National Titles In Belcher's Sight After Day 1
EUGENE, Ore. (June 7, 2017) – It was a successful first day of the 2017 NCAA Division Track and Field Championships for the North Carolina A&T men's track and field team at Historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon. Leading the way for the Aggies was senior sprinter Christopher Belcher. Belcher, who qualified for the 100 and 200 meters and the 4x100 meter relay at the NCAA nationals, has a chance to win a national championship in all three on Friday.
Belcher qualified for the finals first in the 4x100 meter relay. Along with senior Caleb Gabriel, sophomore Rodney Rowe and freshman Jaylen Mitchell, the foursome ran a 38.48 for the second-fastest time in the nation this year. Auburn just beat the Aggies by running a 38.47 as Rowe lost by a slight lean at the end. The Aggies not only broke the school record but their own Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference record after breaking it two weeks earlier at the NCAA East Preliminary Round. They also ran the ninth-fastest time in NCAA history. By making the final, all four men earned first-team All-American honors. They will go for the national title in the 4x1 on Friday at 8:32 p.m., eastern standard time. The Aggies will face Oregon, Texas A&M, Auburn, Houston, LSU, Arkansas and Texas in the final.
Belcher also showcased his talent in the 100 meters. After Tennessee's Christian Coleman ran a collegiate record 9.82 in the second heat of the 100, Belcher wasn't shaken. He sent a message that he wasn't intimidated by running the sixth-fastest time in collegiate history at 9.93. His 9.93 marks the second time this season he went below 10 seconds and it is the second-fastest time in the country this season behind Coleman. Belcher won the third heat over Arkansas State's Jaylen Bacon who ran 10.02. Belcher, who also has earned All-American honors in the 100, will go for the national title 9:22 p.m., Friday (EST).
Belcher topped off his day in the 200 meters by running the fastest qualifying time in the semis with a 20.01. He won the third heat over Coleman of Tennessee who ran 20.21. It is a personal record for Belcher, and it missed breaking a 39-year old MEAC record by one-tenth of a second as S.C. State's Rocky Cunningham still holds the mark. The 200m final on Friday is at 10:07 p.m. (EST).
“I wasn't so much concerned about times today, I just wanted to get into finals,” said Belcher. “We will just have to see what happens on Friday. There are a lot of fast people out there, and I have three events again so it's going to be tough. The three events are not a big deal to me because the 4x1 gets me warmed up.”
The Aggies two other competitions on Wednesday. Junior Dajaun Harding finished 21st overall in the country in the 400 meters as he ran a 46.66 in Heat 1. Harding returned to the track later in the day along with sophomore Justin Hamilton, senior Dorian Claggett and freshman Najee Reems to finish 18th nationally with a time of 3:08.66.
Thursday will be the ladies' turn. Junior India Brown will compete in the 100, 200 and 4x1 while sophomore Kayla White will compete in the 100mh and the 4x1.