National champion: Kwaku Nkrumah captures the Division III title in the 110-meter hurdles

National champion: Kwaku Nkrumah captures the Division III title in the 110-meter hurdles

Kwaku Nkrumah, a sophomore on the men's outdoor track and field team, is a national champion. Nkrumah won the NCAA Division III title in the 110-meter hurdles, turning in the second fastest time in history.

Kwaku Nkrumah was nervous.

“Honestly, I was scared. I was in the blocks shaking. But then I thought about what I did over practice and all the work I put in at practice,” he says.

Just 13.77 seconds later, Nkrumah was a national champion.

Turning in a flawless race for Rowan University’s men’s outdoor track and field team, Nkrumah won the NCAA Division III national title in the 110-meter hurdles last month in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

The sophomore advertising major from Englewood edged his teammate, Jason Agyemang, by .03 to earn the championship. Fellow Prof Marquise Young finished fifth in the race.

In overall standings at the NCAA championships, Coach Dustin Dimit’s team ended the season tied for third in the nation with Minnesota’s Bethel University.

Nkrumah, whose time is the second fastest mark in Division III history, is the first student-athlete on the men’s team to win a national title since 2021. He’s the first Rowan hurdler to claim the 110-meter championship since Stanley Moore in 1983.

Heading into the championship race, Nkrumah had turned in time of 13.73 in the first heat on Friday, May 24. The following day, the title race was delayed more than two hours due to a thunderstorm. But Nkrumah stayed focused, concentrating on one goal, he says.

“I just wanted to run my race,” he says. “I never ran in the rain before.”

Running alongside his teammates helped, he says.

“We always push each other in practice,” Nkrumah notes. “Honestly, once we started, it felt a little like practice in the final.”

In winning the title, Nkrumah avenged a loss in the same race last year, when, as a first-year student-athlete, he fell to fourth place at 14.25,  just .03 behind the winner. He thought he had last year’s race won and says he started to celebrate prematurely. That decision cost him the title. But he learned from the experience, he says.

“Last year, I had a good race, but I decided to showboat and finished fourth. Lesson learned. I thought about that all of last summer. It gave me motivation to work harder. I trained on foot speed and worked on getting faster without the hurdles. I knew I had to redeem myself.

“Now, I’m just focusing on running through the line at every race,” says Nkrumah, who shaved .48 off last year’s time to claim the NCAA title.

“Kwaku has worked so hard to refine his craft and get better and more technical in his races,” says Coach Dustin Dimit. “His hard work and focus definitely showed this year with his results on the track, but we also saw great growth from him in maturity, in leadership and in the classroom.

“We know that he is just starting to scratch the surface of what he is capable of.”

Nkrumah’s success and maturation this year—he didn’t begin competing in track until his senior year at Teaneck High School—means that he has big goals for next year’s indoor and outdoor track seasons. They include defending his outdoor title, of course.

“I might get even faster this year,” he says. “I’m trying to go for all of the records in the 60- and 110-meter hurdles.”

Nkrumah, who also would like to compete as a sprinter for the Profs, credits his coaches for their guidance.

“I wanted to be in open sprints, but my high school coach decided to put me in the hurdles,” he says. “The hurdles require a lot of skill and technique.

“I still want to run the open 100 and the 4x100. I always tell Coach Tate to put me in. But whatever Tate says…goes,” Nkrumah says with a chuckle, referring to Assistant Coach Norm Tate, who, in his 16th year of coaching at Rowan, was named the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association National Division III Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year for the 2024 outdoor track and field season.

“He always tells me to have tunnel vision. I’ve had good coaches in my life. When I started in track, I never would have seen myself winning a national championship.”