|Double up: North Carolina A&T track and field earns its place among elite|
|Aggies make statement at NCAA championships|
|Published Sunday, June 13, 2021 8:00 pm|
|PHOTO | ERIN MIZELL|
|North Carolina A&T sophomore Cambrea Sturgis (center) of Kannapolis and A.L. Brown High graduate, won national championships in the women’s 100 and 200 meters at the NCAA Outdoor tTack and Field Championships.|
GREENSBORO – North Carolina A&T is an up-and-coming track team.
A&T is on the come-up in track and field.
A&T is the best historically Black college or university program in the nation.
Duane Ross, the Aggies’ director of track and field programs and a Dallas, N.C., native, appreciates the compliments, but they seem backhanded at this point. On the final day of the 2021 NCAA Outdoor Frack and Field Championships at the University of Oregon, the Aggies added to a pile of evidence that their men’s and women’s 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 third in the 4x100 relay.
A&T was the only school to have their men and women finish in the top four.
“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,” Ross said. “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.”
After helping sophomore Kamaya Debose-Epps, freshman Jonah Ross and junior Symone Darius run a 43.03 seconds in the 4x100, Sturgis entered track and field cream of the crop status. She is the fastest woman in the NCAA after running the fastest all-weather time in NCAA history, 10.74, the 11th-fastest clocking for a woman in world history.
“I was a little bit nervous,” Sturgis said in describing how she felt before the starter pistol went off for the 100. “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, a Kannapolis native and A.L. Brown High graduate, then turned her attention to the 200, where she and Alabama sprinter Tamara Clark battled to the end. Sturgis pulled away slightly over the final 30 meters and leaned forward to record a time of 22.12. Clark crossed in 22.17.
Sturgis’ 200 time is the fourth-fastest in NCAA history and marked the 13th time a women’s sprinter has won the national championship in the 100 and 200. 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, who is expected to run in this week’s Olympic Trials.
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. Senior TeJyrica Robinson tripped over the final hurdle, but finished the race, which allowed the Aggies to finish fourth.
In the high jump, sophomore Kenady Wilson’s best was 5 feet, 10 inches to finish 20th.
“I think some of our competition is still struggling with the fact that we are better,” Ross said. “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 [last] weekend, but they shouldn’t be.”
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