Junior Jamie Ruginski from Buxton is a highly decorated member of the USM indoor track team. He has competed and scored at both the regional and national level and will be representing the university at the the New England Intercollegiate Amateur Athletic Association Championships, one of the oldest track and field competitions in the country.
Though Ruginski has won more than a dozen track and field awards, he was humble during his interview, highlighting the hard work and skill of every teammate who passed and mentioned the importance of teamwork during competitions. “It takes everyone—every thrower, every jumper, every runner. It takes every person to win,” he said. “That’s what makes [track and field] so great.”
Ruginski himself has acquired an incredible amount of awards since joining the USM team. This season he has broken four school records in the 4-by-400 meter relay, long jump, triple jump and heptathlon. The record he broke for the long jump was his own, set on his very first meet for the USM Huskies.
Ruginski has received the Little East Conference Field Athlete of the Week award an unprecedented seven times and was named Eastern College Athletic Conference Track & Field Athlete of the Week another six times. The ECAC Track & Field Athlete of the Week award is comprised of schools from Maine all the way down to Georgia. Ruginski said he was very honored by the award.
Ruginski is ranked nationally in Division III for three events, having tied for second place in long jump and is third in both the triple jump and heptathlon, achieving victory in the heptathlon by a single point, where each of the seven events usually net between 700-800 points.
His favorite event is the triple jump, for which he has also picked up a slew of awards, including first in both the State Championship and New England Division III Championship. At the Men’s Indoor Track and Field Maine State Championships held at Bowdoin College on Feb. 1, Ruginski won two titles, long jump and triple jump, while also setting a new meet triple jump record of 48 feet, 4 inches. He was also named the recipient of the Peter Goodrich Memorial Most Valuable Field Athlete Award, becoming the second USM field athlete ever to receive the award, joining Wil Snyder, a pole vaulter who won the award in 2004. Ruginski picked up two more titles, scoring first in both long jump and triple jump at the New England Division III Championships held at MIT on March 1. He participated in an open Division meet at Boston University this past Friday, Feb. 28, where he placed third in long jump.
Last year, the Huskies sent three competitors to Nationals. This year Ruginski is predicting six to seven athletes—the most ever from USM. “We are bigger, better, faster, stronger this year,” he said. “ We are doing things no other schools do.”
For all the events he participates in, Ruginski admits that he is unnerved by one in particular—the pole vault. “It doesn’t look like 11 feet when you are up there, and that is just the starting height,” he said. “I give credit to anyone who does it.”
As well as spending as many as four hours a day at the track, Ruginski still makes time to keep up with his grades and snowboard between sport seasons. He admits that with track, there isn’t a lot of time for much else. “They tell you—school first, family and then track, but you almost have to put track first to stay ahead.”
The interview ended with a shout out to Ruginski’s fellow Huskies. “I’d like to thank my coaches and team for pushing me,” he said. “This will be the year we do something incredible for Maine.”