GREENSBORO, N.C., — On the United States Track & Field and Cross-country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) website each week, they list the top five women’s and men’s outdoor track and field teams by listing the school, their placement and they place a graphic of their logo on top of the school name.
The North Carolina A&T State interlocking logo is one step away from being seen on the website.
Following a weekend where the N.C. A&T men’s and women’s outdoor track & field teams won their respective Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) championships held at N.C. A&T’s Irwin Belk Track, both men’s and women’s teams are ranked sixth nationally in USTFCCCA’s latest weekly poll.
Each team has the highest ranking of any Division I historically black college or university (HBCU) in the history of the USTFCCCA poll. Both teams are there because individuals from those teams posted some remarkable and historic times over the weekend.
“I’m excited for our kids,” said Duane Ross, N.C. A&T’s director of track & field programs. “They have worked hard this season. They understand that high rankings are a projection and the goal is to be NCAA champions.”
On the women’s side, the top five teams are Arkansas (SEC), Texas A&M (SEC), Southern Cal (Pac-12), Kentucky (SEC) and Oregon (Pac-12). The rankings are based on the number of individuals on a particular team who are highly ranked nationally in various events.
The Aggie women are No. 6 thanks in part to the fifth-fastest time ever ran in 100-meter collegiate history, a 10.96 by senior Kayla White. White has the No. 1 time in the nation in both the 100 and 200 meters (22.52) and the foursome of White, freshmen Cambrea Sturgis and Kamaya Debose-Epps and junior Taliyah Townsend, have the second-fastest 4×100-meter relay time in the nation (43.45).
Sturgis, in fact, is on the heels of her senior teammate as a freshman. Sturgis is third in the country in the 200 (22.62) and ninth in the 100 (11.19). Junior Madeleine Akobundu also makes an appearance in the top five nationally, ranking third in the country in the 100-meter hurdles at 12.81.
In all, N.C. A&T has 14 times or marks in the Top 50 nationally. Six of their times are in the top five. They moved up 18 spots from their No. 24 ranking last week.
The Aggie men moved up 13 spots from their No. 19 ranking from a week ago. Only Texas Tech (Big 12), LSU (SEC), BYU (WCC), Florida (SEC) and Texas A&M (SEC) are ranked higher. Junior Trevor Stewart is the focal point of history on the men’s side. Stewart ran an incredible 44.38 to win the men’s 400 meters this past weekend — posting the 14th-fastest time in world history.
Stewart is also seventh in the country in the 200 with a time of 20.27.
Senior Rodney Rowe is the Aggies’ top man in the 200. He ran a personal-best 20.12 to win the MEAC outdoor 200 last Saturday, ranking him second in the nation. Rowe is fourth in the nation in the 100 after a come-from-behind win in the 100-meter final that saw him post a 10.05.
Another Aggie, junior Akeem Sirleaf, also finds himself ranked in the Top 10 nationally of the 200 at No. 9.
Sirleaf’s best time is 20.37, also recorded at the MEAC Outdoor Championships. Sirleaf also makes a top-10 performance in the 400 at No. 6 with a time of 45.42.
There are two other top-10 times for the Aggies. Senior Michael Dickson is 10th nationally in the 110-meter hurdles at 13.65. Even though he did win the 110-meter hurdles championship last weekend, his 13.65 was recorded at the Aggie Invitational on April 12 at Irwin Belk Track.
The 4×100-meter relay team of Sirleaf, Stewart, Dickson, and Rowe are ranked seventh nationally at 39.14, a time they recorded at LSU.
In all, the Aggies have 15 marks or times in the nation’s top-50.
The NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round (regionals) is the next step for both teams, May 23-25 at the University of North Florida. From there, the Aggies will move on to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, June 5-8, where they have legitimate chances to win individual and team national titles.