N.C. A&T Aggies Third in Nation at NCAA Track and Field Meet:Aggies’ Randolph Ross Fastest Time in the World this year for 400 Meters/A&T Women finish Fourth Nationally, with sprinter Cambrea Sturgis taking Two National Titles

N.C. A&T Aggies Third in Nation at NCAA Track and Field Meet:Aggies’ Randolph Ross Fastest Time in the World this year for 400 meters

Ross Jr. Wins Two National Championships
The Aggies take home national titles in the 400m and 4×400 relay.

EUGENE, Ore. – When asked what his strategy was in running his NCAA national championship-winning 400-meter race, freshman Randolph Ross Jr. mistakenly gave the world a small glimpse into one of track and field’s most important and extraordinary relationships.

“Me and my dad,” Ross Jr., said referring to his father and North Carolina A&T’s director of track field and field programs, Duane Ross.

“Well, me and my coach, sorry,” Ross Jr. said as he quickly changed Ross’s title. “We’ve been working on the first 350 (meters) because we know I’m strong.

We’ve been training for this all year. We knew if I got to 350 first, the rest would be easy.”

The relationship between father and son is close, and neither man shied away from it Friday night. Ross Jr. won the 400m NCAA national championship Friday at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at the newly renovated Hayward Field with a time of 43.85. It was the fastest time ran in the world this season, the second-fastest time ever ran at an NCAA championship meet and the third-fastest time in collegiate history.

Ross Jr. won the school’s first-ever national championship in an outdoor event. He is the first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) athlete to win a national title since Bethune-Cookman’s Ron Ash won the 110-meter hurdles in 2009.

And he wasn’t done.

Later in the evening, he helped the Aggies capture the 4×400-meter relay national championship as he joined junior Daniel Stokes and seniors Akeem Sirleaf and Trevor Stewart to run a 3:00.92 race.

The Aggies also had a fourth-place finish in the 4×100 and a ninth-place finish in the 200m. Ross Jr.’s performances in the 4×100, 4×400 and 400m helped the Aggies finish third nationally with 35 points, the highest finish ever for a Division I historically black college or university.

“This young man is special,” said Ross. “He’s nowhere near his full potential. I’m so proud of him and his national championships as a father and a coach.”

In March, the NCAA conducted two different 400m races for the national championship. Ross Jr. went out first and set the pace, running a 44.99. LSU’s Noah Williams ran in the second race and was able to catch up to Ross Jr.’s pace by winning the indoor 400m national championship in 44.71.

On Friday, there was one race. And this time, when Ross Jr. set the pace, there was no catching him.

When the runners came off the curve, Ross Jr. and Stewart, his teammate, went down the stretch 1,2. But even Stewart, who trains with Ross Jr. on a routine basis, seemed a bit thrown off by the pace set by Ross Jr.

Over the final 50 meters of the race, Ross Jr. sprinted out to a big lead as the two other viable national championship contenders in Williams of LSU and Stewart faded. Texas A&M’s Bryce Deadmon finished second (44.44), followed by Williams (44.93) and Stewart (44.96).

“I used to look at the TV and the Olympics and see runners run a ’43’,” said Ross Jr. “It’s crazy to look up and see yourself doing it. It’s a blessing.”

Ross Jr.’s 400m performance set social media on fire, and he did not let it simmer. Twitter caught ablaze again in the 4×400 when Ross Jr. took the baton on the second leg and took the Aggies from sixth place to first place in a matter of seconds. Once Ross Jr. gave N.C. A&T the lead, Sirleaf and Stewart grew the lead as the Aggies completed the 4×400 indoor and outdoor 2021 national championship sweep.

They were the best 4×400 team in the nation all season.

“We made an error early on in the relay that put us behind, but I never doubted these young men,” said Ross. “They wanted that championship too much. This relay is a part of them. It’s what we do.”

The Aggies now have four national championships, all under Ross’s leadership. Kayla White won the indoor women’s 200m title in 2019 to go along with the 4×400 sweep of 2021 and Ross Jr.’s outstanding 400m performance on Friday.

Sturgis Makes History, Wins Two National Championships at NCAAs
The Aggie women finished fourth nationally.

GREENSBORO – North Carolina A&T is an up-and-coming team. North Carolina A&T is on the come-up in track and field. North Carolina A&T is the best historically black college or university (HBCU) track and field program in the nation.

Duane Ross, N.C. A&T’s director of track and field programs appreciates all the compliments. But the compliments seem a little backhanded at this point.

On the final day of the 2021 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at the newly renovated Hayward Field at the University of Oregon, the Aggies added to their pile of evidence that their men’s and women’s track and field teams have arrived.

A day after the Aggie men finished third nationally, sophomore sprinter Cambrea Sturgis led the women to a fourth-place finish by winning national titles in the women’s 100 and 200 meters and having a third-place finish in the 4×100-meter relay.

The Aggies were the only school at the NCAA championships to have their men and women finish in the top-4 this week.

“We are an HBCU. We will always be an HBCU. That is who we are, that is our history, and we’re proud of that,” said Ross. “But that acronym needs to be retired if people are going to continue to misuse it. It’s almost like they are saying you guys are good for an HBCU. No, we’re good, period.

These young people are great because they decided to attend an HBCU, and they understand the importance of what they are accomplishing. They are not great in spite of.”

Great is the proper word to describe Sturgis’s Saturday afternoon in Eugene. After helping sophomore Kamaya Debose-Epps, freshman Jonah Ross and junior Symone Darius run a 43.03 in the 4×100, Sturgis entered track and field cream of the crop status.

Sturgis is the fastest woman in the NCAA after running the fastest all-weather time in NCAA history, a 10.74. It is the 11th-fastest time for a woman in world history.

“I was a little bit nervous,” said Sturgis as she described how she felt before the starter pistol went off for the 100m race. “Even though there were other good competitors, I knew I was just as good as them. I just went out there and ran my race.”

Sturgis then turned her attention to the 200m. She and High Point, N.C. native and University of Alabama sprinter Tamara Clark battle to the end. Sturgis pulled away slightly over the final 30 meters of the race and leaned forward to record a time of 22.12. Clark crossed in 22.17.

Sturgis’s 200m time on Saturday is the fourth-fastest time in NCAA history. Saturday marked the 13th time in NCAA history a women’s sprinter has won the national championship in the 100 and 200m. Sturgis is the first female athlete to win both since Oregon’s Ariana Washington did it in 2016.

“It just shows NCAT can be an elite school, and we can run with the best,” said Sturgis.

The Aggie women also had two participants in the 100-meter hurdles and one in the high jump. Senior Madeleine Akobundu finished fifth with a 12.90. Unfortunately, senior TeJyrica Robinson tripped over the final hurdle, but Ross complimented her because she got up and finished the race, which allowed the Aggies to finish fourth.

In the high jump, sophomore Kenady Wilson’s best jump was 5-feet, 10-inches to finish 20th.

“I think some of our competition is still struggling with the fact that we are better,” said Ross. “They should have been paying attention when I claimed it before it happened. We take what we do over here seriously like everybody else. We’re passionate about our track and field program. Our kids are passionate about what they do. This is nothing new for us. I know a lot of people are surprised about what we did this weekend, but they shouldn’t be.”