LA CROSSE, Wis. -- Passing Josh Janusiak in a race is like throwing down the gauntlet.
The Lawrence University track and field star met the challenge on Thursday morning and raced to All-America honors at the NCAA Division III Championships at Veterans Memorial Field. Janusiak (South Milwaukee, Wis./South Milwaukee) finished seventh in the 10,000 meters in 31:02.02, and the top eight runners are All-Americans.
"I felt good when I started passing a couple of guys later in the race," Janusiak said. "That's when I was feeling the worst, and I think others were feeling their worst as well. That was a confidence booster to pass a couple of guys at that point."
Once Janusiak improved his position during that stage of the race, he latched on to sixth place and held that until he was challenged by a host of runners. He finished more than nine seconds ahead of the ninth-place finisher to maintain his position as an All-American.
The race, which was won by North Central College's Dhruvil Patel in 29:47.30, got off to a quick start, and Janusiak ran with the lead group.
"The strategy from the get-go was to put ourselves in the top five to top eight depending on pace," Lawrence coach Jason Fast said. "The pace ended up being very honest, and it worked to our advantage to be in that postion."
With Patel stretching his lead during the mid-point of the race, Janusiak was battling with a group of about a half-dozen runners stretching from fifth place on back.
"Josh was with one other guy (Washington and Jefferson's Harley Moyer) with two miles to go, and at that point that runner made a move on him. That kind of woke him up a little bit," Fast said.
Janusiak battled back, passed Moyer and settled into sixth place. Over the final few laps, Williams College's Ben Decker was comfortably ahead of Janusiak, and a group of four runners were seven to eight seconds behind Janusiak.
"I really wasn't sure where the guys were behind me," Janusiak said. "I did know I was in sixth at that point so that was really comforting. I had an OK finish, not extremely strong or anything. I did try to up the speed a little bit."
Only Walker Rynes of UW-Platteville was able to catch Janusiak, and they were less than a second apart at the finish.
"It's really exciting (to be an All-American), especially after cross country (the 2017 NCAA Championships) where I was so close to being an All-American," Janusiak said. "It's so great to get it here because it's so hard to qualify for track nationals."
Janusiak becomes Lawrence's first track All-American since Kolade Agbaje-Williams did it twice (indoors and outdoors) in the long jump in 2003.
"Josh looked very strong. He's just a very tough, consistent runner. It doesn't matter if it's windy or cold or hot," said Fast, noting the race was moved up three hours to 8 a.m. because of the expected high heat index in La Crosse. "That's what you need to be if you want to succeed at the national championships."