It started with one championship, the women’s cross-country national title in the fall. But, as is often the case in the non-stop, ultra-competitive world of running and jumping, one is never enough. Suffolk County Community College wanted more.
“We’ve definitely had a goal since that,” said Ryleigh Donegan, who was on that title-winning cross-country team. “We’ve had our eyes on track.”
They got what they wanted. And this time, the men joined in the fun. Yes, it was a banner spring season for the Sharks as both the men and women’s track and field programs took home titles at the National Junior College Athletic Association Division III Outdoor Championships, held May 7-8 at Westfield State University in Massachusetts.
It was the fourth time in NJCAA Division III history that one school won both the men’s and women’s titles in the same season, said Matthew French, head coach of both teams.
“It’s very special because it was my first year of college track and field,” said Sam Chimezie, who won the men’s 400-meter hurdle title in 54.22 seconds. “Winning proved that we are great and can accomplish many things. That meant a lot to me and to my team.”
Chimezie edged Harper College’s Eric Theis by just under one second, needing a strong finish to secure the victory.
“The last 200 meters were where I had to really push it,” said Chimezie, one of the men’s four individual champions. “I thought ‘This is what I drove four hours to do.’ Everything I went there for came down to the final 200 meters of the race.”
Chimezie placed second in the 110-meter hurdles (15.19), earning All-American status.
Connor Langdon won six decathlon events en route to a national championship. Langdon scored 5,865 points and won the 100 meters (11.61), long jump (20 feet, 111⁄4 inches), high jump (6-11⁄4), 400 (52.87), 110 hurdles (15.58), and 1,500 (5:09.78).
Even though he won the decathlon high jump, Langdon was unhappy with his inability to clear 6-2 or higher. Because of inclement weather during the meet, the high jump portion of the competition was moved inside.
Langdon said he had a hard time getting proper footing on the plastic jumping surface that he was now being forced to compete on. He decided to take his frustration out on the next event, the 400.
“I was getting angrier and angrier,” Langdon said. “In the 400, I got into my blocks and knew I had to do well to keep my lead. I came out a little slow. But, I knew at the 200-meter mark that I had the best kick out of all of them. I beat them all by 20 meters.”
Jesse Mattera was an All-American for placing second in the decathlon (5,507) and the pole vault (12-10 3⁄4)
The men had two winners in the field. Micah-Assibey Bonsu won the triple jump (46-11) and Cordell Nix won the high jump (6-4 3⁄4). Langdon gained All-American status for finishing second in the non-decathlon high jump (6-4 3⁄4, losing in a jump-off).
The women’s team won two individual national championships. Donegan won the 5,000 (19:20.63) and Sam Pollucci won the 100 (12.69).
“I maintained my speed the whole way,” Pollucci said. “I just made sure I didn’t give up before the end of the race.”
Pollucci was second in the 200 (25.74), one of seven All-Americans for the Suffolk women. Leana Wiebelt (10,000 meters), Menely Genao (1,500 meters), Taylor Van Nostrand (pole vault), Ebonie Lewis (shot put), and both the 4 x 800 and 4 x 100 meter relay teams earned All-American status.