When all was said and done, a bit of nervous energy and some unexpected twists resulted in a second straight NJCAA Division III National Championship for the Roadrunner Men's Track Team on Saturday.
The Roadrunners, who entered the championship meet as the No. 5 ranked team in Division III, once again held up high the national championship trophy at Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica, NY.
Thanks to some final day heroics by the men's shot put trio of Josh Varghese, Adam Hunt and Ade Awogbamilia, along with sophomore hurdlers Glenn Abbott and Devante Watson, and distance runners Mike Dowd and Noah Cziryak, the Runners earned the team crown with 131 points. RCGC led the team race on Day 3 from start to finish.
"It feels pretty good, especially when it was unexpected," said Coach Ryan Hughes afterwards. "Honestly, I was a little nervous this year -- last year we were No. 1 in the rankings all year so we came in looking to prove we deserved it. This year we were No. 5 and not really expected to win it -- but we were still confident and we got the job done."
The Runners clinched the crown in the day's final event when Dowd and Cziryak finished fourth and 8th respectively in the 5000 meters.
Earlier in the day, the Runners emerged with two new national champions. Varghese, Hunt and Awogbamilia swept the top three spots in the shot put with Varghese grabbing the national title. In the 110 hurdles, Abbott won his second career national title with Watson placing fifth. Watson later grabbed a key third place in the 400 meter hurdles to cap off a solid meet.
"Everyone had to have a perfect meet for us to win, and that's pretty much what happened," Hughes said. "Today, we were amazed with our 1-2-3 finish in the shot put and with the performances from Glenn (Abbott) and Devante (Watson). They came up huge for us."
In the women's team race, the Roadrunners placed fourth overall with 101 points, with Suffolk County taking the team crown. The Runners benefitted from Lyndsay Boyd's fifth place showing in the 1500 meters and Rayannia Robinson's third place in the high jump.
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