Published May 25. 2014 4:00AM
Delaware, Ohio - Connecticut College's Michael LeDuc went out in style.
The most accomplished track and field athlete in the history of the school, the senior ended his career by successfully defending his 3,000-meter steeplechase title at the NCAA Division III Championships on Saturday at Ohio Wesleyan University.
And not only did he win the second national championship of his senior season, LeDuc shattered his own school record, set a facility record at Shelby Stadium and ran the third fastest time in Division III history (8 minutes, 45.77 seconds). Jim Gathje of St. John's (Minn.) holds the record, running 8:43.93 in the 1986 NCAA final.
LeDuc was also never challenged, finishing nearly eight seconds ahead of runnerup Dawson Miller of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
"Mike got out really fast today as planned," Conn head coach Ned Bishop said. "He ran the first lap in 65 seconds, which was even faster than what we had hoped 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 won the NCAA Division III cross country championship in the fall, graduates from Conn with a combined nine All-American performances in cross country and track.
"This is the end of the Michael LeDuc era at Connecticut College," said associate head coach Jim Butler, who works exclusively with Conn's distance runners. "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."
Another major highlight of his career came this spring when he stunned a field of Division I athletes to win the 3,000 steeplechase at the prestigious Penn Relays at Franklin Field in Philadelphia on April 24. LeDuc ran a 8:47.94 that day to finish nearly six seconds ahead of Texas A&M's Isaac Spencer.
"I absolutely loved representing Connecticut College on and off the track and I am proud to be a Connecticut College graduate," LeDuc said following his final collegiate race Saturday. "I'm glad today's race wasn't as dramatic as last year. I really felt like an underdog last year.
"We had higher expectations this year, but I didn't change my approach to go out hard. I was trying to run between 69 seconds and 70 seconds a lap and I accomplished that goal. I don't think I could have had better coaches. 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."
LeDuc was one of four athletes with local ties to compete in championship events on Saturday.
Adam Scalesse became the most decorated Coast Guard Academy track and field athlete in school history by placing third in the 110 high hurdles in 14.34. Scalesse became an All-American for the sixth time, surpassing the old record of five previously set by former pole vaulter Drew Orsinger. He placed third in the same event in 2013.
In addition, Coast Guard junior Beth Gollin placed 13th in the women's 3,000 steeplechase in 11:03.64 while East Lyme's Brianna Mirecki, a recent graduate of Williams College, placed 14th in the same event in 11:10.75.