The greatness of HBCUs was on full display this weekend.
North Carolina A&T State University, the largest HBCU in the nation, stole the show at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon on Friday and Saturday.
The Aggies, led by head coach and 2004 Olympian Duane Ross, were the only Division I program to have top-four finishes in both the men’s and women’s championships.
Not to mention A&T came home with multiple national championship crowns. Randolph Ross, son of Duane Ross, got the party started when he won the men’s 400 meter crown by posting the third-fastest time in collegiate history.
Then the men’s 4x400 relay team put the pedal down on everyone else in the field and grabbed another trophy. The Aggies completed the sweep in the 4x400 yesterday, since they also took home a championship title earlier this year at the indoor championships.
You also can’t forget about how Cambrea Sturgis defeated a stacked field in both the 100 meter and 200 meter finals to win two more national championships on Saturday.
It’s a remarkable accomplishment for a program that has significantly fewer resources than most of the power five schools that they continuously beat. But let’s be clear, this is not a Cinderella story. NCAT track and field is a powerhouse, and Duane Ross has built one of the best programs in the country since 2012, when he arrived in Greensboro.
Twenty different athletes have qualified for the NCAA indoor championships under Ross, while 14 have qualified for the NCAA outdoor championships. He’s also had 34 different athletes earn first-team All-American honors in either indoor or outdoor.
The A&T men’s team placing third this season is the highest finish ever for a Division I HBCU track program.
This run by NCAT’s track program not only solidifies them as a D1 powerhouse, a statement not many HBCU athletic programs can make, but it also puts them up there with some of the most historic HBCU track programs ever to compete.
It’ll be hard for someone to catch up to the nearly 40 national championships and the plethora of Olympians that came out of Division 2 St. Augustine, but one can dream.
North Carolina A&T put the world on notice once again this weekend, and demonstrated that greatness lies at these historic institutions.