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Outdoor Season Begins Friday For A&T

Courtesy: NC A&T Sports Information
          Release: 03/20/2014
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Nakita Gray looks to improve upon her freshman season where she qualified for the NCAA regional. Photo by Dr. Michael Simmons
Courtesy: NC A&T Sports Information

GREENSBORO -- The North Carolina A&T track and field teams will be opening their outdoor season this weekend at the 49er Classic in Charlotte, N.C. The men had a great finish during the indoor season placing third overall with a 95-point finish, highest points in A&T track and field history.

Individually, junior Desmond Lawrence picked up a few accolades during indoor. Lawrence won the MEAC 60-meter dash championship in 6.78 in February, and he also won the George Mason Last Chance meet in Fairfax, Va., after being the only Aggie to travel there. Lawrence finished the indoor season ranked 30th in the nation with a season-best 6.70 time.

Lawrence recently received a letter from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Association for being two-tenths of a second away from being the top indoor track and field athlete that is also a football player.

“Desmond has progressed tremendously from last season to now,” said Duane Ross, A&T’s director of track and field programs. “Making that transition from football to track isn’t easy due to the fall training missed. However, his transition has been excellent, all due to the discipline he has this season.  All that remains for Desmond to be one of the best in the world is for Desmond to decide that he wants to be the best in the world.”

Now Lawrence and his teammates are ready to transition to the outdoor season starting with the 17th annual 49er Classic. The meet will begin on Thursday morning at 11 with just two events taking place, the heptathlon and decathlon. Friday the field events are scheduled to start at 11a.m., with the running events starting at 1p.m.

“Training has been hit or miss because of the weather, so we are looking forward to some good weather and good competition,” said Ross. “I think our young ladies have definitely improved from indoor, so I think they have a chip on their shoulders and they are looking to do a whole lot better than what they did indoors.

“I think our guys are hungry, I think that they needed the loss indoors (MEAC meet), especially our freshmen,” Ross continued. “They are going into the outdoor season with a new attitude. You can tell they grew just during an indoor season.”

The cold weather Greensboro has been receiving lately has caused the Aggies to adjust and make changes to the workouts.

“It affects us a lot. We don’t complain about it because obviously there are other teams that have to deal with it as well, but the realism is that it does affect how we train. We’ve had to back off some of the speed work that we’ve been doing and focus a little bit more on strength and volume so which could turn out to be a little bit more beneficial for us towards the end of the season, we just have to see, so that’s why this first meet is a good gage to see where we are.”

Fifth-year seniors Jessica Farr and Darryl Williams will be opening up this weekend. Both sat out last year’s outdoor season to add depth to the 2014 outdoor teams.

“We’re happy for Jessica and Darryl,” Ross said. “I think they are excited to compete with the Aggie on their chest again. I think redshirting them was a good idea. We are excited to have them back. Darryl is a true leader. Jessica, she’s going to provide a much needed input of energy and senior leadership that the women need as well.”

 “We’re looking forward to it, it’s going to be a good meet, it’s a crowded meet from my understanding, it’s going to be a lot of competition. It’s a good opening for us, it’s going to tell us where we are and if the weather has really affected us over the last couple months.”

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