EAST GREENSBORO – After a brief drop to No. 2 last week, the North Carolina A&T men’s indoor track and field team is the No. 1 team in the nation again.
On Monday, the United States Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) released its latest Track and Field Rating Index (TFRI), with the Aggie men earning the top spot after a banner weekend at Clemson University’s Tiger Paw Invitational. The women moved up six places to sit as the 29th-ranked team in the country. TFRI considers performances from the 2022 indoor season on the national descending order list.
In addition, on Monday, A&T track and field announced it would add another meet to its indoor schedule. The Aggies in the University of South Carolina’s UofSC Indoor on Friday, Feb. 18, in an attempt for their athletes to improve their national standing.
Senior Daniel Stokes improved his standing over the weekend at Clemson. He made some strides in the 200 and 400 meters. Also helping the Aggies regain the No. 1 ranking was their trio of 60 hurdlers ranked in the top-40 nationally.
One of those hurdlers, freshman Leonard Mustari, had a boss performance on Friday. Mustari ran a 7.55 to win the event and tie the U20 world record set 20 years ago. Despite improving his best time from 7.58 to 7.55, Mustari remains No. 2 nationally behind Florida State’s Trey Cunningham, whose best time is 7.42.
Also read: North Carolina A&T’s men’s indoor track & field team ranked No. 1 in the nation
Senior Rasheem Brown did make a move upward in the 60H. He ran a 7.65 in the preliminaries at Tiger Paw over the weekend to best his previous time of 7.70. That moved him from No. 6 to fifth nationally to aid the Aggies No. 1 ranking. Senior Cedric McGriff rounds out the Aggies in the 60H top-40 as his best time (7.83) was also recorded in a prelim at Tiger Paw.
A&T men’s other virtuoso came from a usual source – Olympic gold medalist Randolph Ross, Jr. He went into the weekend No. 1 in the 400M at 45.37. He came out of the weekend ranked No. 1 with a 44.83 time, the sixth-fastest in collegiate history.
Ross Jr. is ranked third all-time with his 400M outdoor time of 43.85, making him the 2021 NCAA national champion. That makes him one of only two men in collegiate history currently who has a top-7 400M time outdoors and indoors, joining his 2020 U.S. Olympic teammate Michael Norman.
Stokes, meanwhile, made a 3-spot jump in the 400M while moving into the conversation in the 200M. Stokes went from ranked 20th nationally in the 400 to 17th this week after posting a personal-record (PR) 46.50 to finish fifth at Tiger Paw. Stokes ran an indoor PR 20.75 to go from outside the top-40 to ranked 12th overall.
Senior sprinter Tavarius Wright ascended five spots in the 60M after running a season-best 6.63 at Tiger Paw to finish third in the final.
There was some downward movement for the men. A&T’s defending national champion 4×400-meter relay team, who did not compete over the weekend, went from second-ranked to fourth-ranked after solid showings by Iowa and Arkansas over the weekend at Arkansas’ Tyson Invitational. A&T’s 4×400 best time in 2022 was the 3:03.39 recorded at Clemson’s Bob Pollock Invite.
Both Ross Jr. and senior Brandon Hicklin dropped one spot. Ross Jr. went from third to fourth nationally in the 200M, and Hicklin went from eighth to ninth in the long jump.
Courtesy: North Carolina A&T Athletics