Sunday night, two members of North Carolina A&T’s national championship 4×400 relay team punched their tickets to the Olympics. Sophomore Randolph Ross and grad student Trevor Stewart punched their tickets to Tokyo by finishing third and fourth at the USA Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon.
It was a standout moment for the track program and its coach Duane Ross. But it was only half of the story.
The other two members of the national championship team were already set to head to Tokyo. Akeem Sirleaf will represent Liberia. Daniel Stokes will represent Mexico. They are the first Olympians from A&T since 1992 when Troy Douglas and Ruth Morris competed in the Barcelona Olympics.
“Tokyo is going to be just like home. Practice is going to be just like it is at home,” Ross said when asked about the quartet making the Olympics. ‘I’m looking forward to having those guys there.”
Sirleaf was the first to make an Olympic team. The Minnesota native qualified back in August 2019, nearly a year before the Olympics were set to happen in 2020.
The pair teamed up with Ross and Stewart to run a 3:00.92 time in Eugune at the NCAAs a week prior to the Olympic trials. Several times this year, the quartet has run the fastest 4×400 time in the world.
But when they meet up in Tokyo, they won’t be all wearing the same uniform.
“Excited for them. Excited for their families and everyone around them, and I expect great things out of them,” Ross said. “Unfortunately, they won’t be running on the same relay. I’ve told them — beating this US team, that’s going to be a hard feat. That relay is going to be tough. But those two guys, for their corresponding countries, they are going to compete well.”