GREENSBORO -- The North Carolina A&T men’s indoor track and field team comes into the season with great anticipation after signing an outstanding freshman class. The women’s indoor team comes into the season knowing they are a year away from the same anticipation.
Saturday, both teams open the season at the JDL College Kickoff Meet in Winston-Salem, N.C. The meet is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m.
“We’re going to take this meet to work on some things that ordinarily we may not be able to work on in practice,” said Duane Ross, A&T’s director of track and field programs. “We’re going to be able to work on things in a race setting. The kids will have an opportunity to have a competition warm up to tweak things in these early meets that are close and local. Not too much pressure, but they will be able to get in there and compete, fine tune some things and gain some confidence. I’m glad we have this meet 45 minutes up the road, that’s a benefit for us.”
Another benefit for Ross is his recruiting class. The second-year coach made an aggressive push to build the men’s track and field teams for 2013-14. There are 10 freshmen on the men’s side who will debut in Aggie uniforms at the JDL.
Maurice Eaddy (Siler City, N.C.) will compete in the 60 meters, 300 meters and he will be one-fourth of the Aggies 4x400 meter ‘B’ relay team. Josh Peoples (Ellicott City, Md.) has the same three events scheduled. Frank Quarles (Fayetteville, N.C.) will try to make a first impression in the long jump and the 4x400 as a part of the Aggies ‘A’ relay team.
Also making their debuts tomorrow are Thomas Jones and Todd Townsend (60 meter hurdles). Barry Harris (Greensboro, N.C.) will compete in the 300 and 500 meters, while Josiah Elliott (Winston-Salem, N.C.) will be alongside him in the 500, but will also compete in the 1000 meters. Bryon Mingo (Lexington, S.C.) will make an appearance on the 4x4 ‘A’ relay team and in the 400 meters. Marc McKeithan (Mt. Airy, N.C.) will throw the shot put and the weight throw, while Marquis Howard (Raleigh, N.C.)
“All my freshmen are going to be good,” said Ross. “I think they’re impact players and game changers, so I’m excited about all our freshmen.”
Ross had a different take about the A&T women.
“This year on the women’s side we’re rebuilding,” he said. “The plan was to bring in the men last year and we’re focusing on the women this year.”
Ross believes senior Roshel Bygraves (Houston, Texas) can finish her career with impressive accolades in 2013-14. Bygraves will race in the 500 and 300 meters and the 4x400 meter relay at JDL. Latrese Baker, a Charlotte University transfer, is the No. 1 seed in the women’s 60 meter preliminary race at JDL. Ross is also expecting big things from Imani Harris-Quillen (Philadelphia, Pa.). The sprinter is competing in the 60 and 300 meters as well as the 4x400. After JDL, the Aggies are looking forward to hitting the road to some big meets in Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Virginia and New Mexico. But the ones close to home have an importance as well.
“I think it’s important to travel and let the kids experience different areas and see different sites and different facilities to compete on, but I also think it’s important to have our fan base, alumni and families see our teams compete as well,” said Ross. “We have some very good high school athletes in this state so it gives us a chance to use it as a recruiting tool. A lot of local talent that we’re recruiting will be able to see our kids compete. We’re a very strong track state and we have some indoor facilities here especially in Winston-Salem that is still fairly new, which is a very fast track and has a good surface that I like to compete on.”
The Penn State National meet is the first time A&T will run on a bank track, where the turns are elevated. That meet is significant because the NCAA championships will be run on a bank track.
“We’re also excited about conference, we’re excited about the MEAC, our guys are excited about going there and trying to win this thing,” said Ross about the Feb. 13-15 meet.