Two years ago, Randolph Ross revealed his decision to run for his father at North Carolina A&T over bigger programs on social media. The post went viral, and received both praise and criticism.
Sunday night, the 20-year-old earned his way onto the USA Olympic team as his father coached him on the sidelines. On Father’s Day.
The NCAA 400m champion ran a 44.74, finishing third behind a pair of pros in Michael Norman and Michael Cherry. It was a surreal moment for the young man from Raleigh, NC.
“Me being so young, and seeing all these people like Michael Cherry, Michael Norman…I used to see them on TV back in high school running 43 and I thought it was just amazing,” Ross said after the race. “So coming and being right next to them in completion — it was a little overwhelming in the beginning but I just had to calm down, run my race and do what I do.”
Ross started the final 100m near the middle of the pack, but managed to accelerate to clinch his spot.
“My race didn’t go as planned, but I can’t really complain being able to make the team and having an opportunity to make the Olympics,” he said of his start. “So it’s just fine-tuning everything and get ready to go faster at the Olympics.”
He will have some familiar company in Tokyo. Ross’ teammate Trevor Stewart finished fourth with a 44.90, qualifying for the 4x400m pool.
“That’s amazing. Coming in, we knew what we could do. And we knew if we ran our right way, we’d both be able to make it to the Olympics,” Ross said. “And it’s just a dream having somebody that I’ve been training with since high school, have the same dream as me and make it. It’s just crazy.”
Trevor Stewart and Randolph Ross making the USA squad means the entire 4x400m national championship team from A&T will be running in the Olympics. Daniel Stubbs will be representing Mexico while Akeem Sirleaf will represent Libera at Tokyo.
Not bad for an HBCU, right?
“We’re going to do nothing but get better. Hopefully, this actually shows that this school is ranked higher than most people might see. Having two people, and not just one, make it to the top level of runners…You know people are going to talk the way they want, they’re going to do things the way they see — but when the proof is there — it’s there.”
It most certainly is. And now it is heading to Tokyo to show the world.