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Aggies dominate on home turf

A&T senior Morgan Knight placed second in the pole vault with a leap of 12-feet-9 inches.
Photo courtesy Kevin L. Dorsey

North Carolina A&T track and field lived up to the hype for their home fans over the weekend. The defending men’s and women’s outdoor MEAC champions who are also back-to-back MEAC indoor champions finished the Aggie Invitational at Irwin Belk Track with 13 combined victories over two days. The Aggie men and women also combined for 27 Top-5 finishes.

N.C. A&T also honored 13 seniors during the day including India Brown, Imani Coleman, Morgan Knight, Imani Abraham, Miranda Green, Todd Townsend, Aaron Deane, Corey Aiken, Steve Stowe, Nehemiah Lipford, TeQuille Jackson, Joel Thomas and Dajuan Harding.

“We always want to show out at home,” said the director of track and field programs Duane Ross. “We had a lot of alumni here supporting us. We also train here every day, so we have to handle our business. We did that for the most part. But we can still fine-tune and get better as a team. We had a lot of great performances but I will not be happy until everyone has a great performance, especially at home.

Women’s Track and Field

The women accomplished 12 personal bests with first-place finishes in the 100, 200, 1500, 400mh, 4x400 relay and high jump.

Junior Kayla White had an exceptional weekend in front of the home crowd breaking two records and excelling up the national rankings in both the women’s 100 meters and 100-meter hurdles. On Saturday, White ran a personal-best 11.21 in the 100m preliminaries to claim the 12th-fastest time in the nation. Later, she won the 100 finals in 11.24. On Friday, White won the 100mh in 12.92 to rank eighth nationally.

“Kayla is the type of athlete who gets out there and does whatever you ask her to do,” said Ross. “She leaves it all out there on the track. It does not matter what event you ask her to do.”

Brown won the women’s 200m and ranks 24th in the nation at 23.09. Brown was second in the 100 (11.50) behind White. “India and Kayla are our ultimate leaders. We are going to miss India because she is graduating,” said Ross. “But she is leaving the team in good hands with Kayla. The goal for Kayla now is to get to nationals and win. She can do it. We have to keep her healthy, confident, positive and ready for June.”

Personal records continued to drop for the Aggie women. Sophomore Tori Ray was the runner-up in the 400m with the second-fastest time in the MEAC at 53.85. Freshman Nia Lundy (54.76) was fifth followed by sophomore Sun-Sara Williams who recorded a personal-best 55.20. Freshman Payton Russell (55.98) finished ninth. Sophomore Kristoni Barnes (56.36) and Khadija Reid (58.89) also recorded personal records in the event.

The Aggies took the first four spots in the women’s 1500m behind winner sophomore G’Jasmyne Butler’s 4:51.56. Sophomore Camille Martin ran a personal-record 4:55.34, Coleman ran 4:55.76 and Green finished in 5:01.41 to round out the Top-4.

N.C. A&T won the women’s 400mh led by junior Kennedy Thorne’s personal best 1:00.39 as she is ranked second in the conference. Sophomore TeJyrica Robinson (1:01.82) placed fourth with her fastest time of the season to rank sixth on the MEAC list. Freshman Nazah Reddick won the high jump at 5-feet, 5-inches. The women’s 4x400 team of Ray, Russell, Williams, and Lundy won the event in 3:38.34.

Junior Anisa Toppin’s 40-foot, 5-inch jump was good enough for third place in the triple jump. Freshman Loren James had a personal record in the discus at 138-feet, 8-inches.

Men’s Track and Field

The men were also successful. They had 10 personal records and victories in the 400, 1500, 4x100 and 4x400.

In the 100m invitational, sophomore Jaylan Mitchell now has the fastest time in the MEAC as he ran a 10-flat during prelims. In the final, junior Rodney Rowe finished third with a personal best 10.29 to rank fourth in the MEAC and 25th nationally. Freshman Michael Bell (10.51) ran a personal record in the 100m to finish second as he moved into 11th place in the MEAC.

Rowe (20.72) took second in the 200 while freshman Trevor Stewart was fourth with a personal-record 20.80 to rank third in the MEAC and 30th nationally. Stewart won the 400m with the 18th-fastest time in the nation at 46.38 for another Aggie personal record.

Junior Justin Hamilton (47.19) was third and Harding (47.46) was sixth in the 400m. Four Aggies finished in the 1500m Top-5. Marquise McGee (4:04.35) was first (4:04.35) followed by Stowe (4:05.05), sophomore Coy Brown (4:08.61) and Daquan Maddox (4:15.17) was fifth.

Two Aggies ran career-best in the men’s 400mh. Freshman Chase Bonham (52.81) was seventh and sophomore Robert Miller (53.89) was 10th. The duo sit fourth and eighth in the MEAC. The Aggies 4x400 relay team of Hamilton, Stewart, Dickson, and Harding rank 18th in the NCAA after recording the MEAC’s top time at 3:07.23.

The 4x100 team of Mitchell, Thomas, Dickson, and Rowe were also winners by running the relay in 39.76.

In the throws, junior Derrick Wheeler (51-feet, ¼ inch) placed third in the shot put and freshman Aaron Wilkerson (50-feet, ¾ inches) was fourth. In the triple jump, senior Aaron Deane (46-feet 3 ½ inches) was sixth and in the pole vault Townsend (12-feet, 9 ½ inches) was fourth.

“I am tough on giving praise especially when they have more. So that means on Monday we will get back to the drawing board until we get what we expect,” said Ross.