PUEBLO, Colo. – Winning never gets old, but for St. Augustine’s University’s track program, it is definitely a habit. Powered by its sprinters and hurdlers, St. Augustine’s completed its outdoor season as the best men’s track & field team in Division II for the 11th time.
The Falcons 99 points on the final day to run away with the men’s team crown at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships held at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl on the campus of Colorado State University at Pueblo on Saturday, May 25, 2013. St. Aug has won 33 men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor titles combined and 11 men’s outdoor titles under head coach George Williams.
The Falcons scored 105 points which is the third-most points by a winning men’s team since 2007. Ashland was second with 57 points and Adams State was third with 44 points.
The outdoor title comes on the heels of the indoor crown won by the Falcons in March 2013. It is the first time a team has swept both championships since 2005. The last time the Falcons were indoor and outdoor champions was 2001.
“The kids did a good job,” Williams said. “They started the indoor season with a vision. They worked hard. I am proud of them.”
Among the women, the Lady Falcons tied for 14th with 18 points. Academy of Art is the women’s winner with 60 points and Johnson C. Smith placed second with 54 points. Lincoln (Mo.) and Grand Valley State tied for third with 51 points.
The Falcons won four men’s events and scored significant points in several others to win easily. The winners were the 4×100 relay team, the 4×400 relay team, Dane Hyatt (Jr./Goodwill, Jamaica) in the 400 dash and Jermaine Jones (So./Wilmington, N.C.) in the 200 dash. On the women’s side, the Lady Falcons claimed the 4×400 relay.
“This is a typical St. Aug group,” Williams said. “We excelled in sprints, hurdles, relays and jumps.”
The men’s 4×100 relay team set the tone with a sizzling performance in its event. The foursome of Ramaan Ansley (Sr./Philadelphia, Pa.), Taffawee Johnson (Jr./St. Ann, Jamaica), Burkheart Ellis, Jr. (Fr./Raleigh, N.C.) and Jones ran 38.91 seconds to break the Division II national record which they set two days ago in preliminaries. On Thursday, the Falcons ran 39.01 in the preliminaries to break the previous mark held by Abilene Christian for 29 years. Abilene Christian ran 39.20 in 1984.
The Falcons are the first Division II team in history to run the 4×100 relay under 39 seconds. It is the seventh fastest time in the United States in 2013. Grand Canyon was second in 39.58 and Lincoln (Mo.) was third in 39.95.
Ansley is excited to be part of a record-setting relay team and national championship squad.
“As a senior, I definitely wanted to be part of something big,” Ansley said. “Now we [4×400 team] are a part of history – national record and national championship.”
Despite the thrilling 4×100 win and a fifth-place finish by Ty’reak Murray (Jr./Portsmouth, Va.) in the men’s 110 hurdles, the Falcons didn’t take the lead until the 400 dash when the Falcons took four of the top six spots with Hyatt leading the way. Hyatt won in 45.41 while Ellis, Jr. was third, James Quarles (Jr./Washington, D.C.) was fifth and Josh Edmonds (Jr./Jacksonville, Fla.) was sixth. The Falcons scored 23 points in the 400 to move into first place with a 44-30 lead over Adams State.
The Falcons widen their lead in the 100 dash. Johnson was second and Jones was third while Daniel Jameison (Fr./Windsor, Conn.) was eighth. The Falcons scored 15 more points for a 58-34 lead over Grand Canyon.
The Falcons never looked back from that point. Marcelis Lynch (Sr./Stone Mountain, Ga.) finished sixth in the 800 and Elhadji Mbow (Jr./Dakar, Senegal) was second in the 400 hurdles. DeJon Wilkinson (Jr./Summerville, S.C.) was fourth in the triple jump.
The Falcons sealed the title in the 200. Jones was first with a time of 20.57 and teammates Johnson and Edmonds were third and fourth, respectively. The 4×400 squad of Edmonds, Quarles, Ellis, Jr. and Hyatt capped the meet by winning the last event in 3:04.89.
Among the women, the quartet of Kelly Shaw (Sr./Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), Cherrisse Lynch (So./Bridgetown, Barbados), Jaivairia Bacote (Jr./Patterson, N.J.) crossed the finish line first in the 4×400 in 3:35.89.
Kudos to St. Aug’s for another stellar season. This program’s sustained success is a testament to the impact and potential of sports for HBCUs.