By Megan Toninato – [email protected]

As a Division III school, there are often times during the season where track and field teams go head-to-head against Division II and Division I teams, testing all they have against some of top athletes in the country.

This past weekend, SJU track and field tied their spikes and hit the road to Fargo, North Dakota for the NDSU Classic, facing off against DI and DII athletes.

Here, the Johnnies proved they have what it takes to mix in with the best and had three top-three finishes.

In the 400 meter hurdles junior Mitch Peck ran a personal record with a time of 54.68 seconds, earning a second place finish. Currently, Peck holds the fastest time in the MIAC for the 400m hurdles with that time. During the race last weekend, Peck finished just 0.01 seconds behind NDSU’s number one 400m hurdler.

Off of the track, senior Raymond Twumasi and junior Colton Peterson took to the triple jump against some stiff competition. Twumasi and Peterson finished first and third respectively. Both scored personal bests, Twumasi with a leap of 14.33 meters and Peterson with a jump of 14.04 meters.

“It was absolutely amazing,” Twumasi said about his first-place finish in the triple jump. “I tend to go to meets with fairly high expectations of my performance, so being able to actually meet those expectations at this meet felt wonderful.”

Head track and field Coach Jeremy Karger-Gatzow, who received the MIAC Outdoor Track and Field Men’s Coach of the year award last year, thought Twumasi’s performance topped off an already great day.

“I was overjoyed to see how well the team performed with many personal records and even some high finishes culminating with Twumasi’s big gold medal win in the triple jump,” Karger-Gatzow said. “His performance concluded the meet with a giant exclamation point. Raymond is a hard-working guy who takes practice and meets day-by-day, focusing on the basics.”

With the tournament being full of some of the best runners in the country, Coach Karger-Gatzow was proud of the way his team handled the situation.

“NDSU always hosts very competitive meets with primarily Division I and II schools,” Karger-Gatzow said. “The high level of competition made for a challenging meet, but the team really rose to the occasion. The athletes could have easily become overwhelmed by the outstanding Division I runners.”

On April 21, the Johnnies sent seven athletes to Wisconsin to compete in La-Crosse’s Esten Challenge.

Here, these seven men ran in the 3000m steeplechase.

Senior Ryan Bugler ran his first steeplechase of the season and brought home the gold with a time of 9:16.94. Bugler is the reigning DIII Champion in the 3000m steeplechase.

In the MIAC standings for fastest times in the steeplechase, Bugler sits first among current runners and the next closest runner is a whole 19 seconds away.

As the season comes down to just two meets left before the MIAC championships, the Johnnies have some strong athletes to keep an eye on to make some noise.

Karger-Gatzow is excited for what the rest of the season may bring.

“As with any sports season, there is built in drama; strikes and gutters, ups and downs,” Karger-Gatzow said. “As we near the end of the season, the team continues to improve and I look forward to seeing how they handle the bigger meets and more gold medal performances.”

Feature photo courtesy of: ALEXUS JUNGLES • [email protected]