After attending Northern Iowa University as a freshman, Alex Duff and several others transferred once UNI’s hurdles coach left for Iowa State.
Instead of going to another Division I school, the 2016 Oregon High School graduate returned to his home state and became a star at D-III Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Duff was one of 12 Warhawks (and one of 11 Wisconsin natives on the team) who earned All-America honors for the 2020 indoor season from the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
The senior was an All-American in four events in 2018 (60-, 110- and 400-meter hurdles and heptathlon) and earned the same honor in the 60 hurdles his final two years at Whitewater.
“It shows all the hard work paid off,” Duff said. “It takes a lot of practice and good coaching. The coaching staffs at UNI and Whitewater really helped me get to where I am today.”
All 12 of Whitewater’s All-Americans qualified for the D-III Indoor Championships, which were originally scheduled for March 13-14 at JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Duff and his teammates practiced on the morning of March 12 in anticipation of competing in a meet without fans. UWW head coach Mike Johnson gathered the team together later in the evening
and told the team of the NCAA’s decision to cancel the meet and remainder of the spring season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Duff, who posted a season-best time of 8.17 seconds in the 60 hurdles, was seeking his third straight top-eight finish in the event at the national championships. The senior hurdler also finished his collegiate career as a five-time USTFCCCA All-Midwest Region selection (2018 and 2019 indoor and outdoor, 2020 indoor).
Duff won Badger South Conference championships in the 110 and 300 hurdles, 400-meter dash and triple jump at Oregon. He finished third in the 300-meter hurdles as a junior, but saved his best prep season for last.
Duff won three medals at the 2016 Division 1 state track and field meet – capturing gold in the 300 hurdles, silver in the 110 hurdles and bronze as a member of the Panthers’ 1,600-meter relay team.
He made an immediate impact upon arriving at Whitewater, establishing school records in the heptathlon (5,109 points) and 400 hurdles (51.62) his sophomore year. He tied the school record in the 110 hurdles (14.27) as a junior.
Duff was a two-time Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champion and first team all-WIAC selection in the 400 hurdles (2018) and 110 hurdles (2019). He was named second team all-WIAC in the 60- and 110 hurdles as a sophomore and honorable mention all-conference in the 60 hurdles as a junior.
“My coaches at UNI and Whitewater cared so much about me and my teammates,” Duff said. “They believed in my ability probably more than I did.”
A biology major, Duff is on pace to earn a Bachelor’s degree from UWW in December.