CHAPEL HILL -- The North Carolina A&T men’s track and field team won the 2013 Gene Anderson Invitational with a total score of 128 points. The men finished ahead of the University of North Carolina (127), South Carolina State (102), N.C. State (86.50) and Virginia (53.50).
“It feels pretty good,” said Duane Ross, director of track and field programs. “Any time you can come into someone else’s house and get a win is impressive by any means. To come in and square off with these teams such as UNC, N.C. State, Virginia and S.C State, I think what it does is, what I’ve been trying to instill in our student-athletes from day one is, it enforces that belief factor, believing that we can compete with the best in the country at any time, but you have to believe that. We have the resources, we have the training now we just have to have the belief.”
The first-place win for the men came down to the last event, the 4x400 meter relay. Going into the 4x4, the men were down by three points against UNC. With the 4x4 A-team not being complete because some of the runners were sore from previous events during the day, the 4x4 B-team was chosen to compete.
The relay team knew that they could not place any lower than second in order to win the meet. The team of Barry Harris, Darius Bogertey, Jeffrey Lewis and Josiah Elliott earned second-place in 3:19.96.
“I think this one was a big one and this was one of the reasons I wanted to come to this competition,” said Ross. “I wanted them to see, these teams here that you see competing on television during the NCAA Final Four and football bowl games and what not we can go into their house and be just as good as they are.”
The meet came down to the final race because the Aggie men were able to obtain a number of first-place finishes. Junior Marquis Noble had an outstanding performance today placing top three in three different events.
Noble got first in the 200 meters with a personal-best time of 22.10. He also got first in the long jump with a personal best jump of 23-feet, 9 ½ inches. Both first-place finishes scored 10 points for the Aggie. In the 60 meter dash Noble placed second running 6.92 also bringing in eight points for the team.
In fact, the Aggies took 1, 2, and 3 in the 60-meter dash. Junior Desmond Lawrence placed first as he ran the 60 in 6.78. This time still guarantees him first place in the MEAC. Freshman Joshua Peoples rounded out the Aggies’ 60 trio with a personal-best time of 6.95.
Freshman Caleb Gabriel earned second in the 200 meters. Freshman Todd Townsend ran a personal-best 50.46 in the 400 meters for a second-place finish. Leonard Robbins finished behind Townsend in third with a time of 50.47.
In the jumps, junior Keenan Smith finished first in the triple jump with a personal-best jump of 49-feet, 7-inches. His brother Kendrick was third in the triple jump at 46-feet, 8 inches. Freshman Frank Quarles finished second in the long jump with a jump of 23-feet, 5 ¼ inches.
On the women’s side, senior Roshel Bygraves won the 400 meters with a time of 57.19. Sophomore Nakita Gray continued her strong showing in the high jump, finishing third with a mark of 5-feet, 8 ¾ inches.
The track and field team will compete again Saturday in Chapel Hill for the Joe Hilton Invitational before competing in the Winston-Salem State Open on Sunday.
“I’m all about preparation, getting us prepared for upcoming rounds at MEAC, at upcoming rounds at the NCAA championships,” said Ross. “Right now our athletes have to train their bodies to respond on demand. Here we are leaving and have to get right back up tomorrow morning and come back and hit it again. They have to be able to do this at these championship meets at a very high level so this is all about preparation for the future.”