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Alexander records two personal bests at Tom Jones Memorial


GAINESVILLE, Fla. – How great was the 2023 Tom Jones Memorial Invitational competition at the University of Florida’s Percy Beard Track? So good that North Carolina A&T outdoor men’s track athlete Reheem Hayles was two-one hundredths of a second off his nation-leading 400-meter pace from two weeks ago at the University of Florida and now ranks fourth nationally.

On Saturday, the A&T men’s and women’s outdoor track and field teams wrapped up competition at the two-day Tom Jones Memorial Invite after canceling last week’s scheduled home meet at Marcus T. Johnson Track because of inclement weather.

Carlos Alexander
After running the nation’s fastest 400m at the Florida Pepsi Relays on April 1, Hayles continued to post impressive times in the event. Hayles ran a 45.49 on Saturday that landed him in fourth place. The three runners that bested Hayles – Emmanuel Bynum (44.67), Evan Miller (45.14), and Khaleb McRae (45.21) – now hold the nation’s top-three 400m times, with Hayles’ 45.47 holding the fourth spot. Teammate Shemar Chambers landed 16th out of 66 competitors in the event by posting a 46.23.

Carlos Alexander had a stellar Day 2. Alexander put up two personal records and climbed to the No. 1 spot in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) in two events – the discus throw and the shot put. Alexander launched his best throw 162-feet, 4-inches, which landed him in 11th place. He secured fourth place in the men’s shot put event with a PR of 58-feet, ¼-inch. Also in the field for the shot put event, Brayden Hodgest (55-feet, 9-inches) placed seventh. Hodgest holds the No. 2 spot in the conference.

The men’s team recorded two other personal bests on Saturday. One came from Dawson Grogan (1:51.80) in the 800-meter run, and the other from Thomas Smith (14.18) in the 110-meter hurdles. As a result, Grogan moved to No. 2 in the CAA for his event, and Smith moved to No. 5 for his.

Paula Salmon was the first to take a mark on the track on the women’s side, racing in the 100-hurdle prelims. She qualified in 13.15 against 45 competitors before marking a 13.08 (wind-aided) in the finals for sixth place.

Ayoola Gbolade ran her first individual race this season, crossing in 2:09.64 during the collegiate 800m run. Fajr Kelly crossed in a season-low 2:10.56. As a result, Gbolade moved into the No. 3 rank in the CAA, and Kelly moved to No. 5.

In the 400m, against 68 athletes, Jada Griffin (52.97) placed 22nd and Pebbles Scott (54.18) finished 32nd. Griffin was already No. 1 in the conference for the 400m and remained the only CAA runner with sub-53 times. Scott moved up several positions to No. 3 in the CAA.

A&T will have another chance at hosting a track and field meet in 2023 after the cancelation of the Aggie Invitational. The Aggie Classic is scheduled for April 21-22 at Marcus T. Johnson Track.