of the 400 to a time of 46.9. Beach ended day one sitting in second place with 4206 points, only 65 behind Clemson's Miller Moss.
Javelin thrower John Austin was the next athlete to compete for Duke. Austin, who captured All-America accolades last time he threw at Drake in 2008, had his first throw marked foul on a misstep, and came back with a strong toss of 228'11" on his third round throw to take ninth in his flight. His mark, which would have netted him All-America honors in any of the past four year Austin has been with Duke, unfortunately was only good for 14th place.
The third event for Duke was the women's 800m. Cydney Ross, who has had an outstanding indoor and outdoor season, started from lane one and despite her efforts was boxed in by the second curve. With a bunched pack that came through the 400 in 1:01.4, Ross made her move with 250 meters to go and freed herself to the outside.
Running with the leader, Ross finished with a time of 2:04.79, breaking her own school record, qualifying for finals, securing All-America honors and hitting the USATF "A" standard, automatically qualifying her for the USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Ross will run in the finals on Friday at 7:10 pm.
Ryan McDermott also ran his way into the finals by finishing sixth in his heat in the men's 3k steeplechase prelims. McDermott went out with the pack and never let them push to far ahead. With two laps to go, as the leaders began to separate, McDermott moved with them, but never tapped into his reserves, running a smart, calculated 8:49.84.
Day two kicks off tomorrow with the start of day two in the decathlon followed by Andrea Hopkins and Shannon Sullivan in the javelin throw, Kate Van Buskirk in the 1,500m prelims and Bo Waggoner in the men's 10k to close out the day.