GREENSBORO -- The North Carolina A&T track and field teams will return to a familiar place for its second meet. In fact, it will be in the same location as their first. It is the same place where the Aggies dominated in December – the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem where the Wake Forest Invitational will be held.
The field events will begin at 9:30 a.m. and the running events 30 minutes later.
The last time the Aggies were there they had three first-place finishes and broke a meet record. Sophomore Nakita Gray placed first in the women’s high jump with a jump of 5-feet, 8 ¾ inches. Gray’s jump has also ranked her first in the MEAC.
Senior Roshel Bygraves placed first in the women’s 500 meters with a time of 1:15.59. Freshman Frank Quarles also placed first in the men’s long jump with a jump of 23-feet, 2 ¾ inches. Going into the weekend, it is the fourth-best mark in the MEAC.
Freshman Josiah Elliott broke the collegiate 500 meters record with a time of 1:05.04 placing second behind Olympian Michael Bingham (1:04.57). Other performances from the meet ranked some Aggies among the best in the MEAC.
Sophomore Cliff Obodo is ranked first in the men’s high jump at 6-feet, 6 inches. Junior Omozopkia Olumese is first in the pole vault at 11-feet, 11 ¾ inches. Freshman Todd Townsend is ranked second in the men’s 60 meter hurdles at 8.17.
Junior Saeed Jones is ranked second in the one-mile run at 4:19.57. Freshman Dorian Claggett is ranked third in the MEAC after his 48.74 run in the 400 meters. Senior Kendrick Smith is ranked first in the triple jump with a jump of 48-feet, 1¼ inches. Junior Marquis Noble is third in the 60 meter dash at 6.91.
“The good long break is what concerns me that’s why we chose to do this meet early,” said Duane Ross, A&T’s director of track and field programs. “We wanted to get our kids back, let them get a race in early before the season really takes off; shake out those kinks and those bugs and get them moving around again.
Ross said even though he knows the majority of his team worked out over the Christmas break, there is always the question of did they workout with the same intensity they would have if they were back at school?
“I doubt,” he said. “But that’s break is for, to take a break so we just wanted to get them back here and get them back in the routine of things, training and getting ready to race.”
Junior Desmond Lawrence, who qualified and ran the 100 meters at the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round and freshman Caleb Gabriel will be opening up this weekend in the 60 meters and 200 meters. Both are multiple-sport athletes at North Carolina A&T, participating in football and track and field.
“I think this competition is going to be a little bit more competitive than the last,” said Ross. “I think a lot of the other schools have the same thing in mind, getting their kids back, getting them going early, so you know that’s what we want. Every competition we go to we want it to be competitive so we’re excited about it.”
The Wake Forest meet will also feature some MEAC schools, including S.C. State and Norfolk State.
“Our goal is to become a national caliber team,” said Ross. Yes, we want to win conference but at the same time you know I want to race against the best in the country every weekend. If I could I would want every weekend to be against the best teams in the country. We seek out the competition. That’s the only way that we are going to get better.”