Three punch tickets to Tokyo


EUGENE, Ore. – The 400 meter dash was good for runners from the black college ranks last week as three came through with outstanding performances here at the USA Track & Field Olympic Trials to earn spots on the U. S. teams for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

Quanera Hayes (Livingstone)

Outstanding former Livingstone sprinter Quanera Hayes was the first to come through as she won the women’s 400 meters Sunday over a field that included nine-time Olympic medalist Allyson Felix.

Hayes, who earned her first Olympic team spot, took the lead over the final 100 meters and pulled away to win in a season’s best 49.79 seconds. She was the only runner to break the 50-second mark. Felix made up ground over the last 50 meters to make her fifth Olympic team, finishing second in 50.02. Wadeline Jonathas finished just behind Felix in 50.03.

“I just went for it and just kept my arms going,” said an excited Hayes after the win. “There was really no real execution for the race, it was really just to give it to God, go and fight for what you wanted and fight for what you know and what you know God has given you the ability to do. So just go for it and don’t hold anything back and don’t try to save anything.”

 Success on the track is nothing new for Hayes.

At Livingstone, she was a 12-time NCAA All-American – indoor and outdoor; four-time NCAA outdoor champion (three times in 400 and once in the 200); an eight-time school record holder; and US Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Athlete of the Year Indoor and Outdoor.

 As a pro she won the bronze medal at the 2016 World Indoor Championships and was part of the 4×400 relay gold medal-winning team, which also won the gold that year at the World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas. She also won gold on 4×400 relay teams at the 2017 World Championships (London) and 2018 World Indoor Championships (Birmingham, UK).

After the race, Hayes and her son Demetrius celebrated with Felix and her daughter, Camryn, trackside.

Decorated former Hampton quartermiler Francena McCorory finished fifth in her first round race in 52.93 Friday and did not advance to the semifinals. The 32-year old McCorory, who won two NCAA 400 meter indoor championships at Hampton, one 400 meter indoor World Championship (2014), two 4×400 relay Olympic gold medals (2012 in London and 2016 in Rio de Janeiro) and two 4×400 relay world championships (2011 and 2013), later announced her retirement on Instagram.

Randolph Ross Jr. and Trevor Stewart (NC A&T)
NCAA champion quartermilers Randolph Ross Jr. and Trevor Stewart punched their tickets to the Tokyo Olympics by finishing third and fourth respectively Sunday in the men’s 400 meters final.

Ross Jr., an A&T sophomore who won the NCAA 400 meters title last
week at the same Hayward Field venue in a world-best time of 43.85, came
off the final turn well behind but made up ground down over the final 100
meters to finish third in 44.74 behind pros Michael Norman (44.07) and
Michael Cherry (44.35).

“My dad, he’s been training for this moment all year, getting me ready
for it,” Ross said of his father, Duane Ross, his head coach at NC A&T who
coaches all the present and former Aggies running at the Trials.
“He texted me before the event and said ‘Happy Father’s Day’ now let’s
go get this Tokyo trip,” Duane said of his son.

Stewart, an A&T senior who finished fourth in the NCAA 400 meters and joined Ross Jr. on A&T’s NCAA 4×400 relay championship team, also closed well to finish fourth in 44.90 and earn an Olympic spot as a member of the 4×400 meter relay pool.