Widzgowski races to second in NCAA Division III championshipsFormer Windjammer competes in mile, earns All-American status
Naperville, Ill. — Camden Hills Regional High School graduate and Keene State College student-athlete Ryan Widzgowski always has been known as one of the fastest runners in his school.
Now he has proven one of the most fleet afoot in the nation.
Widzgowski finished second — missing first by less than a second — in the mile during the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III Indoor Track-and-Field Championships March 9 at North Central College in Naperville, Ill.
The former Windjammer was seeded seventh among 13 runners in the event with a qualifying time of 4:12.90. He bested that with a blistering pace and finish at the nationals.
After watching Keene State College teammate Janel Haggerty capture the national championship in the pentathlon Friday night, Widzgowski made sure he would not leave the national meet empty-handed, as he raced to All-American honors Saturday.
Widzgowski, making his first trip to the nationals, placed second in the mile with a personal-best time of 4:07.86.
“I was surprised I finished so high,” said Widzgowski, a junior from Camden, quoted in a story on the Keene State College website. “It was my first time at the championships and all I wanted to do was get top eight, beat two runners, so I can I stand on the podium with a trophy.”
Widzgowski exceeded his own expectations. Staying in contact with the lead pack, Widzgowski made his move at the midway point of the race. “All of sudden I looked up and there was three laps to go,” he said. “I started thinking I was back in Keene, flying down Baker Street. I didn’t even realize the race was over.”
“Ryan ran a perfect race. It went exactly as we planned it,” said Keene State College Coach Peter Thomas, who was quoted in a story on the college website. “All he had to do was get in line and follow the pace. When it was time for him to go around people he did that.”
The favorite, Dan Sullivan, a junior from Wisconsin-Stevens Point, won the race with a time of 4:07.03. Both Widzgowski and Sullivan set facility and Division III meet records with their time.
Widzgowski’s mile time was the second fastest at Keene State. Mark Miller, a four-time national champ at the school, holds the record with a time of 4:06.02.
With his performance over the weekend, Widzgowski is among the 67 all-time on the list of Keene State indoor track All-Americans.
Born in Willington Del., Widzgowski moved to Camden at a young age and followed the lead of friends who used running to stay in shape for other sports.
Widzgowski participated in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track and field during his days as a Windjammer.
“I was the awkward duck in middle school,” he said. “A bunch of my friends did cross country to get in shape for basketball and baseball so I did it too.”
Initially concentrating on basketball at Camden Hills, Widzgowski felt something was missing.
“I missed running, so my sophomore year I left the basketball team and began running cross country,” he said.
Widzgowski made the right choice, earning multiple Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference all-conference awards and team most valuable runner honors in cross country as well as indoor and outdoor track.
He then made the move to Keene State, where he immediately made an impact, becoming one of the team's top runners as a freshman.
Winning the Little East Conferenc championship in the 1,000 meters, Widzgowski posted his NCAA championship-qualifying time in the mile at the New England Championship at Boston University.
“I’m just going to go out there and have a blast,” said Widzgowski before the national meet. “I know what I am capable of doing. There’s no difference in me and the 12 other guys on the line. I deserve to be there. I don’t need to be afraid.”
And he was not afraid to make a run at the top spot in the country.
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