EAST GREENSBORO (January 10, 2019) – The North Carolina A&T indoor men’s track and field team heads into Friday (Jan. 11) and Saturday’s (Jan. 12) Virginia Tech Invitational at Rector Fieldhouse as the 18thranked team in the nation by the United States Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
The organization released its rankings this week with the Texas Tech Red Raiders as the No. 1 team in the nation followed by Florida, Florida State, Texas and Georgia in the top-5. The Aggies find themselves ranked ahead of No. 19 Texas A&M followed by No. 20 Illinois, No. 21 Arizona, No. 22 North Dakota State, No. 23 Campbell, No. 24 Kansas State and No. 25 Ohio State.
Even though the Aggies already have an indoor track meet completed this season, the JDL College Kick-off in December, the USTFCCCA poll is a preseason poll. Therefore, the Aggies strong showing is based on some of the talented athletes the Aggies have returning for the 2019 season as they try to win their third consecutive Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) title.
Junior Jaylen Mitchell had the third-best 60-meter time in the country last season (6.59), while senior Michael Dickson ranked No. 3 nationally in the 60-meter hurdles (7.63) in 2018. Senior Rodney Rowe ranked 11thnationally in the 200m (20.74) and 26thin the 60m (6.67). Senior Lasheon Strozier gave the Aggies credibility in a field event by ranking 15thin the triple jump (52-feet, 3 ¼-inches).
Neither Mitchell, Dickson, Rowe or Strozier competed at the JDL College Kick-off in Winston-Salem last month. Dickson, Rowe and Strozier will make their season debuts this weekend in Virginia.
While the veterans did not compete in December, the rookies were certainly active. Freshman Brandon Hicklin jumped 23-feet, 10-inches in the men’s long jump to break the JDL College Kick-off meet record. His effort helped him earn male athlete of the week from the MEAC. In total, the Aggie men won five events at JDL.
On the women’s side at JDL, the women also won five events including the high jump. Sophomore Nazah Reddick jumped 5-feet, 8 ¾-inches to break the meet record.
The women will also compete this weekend at Virginia Tech. The Aggie women are ranked 70thnationally behind the strength of senior Kayla White and junior Madeleine Akobundu. The N.C. A&T women will also be going after their third straight MEAC indoor title this season.
White, who had a superb junior season in indoor and outdoor, ranked 11thlast season in the 60mh (8.06). Akobundu had two top-25 finishes. She was 24thnationally in the 60mh (8.22) and 25thin the long jump (20-feet, 2 ½-inches). Both White and Akobundu will make their respective season debuts at Virginia Tech.
Eleven other schools will compete against the Aggies in Blacksburg, Va., this weekend including the hosting Hokies, Wake Forest, Radford (women only), UNC Charlotte, Campbell, Norfolk State, VCU, UNC Greensboro, Winthrop, Towson and Roanoke College. Admission is free and free parking is available in the lots surrounding Rector Field House.
The first events of the day are the women’s and men’s triple jumps and the women’s 60mh starting 5 p.m., Friday at Rector. Saturday’s first event will be the women’s high jump at 11 a.m. The first event on the track is the women’s 400m at 1 p.m.