EAST GREENSBORO – The North Carolina A&T men put themselves in position to win another Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) outdoor track and field title, but the women may have more of an uphill climb to get there.
During the second of the MEAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at N.C. A&T’s Irwin Belk Track, the Aggie men had the top qualifying time in the 100 meters, the 110-meter hurdles, the 400m and the 800m. They head into the final day on Saturday in second place trailing the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats 91-67.
The Aggie men will also have a good showing in the men’s 200 and 400 on Saturday. Junior Trevor Stewart was the standout on Friday for the men after he ran the fastest 400 in the country this year at 44.40 to qualify for Saturday’s final. His teammate, junior Akeem Sirleaf was second in the prelims at 45.91.
Two more Aggies will appear in the 400 final with senior Justin Hamilton finishing fifth (45.60) and junior Kemarni Mighty (47.20) finishing eighth. Senior Rodney Rowe had another great showing at Irwin Belk.
Three weeks after running a 10.10 at the Aggie Invitational in the 100, Rowe had the fastest qualifying time at the MEAC outdoor at 10.08. Senior Michael Dickson will join him in the final.
On the women’s side meanwhile, defending MEAC champion Florida A&M has 120.5 points while the Aggies have 51.5 to trail second-place B-CU (75) and FAMU.
But like the men, there are a lot of points out there to be gained by the Aggie women. The Aggies had the top qualifying time on Friday in the 100mh and the 400m.
There were some victories on Friday for the Aggies. Junior Madeleine Akobundu won the women’s long jump with a jump of 20-feet, 4 ½-inches. Akobundu also had the fastest qualifying time in the 100mh with a time of 12.87. She will be joined in Saturday’s final with junior TeJyrica Robinson (13.23) and freshman Paula Salmon (13.51) who finished second and third respectively in the preliminaries.
Sophomore Aaron Wilkerson took the men’s shot put at 54-feet, 5 ½ inches. It was the best outdoor throw of his career. Freshman Obie Taylor finished sixth and earned the Aggies six points in the event at 49-feet, 1-inch.
Senior Derrick Wheeler won the men’s hammer with his best throw going 178-feet, 1-inch. Sophomore Kevin Fofanah finished second at 165-feet, 6-inches.
Junior G’Jasmyne Butler claimed her first-ever conference outdoor title when she won the women’s 3000m steeplechase with a personal-best time of 11:23.22. Freshman Regan Kimtai had a third-place finish in the men’s 3000m steeplechase with a time of 9:37.16.
In other field events, sophomore Loren James posted eight points for the Aggies with a second-place finish in the women’s shot put. James has scored 18 points for the Aggies at the championships after her fourth-place finish in the discus on Thursday and a fourth-place finish in the hammer throw on Friday.
Junior Brandon Hicklin had a second-place finish in the men’s long jump to put up eight points. Hicklin jumped a personal-best 25-feet, 6 ¾-inches.
Those points will go along nicely with the points the Aggies are expected to score on Saturday. The Aggies advanced two to the 110mh with senior Michael Dickson leading the way at 13.79. Junior Robert Miller will also compete in the final after posting the fourth-fastest qualifying time at 14.16.
Juniors Tori Ray and Sun-Sara Williams will lead the way in the women’s 400. Ray had the fastest time in the prelim at 52.89 while Williams followed her in second at 53.95. Ray and Williams posted personal-best times on Friday.
Kimtai had the fastest-qualifying time in the men’s 800 at 1:51.31. Junior Kristoni Barnes will be the lone Aggie in the women’s 800 after she ran a qualifying time of 2:07.82 to finish second in the prelims.
The Aggies will have three ladies in the 100 final with Kayla White leading the way with a run of 11.16 to have the second-fastest qualifying time. She will be joined by freshmen Cambrea Sturgis and Kamaya Debose-Epps and junior Taliyah Townsend.
Saturday’s field events begin at 9:30 a.m., while the first event on the track starts at 1 p.m., with the women’s 4x100-meter relay.