JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It was ladies’ night at the University of North Florida. And like their male counterparts, the North Carolina A&T women’s outdoor track and field team came to the party looking to smash records.
On Day 4 of the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round at Hodges Stadium on Saturday, sophomore Cambrea Sturgis led the Aggies’ pathway to the NCAA Division I Track and Field Championships to be held in Eugene, Ore., June 9-12.
N.C. A&T will send nine ladies to compete in six different events.
Sturgis will be one of three Lady Aggies representing N.C. A&T in three different events at NCAA nationals. Sturgis posted the fastest qualifying time in the women’s 100-meter quarterfinal, winning her heat in 10.92.
Over the last 20 meters, Sturgis pulled away from LSU’s Symone Mason to record the second-fastest 100m time in NCAA east regional history. Aleia Hobbs of LSU ran a 10.90 in 2018 to set the standard.
Sturgis did break the Hodges Stadium facility record previously held by LSU’s Sha’Carri Richardson who ran 10.99 in 2019. Sturgis also established a new personal best in the 100.
She also ran the anchor leg on the Aggies impressive 4×100-meter relay team. Junior Symone Darius, freshman Jonah Ross, and sophomore Kamaya Debose-Epps joined Sturgis as the foursome finished their heat in 42.92.
LSU competed in the same heat and ran a 42.63 for the fourth-fastest time in east regional history. The Aggies were not too bad themselves, posting the sixth-fastest time in east regional history. It was the best 4×100 time of any N.C. A&T women’s team in regional history, besting the 2019 Aggies 4×100 team’s 43.41 by Sturgis, Kayla White, Tori Ray and Debose-Epps.
The day did not end there for Sturgis, however. She had an incredible come-from-behind win in her 200m heat against LSU’s Favour Ofili. When Ofili made the turn at 100 meters, she held a substantial lead over Sturgis.
But over the final 50 meters, Sturgis started to gain steam. When both runners reached the finish line, Sturgis leaned out ahead to finish with a personal-best 22.26. She finished ahead of Ofili’s 22.30.
Sturgis recorded the third-fastest 200m time in east regional history with her burst at the end. She now owns N.C. A&T’s top two east regional times after she posted a 22.52 in 2019. Alabama’s Tamara Clark ran the fastest 200m qualifying time at 22.13, establishing a new east regional record.
Ross and Debose-Epps will join Sturgis as Aggies who qualified in three different events for nationals. Ross is headed to Eugene to compete in the 4×100, 4×400 and the 200m after she ran a personal-best 22.87.
Ross’s 4×400 team on Saturday consisted of juniors Delecia McDuffie, Paula Salmon and Darius. They qualified with a time of 3:34.72. It marked the Aggies’ best 4×400 time of the season.
In addition to qualifying for nationals as a member of the 4×100 team, Debose-Epps will also compete in the 100 and 200m. She finished her 100m heat on Saturday with a personal-best 11.31. Her qualifying time in the 200m was a personal-best 22.91.
Debose-Epps will be making her second nationals appearance in the 200m and 4×100. She earned first-team All-American honors in the 4×100 in 2019.
At the beginning of the season, the Aggies expected to have three 100-meter hurdles in Oregon. That trio did not disappoint. Seniors TeJyrica Robinson and Madeleine Akobundu and Salmon all qualified for nationals. All three finished with times that rank in the top-20 all-time in east regional history.
Robinson ran a personal-best 12.83, posting Saturday’s second-fastest qualifying time. It is the fastest 100mh time ever ran by an Aggie at an east regional. It is the 10th-fastest time in east regional history. Not too far behind was Akobundu’s season-best 12.84, the 11th-fastest time in east region history. Salmon is in after posting a personal-best 12.884 in her heat. Salmon is 16th all-time in east regional history.
Like the men, the Aggie women will also send an athlete to nationals to compete in a field event. Sophomore Kenady Wilson qualified in the high jump with a leap of 5-feet, 9 ¾-inches.
When coupled with the men, the Aggies are sending 18 athletes to Eugene, Ore., to compete in 15 different events. Both are new school records.
Courtesy: NCA&T Athletics