JJC Track and Field Wins Three National Titles, Finishes in Top 10 at NJCAA DIII Championships

The Joliet Junior College (JJC) track and field teams made the most of their trip to the NJCAA Division III Track and Field Championships as the men's team finished in third place while the women came in sixth.

Individually, the Wolves brought home three national titles as the men's 4x800 relay team of Stephen Lundy, Chris Johnson, Matt Clark and Alex Johnson won in a school record time of 7:59.56. Alex Johnson captured the 400-meter title (49.68) and Andrew Ciarlette won the 3,000-meter steeplechase (9:58.41). 

"I'm so proud of our team," said head coach Jeff DeGraw. "They were ready, and they performed on the biggest stage of the season, and they deserve all the credit. Everyone had their best or close to their best performance of the season, and that is all you can ask for. When the individuals perform then the team points come together and to bring home a top three trophy is so exciting. It's something these athletes will remember for the rest of their lives."

Ciarlette had one of the best performances of any athlete at the meet, placing in the top three of every distance event. In addition to winning the steeplechase, he was second in the 10,000 meters and third in the 1,500 and 5,000 meters.

"To run all the distance events over three days is hard, but to place in the top three in all of them is something very special and something I haven't seen in 30 years of coaching," DeGraw said.

The Wolves had 22 athletes earn All-American status between both teams. The women were led by Emma Cecich's runner-up finish in the steeplechase. Meg Sukley finished in fourth in the 100 hurdles and was also part of the fourth place 4x100 relay with Kayla Williams, Adrienne Karpen and Regan Furmankiewicz.

The men had 10 events with a top three performance. Ozzie Gamboa was second in the shot put and discus, Michael Welcome was runner-up in the steeplechase and Noah Smith earned bronze in the 400 hurdles. Smith was joined by Alex Johnson, Chris Johnson and Stephen Lundy to grab third in the 4x400 relay.

2024 marks the second year of JJC's men's and women's track and field program.

Photos © NJCAA

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