Anthony Peters won his fifth NAIA national championship on Friday, but for the St. Ambrose senior this one presented a different challenge.
Peters overcame cramps near the midpoint but ultimately won the title in the 3,000-meter race walk at the NAIA Indoor Track and Field Championships for the third consecutive year in competition at Pittsburg, Kansas.
"Halfway through, I was feeling good, on the pace I hoped to set and then I had a bad cramp. Fortunately, I was able to push through," Peters said.
His work, along with a fourth-place finish in the event by the Fighting Bees’ Emilio Mancha, has helped St. Ambrose sit in third place with 15 points in the team race at the meet, which concludes today.
Peters, who has also won two NAIA outdoor championships in the race walk, had his eye on the NAIA indoor meet record of 11 minutes, 46.2 seconds and was on pace to accomplish that as the race reached its midpoint.
But after the cramp five laps into the 10-lap race on the 300-meter course, his focus changed.
"Finish and hold onto first, that became the objective," Peters said. "It was a bad cramp. There was some pain, but I had to keep going. I had a lot of support from my teammates and coaches. I knew the race was tightening. I had to keep moving.’’
Peters finished in 12:09.58, beating Luke Jobson of West Virginia Tech by 18.17 seconds with a time that was nearly 20 seconds off of his winning effort in 2017.
The victory as a senior still meant plenty to the Bartlett, Illinois, native.
"My freshman year, it was just exciting to be here, and the past two years, I knew what to expect, but this year, the competition is getting better," Peters said. "There are more and better race walkers in our meets now, and they are pushing me to improve. It’s a good thing for the sport.
"I knew what I wanted to do, finish first, and I’m proud that I was able to get that done for the third year in a row. It means a lot."
Peters will look to add to his collection of titles during the outdoor season, where he is a two-defending champion in the 5,000 race walk.
Indoors on Friday his work was complemented by Mancha’s fourth-place effort in 12:40.65.
St. Ambrose picked up points in the women’s team race as well on Friday and are currently in fifth place with 15 points through six events.
The Bees scored in the 3,000 race walk, where Katharine Newhoff finished in a personal-best 14:20.37 to take third and teammate Jenny Lopez finished fifth.
St. Ambrose also finished sixth in the 3,200 relay. The Bees’ Corrie Reilley, Abby Hammer, Abby Sears and Sarah Adams matched their seed with their finish, posting a 9:27.86 time.
In men’s preliminaries, the St. Ambrose men’s team qualified two individuals for today’s finals in the 1,000 run.
Sophomore Josh Pestka, a North Scott graduate, posted the second-fastest qualifying time of 2:30.55 in the event and senior Rane Nichols, a Davenport West alum, advanced with the sixth-best time of 2:31.27.