Men's relay team wins second straight national titleMay 29, 2012
Winning national championships is starting to become a tradition for Rowan University's men's 4x400 meter relay team.
For the second straight year, the team of Jayce Maxwell, Taylor Purdue, Ali Ejaz and Demetrius Rooks won the NCAA Division III national title in the Outdoor Track & Field Championships held on Saturday, May 26, on the campus of Claremont-Mudds-Scripps Colleges in Claremont, Calif.
The quartet turned in a winning time of 3:10.56 to bring the title home again to Rowan. Maxwell is a senior biological science major from Toms River, while Purdue is a junior mechanical engineering major from Highland Lakes. Both junior sociology majors, Ejaz is from Glassboro and Rooks is from Galloway.
Last year, the team won Rowan's first national championship in the 4x400 in more than 25 years with a 3:11.45 showing in competition at Ohio Wesleyan University.
Successfully defending a national championship in any sport is no easy feat. But defending this title this year was especially challenging, according to Coach Bill Fritz, now in his 18th year as head coach of the Profs.
In the Thursday 4x100 relay trials, Maxwell "took a severe tumble," and skinned himself from head to toe, according to Fritz. But there was no way the senior wasn't going to compete, Fritz said.
"He skinned himself on his whole left leg, his arm, shoulder and back," Fritz said. "He couldn't even move without breaking open a scab, but he toughed it out. I knew he was going to run it—and run it well—no matter what."
Though Maxwell slowed down a little as he finished his leg, Purdue picked up the pace on his leg. And then Ejaz and Rooks led the Profs to a big finish, according to Fritz.
"Ali really came into his own at this meet," Fritz says. "And Demetrius is a fantastic kicker. He came through again.
"The team knew what they had to do—and they were really there for each other."
"We've been running together for two years now, so we don't really need to say anything to each other," says Maxwell, noting that team members regularly "pick each other up" if one runner doesn¹t have a great leg.
"I tried to push through the pain as much as I could," he adds. "Since I¹m a senior, the guys all told me, 'This one¹s for you.' I feel blessed—and humbled—to be running with them."
In addition to winning a team national championship, both Rooks and Ejaz earned All-America honors in the 400-meter hurdles and 200 meters respectively.
For the second straight year, Rooks placed second in the 400-meter hurdles, recording a school record of 51.25. Ejaz finished fourth in the 200 meters
with a time of 21.302. He broke the school record in the preliminaries with a time of 21.18.
Women earn All-America honors
Two Prof women—Jena Peacock and Melissa Lake—also earned All-America status in the women's competition.
Peacock, a senior English and elementary education major from Williamstown, turned in a time of 10:37.20 in the 3000-meter steeplechase, while Lake, a freshman law and justice studies major from Marlton, finished eighth in the javelin with a throw of 138 feet, five inches (42.20 meters).
Peacock's time in the steeplechase improved on the school record she already held.