WAVERLY, Iowa — Occidental sprinter Hugh Pegan is a national champion.
The sophomore from Ukiah fought through pouring rain for a wire-to-wire win in the 200m at the NCAA Division III National Championships at Wartburg College on Saturday.
Pegan crossed the finish line in 21.59 seconds against a -1.6 wind, becoming the first member of the Oxy program to win a national championship since 1985 when Malcolm Hardy won the 100m and the team of Rob Brown, Todd Stoney, Vance Mueller and Hardy won the 4x100m.
"It was an amazing performance. We couldn't be prouder of him," Oxy head coach Rob Bartlett said. "He's establishing a new bar for our program and taking us to places that we haven't been to in a long time."
It's Oxy's 12th individual national championship and first in the 200m in the NCAA Division III era that dates back to 1974.
"I attribute so much of my success this year to the people who've supported me," Pegan said. (Oxy assistant athletic trainer) Laura Friess Williams who made me ease up when I wanted to work harder, but she knew it would be better for me to rest, my teammates who always pushed me and of course West Region Coach of the Year Tyler Yamaguchi who made me work smart, not just hard.
I'm really excited for the seasons to come and see where our program can go."
Oxy finished in 14th place overall as a team, the highest of any SCIAC school.
Pegan, the 2015 SCIAC Newcomer of the Year, has had quite a second season full of awards. He was named the 2016 SCIAC Track Athlete of the Year after winning the conference title in the 100m, 200m and 4x400m relay. He also took second as a member of Oxy's 4x100m relay.
"Hugh really hit his stride when it mattered this year," Oxy assistant coach and sprints specialist Tyler Yamaguchi said. "He's been on fire since our conference championship and hasn't looked back. He's worked so hard this year and we're excited for what's to come."
Oxy's Gabriel Barrett-Jackson got the day started on the right foot, earning his second consecutive All-American honor in the 400m with a fourth-place finish. He ran 47.49 for the second fastest time in his career. One day earlier, Barrett-Jackson became the first 400m runner in the Division III era to crack Oxy's prestigious top 10 leader board with a 47.25.
"Gabe is a big meet performer," Bartlett said. "He's consistently stepped up and run fantastically at the biggest meets so it's no surprise to see him rising to the occasion once again this weekend."
Oxy's 4x400m relay team (Barrett-Jackson, Jesse Wong, Hugh Pegan and Jeh Johnson) finished off the meet with a fifth-place, All-American finish at 3:12.70.
Barrett-Jackson, Pegan and Johnson were all members of Oxy's 2015 All-American 4x100m realy team. Wong, a senior, ends his career with his first All-American award.
Oxy Preliminary Results and Notes
Thursday, May 26
200m prelims - Pegan won his heat of the 200m prelims, qualifying for Saturday's 3:40 p.m. final with the second-fastest time of 21.33. Pegan was in second until the last 40 meters of the race when he closed hard and overtook Wis.-Whitewater's Parker Witt.
Oxy's Jeh Johnson, who came into the race with the best seed time in the country, did not qualify for the final, running 22.07 to finish fourth in his heat and 15th overall.
Ernest Winters of Wis.-Lacrosse was the top qualifier in the event at 21.31.
4x400m relay prelims - The Oxy men's 4x400m relay team of Gabriel Barrett-Jackson, Jesse Wong, Hugh Pegan and Jeh Johnson qualified for Saturday's 4:50 p.m. final fourth overall and reset their SCIAC Division III record in the process, running 3:11.54. The Tigers set the SCIAC record at Westmont earlier this month. After a disappointing result in the 200m, Oxy anchor Jeh Johnson fought through a leg tangle with another runner and still split a very impressive 47.3. Pegan ran Oxy's fastest split at 47.00.
400m hurdles prelims - Two-time defending SCIAC Champion Jesse Wong ran a personal record 53.14, finishing one spot out of the top-eight qualifying cut. The eighth-best time was 53.07 by Wis.-Stout's Eric Fogltanz.
Wong, who was seeded 14th, overacheived, moving up to ninth overall and ninth in school history in the event.
4x100m relay prelims - The Tigers' team of Jeh Johnson, Hugh Pegan, Chris Rom-Toribio and Kyle Dalton ran 41.42, but did not qualify for Saturday's final. The Tigers had some difficulty during passes, running their third best time this season and 10th best overall during qualifying. Oxy was fourth in a slightly slower first heat. Johnson, Pegan and Dalton were all members of Oxy's 2015 fifth-place finishing All-American team.
Friday, May 27
400m prelims - Gabriell Barrett-Jackson did what no Oxy men's track athlete has done in the NCAA Division III era that dates to 1978, cracking Oxy's prestigious Top 10 program list in the 400m with a 47.25. Barrett-Jackson qualified automatically by winning the third heat with the 10th fastest time in Oxy history and the seventh all-time in SCIAC Division III.
Oxy National Qualifiers
Gabriel Barrett-Jackson - 400m and 4x400m
Hugh Pegan - 200m, 4x100m and 4x400m
Jeh Johnson - 200m, 4x100m and 4x400m
Jesse Wong - 400m hurdles
4x400m relay (Barrett-Jackson, Nicholas Conklin, Pegan and Johnson)Follow Oxy Athletics on Twitter Sign Up for Newsletters Watch on Youtube Follow us on Instagram