Courtesy: Dillard Athletics
Gulf Shores, Alabama – Dillard’s men’s track & field program were in it to win it as the 4x100m relay team won their event to walk away with the national title and achieve All-American status on the third and final day of the 2021 NAIA Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Friday, May 28, at Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium in Gulf Shores, Ala.
The 4×100 relay team of senior Cody Branch (SR/Marrero, La.), sophomore Willie McCaulley (SO/Huntsville, Alabama), sophomore Kaleb McClendon (SO/Norfolk, Va,) and freshman James Ray Pennington III (FR/Lafayette, La.) raced around the track to win the event in a school-record time of 40.69. The group entered the competition finishing fifth overall in the trials for the event (41.09). It was also their third event victory of the 2021 season for the group.
Click here to see the victory or click on the video at the end of this story
The 4×100 relay team are the first Dillard Track & Field All-Americans since Akia Armstrong was an All-American for the women’s track & field program in the long jump in 2019. The men are first males to be All-Americans for Dillard since Quamel Sessoms was an All-American in the long jump in 2016. The group is the first 4×100 All-Americans for the school in at least the last 20 years and potentially ever. The relay group is the first time Dillard has had an entire team of All-Americans since the women’s 4×400 team of Sasha Newman, Kahlia Columbus, Tajdreana Hurst and Megan Reed achieved it in 2017. The last men’s relay team to achieve All-American status was the 4×400 relay team of Emory Nash, Matt Jones, Jevonte Ezzard and Kermit Buggage in 2014.
Junior Julian Williams (JR/Compton, California) also competed on the third and final day for Dillard and finished 16th in the triple jump with his leap of 14.46m achieved on his first attempt of the afternoon.
Next, Dillard’s men’s program heads into the off-season to enjoy their 4x100m event national title, their four All-Americans, their 2021 GCAC Outdoor Track & Field Championship for the first time since 2014 and Coach Legania being named the GCAC Coach of the Year.