LANDOVER, Md. (February 17, 2018) – The North Carolina A&T men’s and women’s indoor track and field team entered the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference history books by becoming the second school in conference history to repeat both squads as conference champions.
The Aggie men won the 2018 conference championship by claiming five titles on Saturday to total 144 points. N.C. A&T won gold in the 200 meters, 60-meter hurdles, mile, triple jump and the 4x400 relay. They won silver in the 400m and 60m while earning bronze in the 60m, shot put and distance medley relay.
Duane Ross, N.C. A&T’s director of track and field programs, was recognized as the 2018 MEAC Men’s Indoor Track & Field Coach of the Year for the second consecutive year.
The Aggies had a tougher time this season than last as they posted 144 points to outlast Hampton’s 111 points. Bethune-Cookman (97.50), Norfolk State (68.50) and Florida A&M (56) rounded out the top-5.
“This was one of the most competitive MEAC championships we've competed in,” said Ross. “Congratulations to both Bethune-Cookman and Hampton who didn't make it easy. Our jumps crew performed well as they came away with wins in the men's and women's triple jump. Each and every one of our athletes left everything they had on the track this weekend. We had multiple athletes step up in various events, which should be the case in a championship meet.”
Junior Lasheon Strozier repeated as MEAC triple jump by having his best jump measure 49-feet, 6 ½ inches. He was followed by senior Marquise McGee pulling an upset in the mile run. McGee made a last-lap move for the lead holding off the runner-up Emanuel Too from Hampton to win gold with a time of 4:21.61. Senior Corey Aiken (4:22.52) placed fifth to put more crucial points on the board for the Aggies in the mile.
“Marquise McGee set the tone for the rest of the competition by coming up big by winning the mile,” said Ross. “Todd Townsend showed true leadership this weekend. It wasn't just what he did on the track by winning the heptathlon and finishing third in the hurdles but how he led and inspired his teammates.”
In the 400m, senior Dajuan Harding (48.16) placed second and freshman Trevor Stewart (52.19) placed seventh. The Aggies won silver and bronze in the 60m behind sophomore Jaylan Mitchell (6.66) and junior Rodney Rowe (6.74). Sophomore Joel Thomas (6.78) followed both Mitchell and Rowe in fifth place. After a silver medal a year ago, Rowe won gold in the 200m finals with a time of 21.36.
Aaron Wilkerson’s 52-feet, 4 ¾ inches third-place finish in the shot put was the Aggies first podium finish of the day. Derrick Wheeler was eighth in the shot put at 47-feet, 4 ½ inches).
The 4x4 team of Rowe, Stewart, Johnson, Harding came from behind and won gold crossing the finish line at 3:14.60.
The throws were huge in the Aggies claiming the title. Derrick Wheeler came through in the weight throw by recording a 59-foot, 3-inch throw to beat Bethune-Cookman’s Sidney Holston by an inch. Aaron Wilkerson’s 52-feet, 4 ¾ inches third-place finish in the shot put was the Aggies first podium finish of the day. Wheeler was eighth in the shot put at 47-feet, 4 ½ inches).
“Derrick Wheeler had the biggest throw of his career in the weight throw to win,” said Ross.
N.C. A&T will turn their attention to qualifying athletes for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, March 9-10 in College Station, Texas. The Aggies will then try to repeat as women’s and men’s MEAC champions in outdoor track and field.