A&T Begins Its Chase For Outdoor Glory
GREENSBORO (March 12, 2017) – Rather than starting their season in South Carolina like they have the previous two years, the 2017 North Carolina A&T men’s and women’s outdoor track and field team will be kicking things off at the Black and Gold Challenge hosted by the University of Central Florida. The meet, to be held in Orlando, Fla. March 17-18, is only the first of three trips that the teams plan to make to Florida this season—typically they have one.
“If my goals are to get to the NCAA championships, we need to make sure that we’re competing at that level all year long,” said the director of track and field programs, Duane Ross. “So we’re going to travel a little more. When you come to nationals our job as coaches is basically done, and then everything else is on the athletes. We as a staff have to make sure we do our part and prepare them before that.”
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After the Black and Gold Challenge, the teams will compete at the Raleigh Relays March 24-25. If stiff competition is what Ross is seeking, his Aggies will find it here. The University of Virginia, North Carolina State, Duke, and the University of North Carolina are among the many top schools from the southeast region who will bring athletes.
Following the Raleigh Relays, the Aggies return to Florida for the Florida Relays, March 31-April 1. Many teams that ended ranked top-25 in the nation last season including Florida, Florida State, Oregon, Alabama, Tennessee are expected to compete. The next two weeks consist of local meets.
They travel to Johnson C. Smith University for the JCSU Invitational in at JCSU’s Irwin Belk Track in Charlotte, N.C., on April 8 before competing at home in the Aggie Invitational, April 14. As a split team, several Aggies head to Gainesville, Fla., again for the Tom Jones Invitational April 21-22. The remaining team members will go to the Georgia Tech Invitational in Atlanta, Ga. on the same dates. After their last stint in Florida for the season, the teams will take a week off before their next two meets at N.C. A&T’s Irwin Belk Track.
For the ninth consecutive year, the Aggies will host the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Outdoor Track and Field Outdoor Championships. The event starts May 4 and concludes May 6 as the track field teams will try to make it four track championships in one year after the men’s and women’s teams won their respective MEAC indoor championships in February. But indoor is indoor and outdoor is outdoor.
“There’s nothing to defend in outdoor because indoor and outdoor are two separate sports,” said Ross. “We made history in indoor, but now we have to go back out here, get to work, and chase this one.”
The women are looking for their first title in 22 years while the men will try to win for the first time since finishing out a three-peat in 1996. Before the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round (regionals) the Aggies have one more home meet, the Aggie Last Chance Meet, on May 14.
The NCAA east regional will take place May 25-27 in Lexington, Ky., and the NCAA outdoor championships, June 7-10, are in Eugene, Ore. Last year the Aggies finished second at MEAC outdoor and the women were fourth. Sixteen athletes qualified for regionals. Fifteen of those athletes are on the 2017 roster.