For the first time, the Roadrunner Men's Track and Field Team are the NJCAA Division III National Champions. This is the 27th overall NJCAA National Championship for the college and the second for head coach Ryan Hughes who led the Women's program to the national championship last spring. The Gloucester County College track and field teams competed in the NJCAA Division III National Championships this weekend at Mowhawk Valley Community College in Utica, NY. The teams returned home with much more than they expected; breaking 2 school records, adding 14 All-Americans to our wall-of-fame, adding 7 individual NJCAA National Champions, and to top it all off, the GCC men's track and field team won their 1st National title. The women's team finished in 5th place.
Individual national titles were won by both the men and women. In the field, GCC swept the championships in the javelin, with Kyle Kirschner winning for the men and Shannon Grega winning for the women. On the track, GCC also swept the 5000m, with Catherine Dougherty winning for the women and Pat McCurry winning for the men. Pat McCurry dominated the track and was the top point scorer for GCC, coming home with championships in the 1500m and 3000m steeplechase to go along with his 5000m win. In the 400m, Marquis Tabb smashed the school record and easily outdistanced the competition to win his first national title.
The other All-Americans for the roadrunners were the men's 4x800m relay team of William Cheety, Marquis Tabb, Pat McCurry and Brian Simmons who finished in 2nd place and just missed breaking the school record by less than a second. On the women's side, Catherine Dougherty added to her numerous honors with an All-American 2nd place finish in both the 1500m and the 3000m steeplechase where she once again broke her own school record. The final All-American for GCC came from Rebekah Strong with her 2nd place finish in the pole vault.
Several athletes were just shy of All-American status with 3rd place finishes, but helped score big points for the teams. The Gloucester County NJCAA bronze medalists were Kyle Kirschner and Bianca Turner in the discus, Anthony Kinsley in the javelin, Will Cheety in the 10,000m and Neil Rizzo in the pole vault.
Head coach Ryan Hughes shared his thoughts on the championship: "Going through the season, I knew we had a lot of talented and hardworking individuals, but I was worried that we lacked the depth of previous years, especially in the jumping events. Coming into the final week of the season, I decided to sit down and look a little more closely at the national competition we had not seen yet and figure out a possible score for the national meet based on previous performances. I was shocked when I totaled up my tally and saw that we could win the meet on a perfect day. I decided to cautiously inform the team of the possibility and hoped that they would respond with optimism rather than stress. Once we got to the meet, we were met by conditions far from perfect... hot temperatures we have not seen all season, and fierce winds that slowed down times and pushed throws and jumps all over the place. Right away, GCC took the lead in the competition and then battled back and forth with runner-up SUNY-Delhi all the way until the final event, the 5000m. During the race, I told the entire team to strategically spread out around the track so every step of the race would be filled with cheers and support. SUNY-Delhi went into the race with a 5 point lead, but GCC had 3 tough-as-nails competitors versus just one of theirs. The race went perfectly according to plan, where a dominant performance by triple winner Pat McCurry and All-American Brian Simmons sealed the win for GCC and sent the team into tears of joy and relief. Even though I had told the team the win was possible, I don't think they truly believed me until we got to the meet. The teams worked hard all season and we were used to facing tough conditions after a harsh winter, cold spring and several injuries."
For the second year in a row, GCC was able to capture a national title! The team could not have won the title without the hard work and dedication of assistant coach Joe Kalnas, who continues to lead the Roadrunner field teams to national dominance. Since taking over the programs in 2003, Coach Hughes and Kalnas have produced 61 All-Americans, 33 Individual National Champions and captured 2 NJCAA Team National Championships.
Read more and check full results at NJCAA.org....
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