GREENSBORO - North Carolina A&T is set to host the 2012 MEAC Men's and Women's Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
The three-day competition will begin this Thursday, May 3 at 1p.m., at Irwin Belk Track with the men's decathlon. Friday and Saturday's events start at 9 a.m. For a complete schedule of events visit the conference website, MEACSports.com. Admission is free.
Although the Aggies plan on being gracious hosts to its fellow MEAC athletes, James Daniels and his team are competing to win.
"It is an honor for our program and our institution to be the site for MEAC outdoor championship this year," said James Daniels, interim director of track and field programs.
"I expect the whole team to perform well. I don't have any athlete in particular in mind to compete well, I am preparing for all individuals to perform well. Our goal in any track meet is to qualify for the finals. Getting a championship is not possible without bodies. The more people we have reach the finals the better chance we have at winning," added Daniels.
The Aggies have plenty of talented bodies in their men's relay races. The men's 4x200 meter relay team of Earl House, Jarrell Elliott, Darryl Williams and Torrance Womack recently finished fourth at the Penn Relays as they advanced to the Championship of America events.
The same foursome is ranked No. 1 in the conference in the 4x100 meter relay thanks to a 40.13 time they secured at the Florida Pepsi Relays.
The 4x400 meter relay team is also solid. D'Mitri Bouttry, House, Elliott and Womack recorded a time of 3:08.71 at the Florida Relays for the fourth best time in the MEAC.
Individually, Elliott will be one to watch. In addition to his standout efforts in the relay races, He is ranked No. 1 in the 400 meters with a time of 45.87. Elliott ran that time at the 2012 International Friendship & Freedom Games. It is good enough for 12th nationally, and it earned him a spot in the Olympic Trials.
In the 200 meters, Womack and Elliott are highly ranked in the conference. Womack and Elliott are ranked No. 4 and 5 in the 200 meters with Womack's best time being a 20.86 ran at the IFFG.
Parris Simmons' 800 meter time is just two seconds off the best time in the MEAC this season. Simmons finished the 800 with a time of 1:50.58 at the IFFG.
In the field events, Jared Baldwin and the Smith brothers will try to score in two different events. As a triple jumper, Baldwin's best jump was 23-feet, 8-inches. That is second best jump on the Aggies this season after Kendrick Smith jumped 23-feet, 11 ½ inches at the IFFG. In the long jump, brother Keenan Smith jumped 50-feet, 7 ½ inches for the best leap in the MEAC this season. Baldwin is second in the MEAC as his best jump came in the IFFG at 49-feet, 5 ½ inches.
While the Aggie male relay teams have earned a lot of attention for their exploits, there is a women's relay team that is also excellent. Shakia Forbes, Ruth Cassandra-Hunt, Jenea McCammon and Krystin Lawson ran a 45.53 at the Pepsi Florida Relays for the No. 1 time in the MEAC this season.
Individually, Forbes will be going for her third straight MEAC long jump title after an indoor season where she earned All-American honors. McCammon is the top 400 meter hurdler in the conference thus far. She had a time of 1:00.40 at the IFFG as she goes for her first gold medal at the MEAC's. Teammate Dotrine Jacobs is ranked third in the MEAC.
In the other women's hurdles event, the 100 meter hurdles, Jacobs has the second and seventh best times in the MEAC. Her best time is 13.85 at the IFFG, but Hampton's Breana Norman ran a 13.79 at the Raleigh Relays in March.
In the throws, Sydni Cobb will be the Aggies best chance to score. She is ranked fourth in the MEAC in the shot put and sixth in the discus.
"We have been trying to prepare ourselves to run multiple events," explained Daniels. "We do not have the depth at this moment that we need, however we have addressed those needs in recruiting already for next year. Each athlete will compete in his or her primary event, as well as a secondary event in order for us to get the points we need to win."
The Aggies will be trying to wrestle away the MEAC title from the likes of Norfolk State, who has been dominant on the men's and women's side.