GREENSBORO EAST – It’s always great when the North Carolina A&T Championship and nationally recognized women’s and men’s outdoor tracks and teams can compete inside its home facility, Marcus T. Jonson Track.
But this exercise is not just about allowing fans to see successful programs unfold. A&T moved the annual Aggie Invitational from two days to one this week. That day happened on Saturday, and the Aggies used it one day to gain some of their freshman competitive experience.
They also used the day to train for some of their most experienced athletes. So if you want to work and experiment a bit, you might as well do it at home.
“I think it’s good today despite the cold and the wind,” said Duan Ross, the director of athletics programs at Aggies. “We had some great performances, but at the same time we did a lot. It was a good weekend to get a lot of quality training as we enter the second half of the season.”
The Aggies finished the day with eight first-place finishes. First-year student Brayden Hodgest picked up two victories taking first place in the men’s shot put and discus throw. Ross said Hodgest will help the Aggies in pitching for years to come. Hodgest’s best shot put was 52 feet, 10 ¼ inches. 9 on Saturday to finish 14 of 158. Rogers had two birdies that day. He threw the disc 154 feet, 5 inches.
First-year student Lashanti Williams made his college debut in a big way on Saturday. Williams won the women’s long jump with a leap of 18 feet, 9 ¼ inches. She is now fourth in the Big South Conference in this event.
The men’s long jump also saw freshman Aggie do well as Aeneas Reed jumped 22ft 10in to finish second. Two youngsters also did well in the men’s 400 metres. Second year Chambers of Shemar finished first in 47.19. Freshman Reheem Hayles finished second with a time of 47.23.
“I’ve seen a lot of good things from some of the young athletes, from some of the freshmen,” Ross said. “Lashanti’s performance was tremendous. We saw what we needed to see today.”
Some of Aggie’s most familiar fan names also fared well.
Senior Rasheem Brown, an American first-team indoor hurdler and 2021 Middle East Athletics Conference (MEAC) champion, had a strong showing in the 110 hurdles on Saturday. He clocked a personal best 13.59 to win the event. The performance also places Brown 7th nationally in the 100H.
Junior Kenady Wilson once again found herself in the circle of winners. Wilson won the women’s high jump at 5-foot-8 ¾. It was his second win of the season after winning the Big South Indoor Championship. She is also the reigning MEAC Outdoor Champion and a qualifier for the 2021 NCAA Outdoor Championship.
Wilson is No. 1 in the Deep South and ranks 28th nationally thanks to his 5-foot-10 jump at NC State’s Raleigh relays. Senior Nazah Reddick finished second Saturday at 5-foot-7.
“We know Kenady is talented, but she can go higher,” Ross said. “To see her compete today, but to know that she wants more is a huge plus for us.”
Junior Aveon Reid picked up a win in the men’s 400H. He took an easy victory posting a 51.14, more than a second better than Davidson’s Bryce Anthony (52.48). As a result, the Aggies now have the Deep South’s top 3,400 hurdlers in Cory Pool (50.20), Akeem Lindo (50.56) and Reid (51.14).
One of the most decorated female pitchers in A&T history, graduating Loren James, picked up another win on Saturday winning the shot put with a throw of 51 feet, 3 ¾ inches. James, a six-time conference champion, was an NCAA regional qualifier last season in the shot put.
“The jumpers and throwers stepped up for us over the weekend and showed they’ve heeded the message I’ve been bringing from the inside that everyone needs to step up and do a lot more.” , Ross said.
The Aggies also got work for the hurdles championship Paula Salmon. She ran the fastest qualifying time in the 100 hours on Saturday at 1:08 p.m. before missing out on the final. The Aggies also took advantage of the event to work out their mid-distance runners using different events.
Rookie Fajr Kelly, who normally races the women’s 800 and 1,500m, raced the 400m on Saturday. Second year Jalen Chinan 800 and 1500 runner, also got work in the 400.
“Everything we do has a purpose,” Ross said. “When you see an athlete running outside of their normal focus, there’s definitely a training goal behind it.”