DELAWARE, Ohio – It didn't seem like it could get much better for Salisbury University sophomore Luke Campbell. In just a year in a half of competing at the collegiate level in track & field, the hurdler had claimed two national championships and four All-American awards.
On Saturday, at the NCAA Division III Track & Field Championships, the Brunswick, Md., native did something no one in school history has done, winning two national championships in the same day, and setting two school records along the way.
"It's crazy to think about it," Campbell said after his record-setting day. "It's all a dream come true for me."
Campbell is not just making his mark on the Salisbury record books, but the NCAA's books as well, as his winning times in the 110- and 400-meter hurdles on Saturday were among the best times ever recorded by a Division III student-athlete.
The day began with the 110-meter hurdles, in the mid-afternoon, and fittingly it was in the middle of the race that Campbell took over. He was even off the line and neck-and-neck with two other runners at the middle point of the run.
"It was all about staying clean through the hurdles and running through them," he said. "I knew whoever made the least mistakes would be the winner."
Campbell stayed clean throughout the race, barely touching any of the hurdles, and appeared to go to an extra gear in the final 50 meters, running away from the field to post the third-fastest time in Division III history. He was nearly half-a-second faster than the next-closest competitor, crossing the line in a school-record time of 13.82 seconds.
Marietta College's Ryan Lopez-Jordan placed second in the field, in 14.14 seconds.
Any national championship is special, and Campbell's third was a defense of the 110-meter hurdles which he won as a freshman, but he had just 90 minutes to regroup and focus on his next task, the 400-meter hurdles.
That 90 minutes was filled with interviews and receiving his award for the 110 win, leaving him little down time to prepare for the next race. He was still on the runner's high, and needed to remain calm to prepare for the next challenge.
He entered the week as the fourth-seeded runner in the 400-meter hurdles, and ran the fastest time in qualifying, but needed to improve on that time for the national title. The four-time champion broke the school record, and ran the fourth-fastest time in Division III history, winning by more than half a second, with a time of 50.36 seconds.
"There was a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders going across that finish line," Campbell said. "Everything that you work for, all the goals that you set for yourself, all the preparing comes down to this. It was just amazing."
Campbell's next-closest competitor was Augustana College's David Voland, who completed the race in 50.88 seconds.
The 20 points that Campbell earned for the two wins was good for a 12th-place finish for the men's team, as the University of Mount Union claimed the team title, with 47 points.
Campbell's four individual sport titles are the most by any student-athlete in school history, and the six All-American awards he has earned in his two seasons are just one shy of Delannie Spriggs, who collected seven from 2007-2010.
He is now in a select group of just 54 Division III student-athletes who have won three or more outdoor national championships in their career, with two more seasons of eligibility remaining.
The track & field programs have now collected 11 individual national championships, all coming in the past six seasons.