UTICA, NY -- The RCGC Men's Track and Field Team captured their first NJCAA Division III National Championship since 2014 and second overall with a spectacular finish at Mohawk Valley Community College on Saturday.
Sophomore Jake Caruso (Eastern Regional) and freshman Mike Dowd (Williamstown) clinched the national crown with second and third place finishes respectively in the 5000 meters, giving the Roadrunners the national title with 134.50 points to slip by Suffolk County College, the runner-up at 122 points. Caruso claimed All-American honors with his second place showing in the event.
"This feels great to win this championship after being ranked No. 1 all year – we would rather win the title here on the track anytime," said head coach Ryan Hughes, who was also selected as Men’s National Coach of the Year.
The Roadrunners' women's squad finished as national runner-up in the NJCAA Women's Division III race, thanks to the efforts of three-time national champion Elisia Lancaster (Delsea), who capped a terrific meet with a win in the shot put Saturday. Teammate Emily Hilt (Schalick) also placed second in the same three events to bring home All-American honors in each event.
The Roadrunners men's team experienced plenty of adversity during the meet when sophomore standout runner Josh Legg suffered a wrist injury during Friday's events and was forced to sit out Saturday's competition. That only motivated Caruso and Dowd even more.
"Hey this was our teammate who had contributed all season long to our success," said Caruso, who himself earned a second straight national title in the men's steeplechase on Friday. "No way we're not getting this one for Josh."
Adam Hunt, who won two national titles and All-American honors in the steeplechase and discus earlier, took a key fifth place finish in the shot put Saturday.
In women’s action, the Roadrunner women’s team enjoyed their best finish since the 2013 season, when the program won a national crown. Lancaster and Hilt dominated the field events by sweeping first and second place finishes in the hammer throw, discus and shot put events.
“This was an honor for Emily (Hilt) and I to sweep these events and give our team a chance to win,” said Lancaster. “We came in here wanting to perform like we know we’re capable of, and we’re proud of the results. Hopefully next year the women’s team will win a team championship!”
The performances of the entire team was remarkable, said Director of Athletics Brian Rowan.
"I can't begin to tell you how thrilled the entire athletic department and administration is with this team's efforts," said Rowan. "To overcome the adversity they faced on the final day against some tough teams shows the true character of these athletes and is a tribute to the coaching staff."