JACKSONVILLE, Fla.- The North Carolina A&T men's track and field program had to battle through injury and mishaps, but they will send a few more athletes to Des Moines, Iowa for the 2012 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field National Championship.
The men's 4x100 meter relay team, consisting of Earl House, Darryl Williams, Jarrell Elliott and Torrance Womack, qualified for the semifinals with a time of 40.02. The men earned fourth place in their heat and tenth place overall.
"It was a blessing to be here, and it's even more of a blessing that we qualified for nationals for the third consecutive year," said House. "I think we did really well today, we just need to get the stick around better. The handoffs could be cleaner.
House said the team plans to work harder at practice next week to hopefully reach All-American status. The last Aggie relay team to earn All-American honors was the 4x100 meter relay team of Timothy Walls, Sean White, Titus Haywood and Gerald Wright who accomplished the feat in 2001.
In order to earn All-American honors the Aggies have to make it to the finals in Des Moines.
The women's version of the 4x100 (Shakia Forbes, Ruth Hunt, Jenea McCammon and Krystin Lawson) had a rough handoff in the second leg, which put them at a disadvantage.
"I feel very badly for the women's 4x100 team not making it, with three seniors on the squad," said interim director of track and field programs, James Daniels. "We didn't execute the handoff as well as we should have, which gave teams that we have beat all season long an opportunity to go to nationals. But that does not take away from the hard work and accomplishments they have had all year. We are very appreciative of the four years these ladies have given us."
The Aggies also fell short in the men's 200 meter dash quarterfinal. Womack sustained a muscle pull around the first curve and did not finish his race. Womack's injury prevented him from competing in the men's 4x400 meter relay team as well. Despite his absence, the Aggies ran a season-best 3:07.38. Their 16th place finish was not, however, enough to qualify for Des Moines.
"With not having (Womack) competing at full strength hurt us," said Daniels. "However, it proved we have a team with a lot of heart. I'm really proud of them. I know we can't think of woulda, coulda, shouldas; but if we would have had our normal four out there we would probably have the men's 4x400 team going to nationals as well," added Daniels.
The Aggies will be represented in two events at nationals, including the men's 400 meters with Jarrell Elliott and the men's 4x100 meter relay. Nationals begin June 6 and will be hosted by Drake University. A&T will return to Greensboro for a few days of rest before returning to the track later in the week to prepare for nationals. Daniels said he and the athletes plan to leave for Iowa on June 4.
"I am pleased with the people that we brought here. Unfortunately, we did not execute as well we could have in some races to move more athletes forward to the national championship," said Daniels. "However, it does not take away from the great job the team has done the entire year. They have all represented A&T extremely well."