ROCK ISLAND, Ill. -- Lawrence University cross country star Josh Janusiak knew he was running fast, but when he crossed the finish line Saturday at the NCAA Division III Midwest Regional, he literally couldn't believe his eyes.
Janusiak blazed to a school-record time of 23:55.7 to finish in 13th place on the 8,000-meter layout at Saukie Golf Course. Janusiak is assured of a place in the NCAA Division III Championships on Nov. 18 in Elsah, Ill., as one of the top seven runners not on one of the qualifying teams.
"It's taking a while for this to sink in," Janusiak said. "I thought the clock said 24:55 when I was crossing the finish line. It was really surprising to me. I'm really happy and excited."
Janusiak becomes the first Lawrence men's cross country runner to qualify for the NCAA Championships since Peter Levi in 2000. The last Viking to make the NCAA meet was Valerie Curtis in 2002.
"My goal was to be around the top 10, but I didn't foresee it being this fast a race," Janusiak said. "It was great to finish with that group with this time."
The race was won by UW-Eau Claire's Darin Lau in a lightning-quick 23:21.5, and perrenial national title winner North Central College placed five runners in the top 12 to win the team title with 34 points. Lawrence finished 19th in the nation's toughest regional with 557 points.
Janusiak's time breaks the school record of All-American and Lawrence Hall of Famer Jim Miller. Miller set the record on the same course with a time of 24:21 back in 1978. Janusiak improved on his own personal best by more than a minute after running 24:58.7 on his way to winning the Midwest Conference Championships on Oct. 28.
"That's really exciting too," Janusiak said. "Breaking that record has been a goal of mine for a long time. I wasn't sure how close I would come to achieving that."
Sophomore Joe Kortenhof was the next finisher for the Vikings as he placed 99th in 25:39.3, and Ben Schaefer was close behind in 109th in 25:50.1. Rounding out the scoring for the Vikings were Cullen Allard (149th, 26:41.9) and Alec Timpe (187th, 27:38.9).
On the women's side, Lawrence had a group of four runners finish with 35 seconds of one another. Hannah Kinzer led the group by taking 96th in 23:06.3, and Alex Chand was 109th in 23:23.1. Erin Schrobilgen finished 128th in 23:29.6 with Margaret Huck in 130th in 23:41.6. Christina Sedall completed the scoring by taking 175th in 24:33.7.