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N.C. A&T Is Coming Home

Courtesy: NC A&T Sports Information
          Release: 04/13/2017
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Junior Dajuan Harding is 25th in the East in the 400 meters.
Courtesy: NC A&T Sports Information

GREENSBORO (April 13, 2017)  – Temperatures in the low 40s and maximum wind-speeds nearing 50 miles per hour hampered the 2016 Aggie Invitational. But mother nature seems to be cooperating with the North Carolina A&T men’s and women’s outdoor track and field teams. Sunny skies are expected with temperatures in the high 70’s for their home debut – the 2017 Aggie Invitational – at Irwin Belk Track inside Aggie Stadium.

N.C. A&T’s meet starts Friday at 3 p.m., with the decathlon’s 100 meters. Saturday’s first event is the 9 a.m., triple jump, women’s discus and men’s shot put.  Running events starting at 11:00 a.m. with the women’s 4x100m relay.

Last weekend was all about sophomore Kayla White and her performances at the Spec Towns Invitational. White had a season debut and school record breaking time of 11.39 in the women’s 100m that puts her 10th in the East. White also assisted the women’s 4x100m relay team in setting a school record of 44.51 that now ranks 12th.

“I didn’t expect to run that fast so it was kind of surprising to me,” said White, who has been in recovery from a hamstring injury from the indoor season. “With a hamstring injury, it’s kind of mental. Mentally I had to work on telling myself I’m not hurt anymore and I’m going to fine but I was scared to run.”

White noted that only after her 200m run at the Florida Relays two weeks ago did she know she was mentally prepared for the season. Now this weekend, White’s mission is to also gain a qualifying mark in the top-48 for the 100m hurdles. Her season-low of 13.87 in the 100m hurdles is 68th in the east.

“My hurdle time sucked, but I just have to get back to practice and do more work,” said White. “I think it will be better at home this weekend.”

Going into their debut home meet, both the men’s and women’s outdoor track and field teams have something to prove. Coming off a men’s and women’s indoor Mid-Eastern Athletics Conference championship titles, and seeking the same for outdoor, the teams will use this meet as a preview for conference.

“We have conference here this year so this is going to be a good opportunity to showcase what we’re going to do in a month’s time,” said the director of track and field programs Duane Ross. “This is our territory and we’re not going to let anyone come in here and just do what they want to do and inflict their will on us.”

Looking at the rankings for the NCAA Division I East Outdoor Qualifying List (East regionals), however, it is more than clear that the Aggies are prepared for the task. Last week alone the Aggies claimed seven more positions on the East regionals’ top-48.

On the men’s side, senior Chris Belcher elevated to sixth in the East last weekend with a time of 10.24 in the 100m from the Spec Towns Invitational. Belcher also ranks 11th in the 200m after completing a 20.70 sprint in the event. At the same meet, senior Caleb Gabriel ran a 10.47 in the 100m that has him positioned 26th in the East and junior Dajuan Harding became 25th in the East in the men’s 400m after running a 47.13. Competing for the men in Charlotte last weekend, sophomore Nehemiah Lipford ended 37th in the East for the men’s high jump after leaping 6-feet, 9 ½-inches at the Johnson C. Smith University Invitational.

There will be many unattached runners, track clubs, non-collegiate track teams and collegiate track teams competing at the meet.

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