From 1997 to 2014, The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) was literally unbeatable in men’s outdoor and indoor track and field. 17 consecutive New Jersey Athletic Conference championships certainly should qualify a school as legendary, but all good things must come to an end.
You could say that Dustin Dimit was the dealbreaker for the Lions’ continuing success.
Now in his fifth year as head coach for Rowan’s men’s team, the Profs have taken TCNJ’s place in the conference. They’ve won the NJAC in Dimit’s first four years in both outdoor and indoor events. The coach also hasn’t been shy of winning awards while his team is winning titles. Dimit is the reigning NJAC Coach of the Year and had been since he stepped foot in the office.
But things are a bit different now. This season’s indoor team only has four upperclassmen; two juniors and two seniors.
Last year there were 18.
Despite the changes, Dimit has instilled a culture in men’s track and field that, no matter the roster, will always compete.
“We’ve just tried to create a culture that allows success to happen as far as setting the tone early about what our team goals are and things like that,” Dimit said. “This year will be a big test to that. We graduated a lot of really good guys. We have other guys ready to step up. We’re hoping it’s more of a reloading year than a rebuilding year. I think we should be a top-10 team at nationals. The biggest thing is setting a culture that no person is bigger than the team. It’s an individual sport, but it’s a team sport as well.”
Through two weeks of competition, the Brown and Gold have had eight individuals as well as the 4×400 meter relay team come in third or better. When it comes to expectations going into the season, this is what Dimit saw coming from his team production-wise.
“A lot of people are performing how we expected. Shai Mumford has come out and been one of the top guys in [the] 200 [meter] in the country. But, he was last year. John Owens didn’t do indoor last year, he started in outdoor track,” Dimit said. “So the fact that he’s jumping as far as he did at the end of outdoor last year, we’re really excited about him. Spencer Jarrett is a transfer from a junior college that didn’t have track. Being out of running for a couple of years and starting off so well, we’re really excited to see what he can do. I think all of our freshman who have competed have competed at or above the level we expected. Most are at or close to qualifying for the regional meet already.”
After a couple of strong performances, including second in the high jump at the Fast Times Before Finals meet, Owens was named the NJAC Indoor Track and Field Rookie of the Week on Monday for the second consecutive week.
“It’s great,” Dimit said on Owens’ accomplishment. “We have a bunch of other guys that, if he didn’t get it, probably could. So that’s pretty exciting as well that we know we have some of the top young guys.”
Rowan now has a bit over a month until their next meet. It’s now up to the members of the team to take matters into their own hands over break to keep training and gear up for the rest of the season.
“We have five weeks now where we don’t have practice,” Dimit said. “We give them workouts to do and they do them at home, or [for] guys that live here taking winter classes we’ll open up the gym or the track depending on the weather. We’re not allowed to give them feedback during that time, but they can send us a video and we can do it. But if they are here practicing, I can’t say ‘No, do it this way.’ They can videotape it and we can talk about it in the end. That’s really hard for us, but most schools deal with it as well so it’s making sure that they realize how important that is.”
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