GREENSBORO (May 13, 2016) – North Carolina A&T men’s track and field got more good news today ahead of Sunday’s annual Aggie Last Chance Meet at N.C. A&T’s Irwin Belk Track.
It was confirmed by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association that the Aggie men are their highest ranked Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference team in history at No. 21. In fact, no MEAC team has ever reached the Top-25. In was also revealed that the N.C. A&T men have the highest ranked 100-meter team in the country. The ranking is determined by the top three 100 times for each team.
Junior Christopher Belcher has the No. 3 time in the nation at 10.07 (MEAC outdoor championships), junior Maurice Eaddy is ranked 19th nationally with a time of 10.27 (Georgia Invitational) and freshman Rodney Rowe is 28th in the country at 10.31 (MEAC outdoor championships) to make up the Aggies top ranking.
Even with all of the national notoriety the Aggies have received lately, there is still work to do. There are still a few Aggies hoping to qualify for NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round, May 26-28, in Jacksonville, Fla. To qualify athletes must rank top-48 individually or top-24 in relays. Expecting to attract nearly 600 competitors, this weekend’s last chance meet is scheduled to begin Sunday morning at 9 with field events followed by track events starting at 11 a.m.
“Sunday is the last day to get a qualifying time for regionals, so a lot of teams are coming in to try and get their marks down,” said director of track and field programs Duane Ross. “There are a lot of elite athletes coming because it’s an Olympic year so we actually created an unattached and a college race. We have so many people trying to race that we created two separate races so the college people can have more opportunities to run.”
Putting college athletes in preliminary events with unattached competitors lowers student-athletes’ chances of advancing to various finals, thus giving them one less opportunity to qualify for east regional, Ross explained.
Among the Aggies trying to earn a trip to Florida is freshman Lasheon Strozier who sits at 55th in the east in the triple jump with his season-high mark of 49-feet, 5 ¾-inches, earned at the Alan Shamrock Invitational in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Securing his season-best at the same event, sophomore Nehemiah Lipford currently ranks 74th in the high jump with his elevation of 6-feet, 8 ¾-inches.
Also from the men’s team, junior Caleb Gabriel will give last efforts in the sprints. Last year the combo football/track and field sprinter competed in the 100, 200, and 4x100 in the east regional and had season-lows of 10.29 and 21.70 in his individual events.
Gabriel will likely get to Florida to compete in the 4x1 as the team comes into the weekend ranked 11th regionally, but Gabriel’s time in the 100 is 10.53 and is listed 80th, while his sprint in the 200 is 60th at 21.70. “Caleb’s a little injured this year so he’s trying to get his time down,” said Ross.
For the distance runners, junior Darren White and sophomore Miranda Green will also be performing. White will tackle the men’s 3000m steeplechase, for which he holds the school record at 9:16.71. Green will compete in the women’s 1500. The Aggies will also have at least two competitors that have already qualified running in the home event. Eaddy (100) and freshman Kayla White (100mh) have already qualified for regionals, but will compete Sunday in hopes of improving their qualifying times.