GREENSBORO — The North Carolina A&T women’s track and field team finished third last season at the MEAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships. This year, at A&T’s Irwin Belk Track, the Aggies finished eighth with 47 points.
The Aggie women also came away with no gold medals. Director of track and field programs Duane Ross is more than willing to acknowledge the drop in the standings.
“The way I saw it coming in, it wasn’t about winning right now,” Ross said. “We really had to develop a program. We needed to build the infrastructure first.”
Ross and his staff redshirted a few athletes. There was also some attrition as he worked to establish his tone and guidelines for the team. All of the changes resulted in the Aggies bringing the bare minimum of 14 female athletes to the conference championships. Out of all the changes, Ross is also quick to point out that his program now includes a freshman who finished third in the high jump and a freshman who finished third in the pole vault. Those are two events where the Aggies don’t have a rich history of success.
“It may not seem like it to those on the outside looking in, but we’re in the trenches every day, we’re definitely headed in the right direction,” Ross said.
During the final day of the championships on Saturday, Jade McCrary came in third in the pole vault with a jump of 8-feet. On Thursday, Nakita Gray finished third in the high jump.
There were also some fourth place finishes on Saturday. Despite having the slowest time of any 400 meter hurdle finalists coming in, junior Brittanie Morris finished fourth in 1:02.18. Also on the track, junior Roshel Bygraves placed fourth in the 400 meters in 54.97. Freshman Tiffany Ellick jumped 39-feet, 7-inches for a fourth-place finish in the triple jump. In the javelin, Jasmine Baskerville had a fourth-place finish.
“We had a lot of great performances,” said Ross. “I know we scaled down our team a lot, but I’m happy with that. Our goal is to build a balanced program because we’re not just eying MEAC championships, we’re eyeing (NCAA) regionals and we’re eyeing success in (NCAA) nationals.”