Aggie Women Hope Saturday Finals Lead to Title
GREENSBORO (May 5, 2017) – The North Carolina A&T women's outdoor track and field team didn't score many points on Day 2 of the 2017 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Championships, but they continued to show ownership of the sprints and middle distance events by advancing several to Saturday finals. On Friday, the women saw their first victory as freshman Madeleine Akobundu conquered the long jump in 19-feet, 10 ½-inches, scoring 10 points.
“It feels really good because I didn't think I would be able to do it again,” said Akobundu, acknowledging that she also garnered first-place in the long jump at the MEAC indoor championships in February. “With the way my ankle was feeling when I came in, I didn't think I would be able to get that much of a jump off it. I felt like I could have done a lot better but my ankle wouldn't let me.”
Even though Akobundu's personal record sits nearly a foot ahead of her best jump on Friday, the coaches recognized she did not need to strain to win the competition, so they limited her rounds. Akobundu was joined in the long jump by sophomore Anisa Toppin who placed fourth in the event with a PR of 18-feet, 10-inches. Toppin secured five additional points for the team while defeating her previous best of 18-feet, 6 ½-inches. The other points for the team were secured in the women's heptathlon and the 3000m steeplechase. Junior Imani McGhee earned three points for the team after totaling 4,362 in the heptathlon for a sixth-place finish. Freshman Camille Martin (11:27.49) and junior Miranda Green (11:44.04) capped off the day with respective third and fourth-place finishes in the 3000m steeplechase that gathered another 11 points.
N.C. A&T heads into the final day of the conference outdoor championships on Saturday in sixth place with 29 points. The Aggies are 38 points behind first-place Hampton, but N.C. A&T's director of track and field programs Duane Ross likes what he has lined up in Saturday's finals.
“I think if our ladies perform as expected, we're going to be okay,” said Ross. “We've got a lot of our sprinters going tomorrow, so that's to our advantage.”
The women advanced eight women in the sprints and middle distance events with each lady qualifying in the Top-5. Sophomore Kayla White qualified first in the 100-meter hurdles in 13.50. Her time was followed by junior Morgan Knight's new PR of 13.58(w), qualifying her second. White later qualified second in the 100m prelims in 11.42 behind junior teammate India Brown who had the fastest qualifying time in 11.38. Sophomore Yakira Love also qualified in the women's 100m as her prelim marker of 11.61 fell in fifth amongst the competition.
The women also saw two advance to the 800m final with freshmen Kristoni Barnes (2:12.09) and G'Jasymne Butler (2:12.82) respectively seeding second and third. Lastly, freshman Tori Ray advanced to the 400m final, finishing fifth in 54.83.
“We have to sweep everything tomorrow, there's no other option,” said Akobundu. “We have to make sure everyone is on their A-game and getting the points that we need. If indoor taught me anything, it's that the last day is the best day because that's when you have all the finals and where all the points are coming from.”
On Saturday, the events will continue at 9:00 a.m. with the women's pole vault.