WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Feb. 17) – The winning streak is still alive for the Saint Augustine’s University (SAU) men’s track and field team.
The Falcons rallied from a huge deficit to tie Virginia State University for the CIAA Men’s Indoor Title at JDL Fast Track on Monday, thus preserving their hold on the championship, which now stretches 23 years. The Lady Falcons were nearly as impressive, placing second with a strong performance to claim the women’s indoor trophy as CIAA runner-ups.
For the second time in three years, the SAU men tied Virginia State for the men’s crown. Both the Falcons and Trojans scored 163 points to outdistance Virginia Union University, which placed third with 65 points.
The Lady Falcons hung tough with eventual champion Fayetteville State University, closing within two points late in the meet before the Broncos pulled away. Fayetteville State won the women’s title with 123 points and the SAU women scored 91 points to finish ahead of Virginia State, which was third with 83 points.
After the meet, legendary SAU Head Coach George Williams was named CIAA Men’s Indoor Co-Coach of the Year.
In the men’s division, the Falcons relied on their traditionally strong stable of runners to make their comeback. They started the day in third place trailing by 32 points, and the Trojans expanded their first-day lead to 57 points after scoring 25 points in the Heptathlon.
The Falcons faced an uphill climb, but clawed back in the meet. Led by victories from Brandon Parris (Sr./Sion Hill, St. Vincent) in the 400 dash, Shivnarine Smalling (Jr./St. Elizabeth, Jamaica) in the 60 dash and Kurt Modeste (So./Greenville, Grenada) in the 200 dash, the Falcons moved within 14 points at 149-135 with two events left.
The pivotal race was the men’s 5,000 run. Baron Freeman (So./Hampton, VA) was the winner as the Falcons scored 18 points to get within 158-153, setting the stage for the final event – the 4×400 relay.
The Falcons, ranked first nationally in the event, needed to win and Virginia State needed to finish below third place for a chance to either win or tie. The race went as well as the Falcons could hope as the foursome of Jalen Jones (So./Raeford, NC), Phillip Marcelle (So./Greenville, Grenada), Modeste and Parris crossed the finish line first while the Trojans placed fourth, creating a first-place tie. It was a heck of a comeback for the Falcons against a deep Virginia State team.
The Lady Falcons almost pulled off a comeback of their own. Starting the day in third place and trailing first-day leader Fayetteville State by 23 points, the SAU women got within striking distance behind victories from Jaria Hoyte (So./St. Philip, Barbados) in the 400 dash and Danielle Scantlebury (So./St. George, Barbados) in the 60 hurdles.
Fayetteville State was able to separate itself from SAU, however, but the Lady Falcons capped the meet with a victory in the 4×400 relay. The quartet of Hoyte, Scantlebury, Davia Smith (Sr./Manchester, Jamaica) and Shannon Kalawan (Jr./Westmoreland, Jamaica), ranked fifth nationally in the event entering the meet, won the relay decisively.
With the CIAA Indoor Championships behind them, the Falcons and Lady Falcons will focus on the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships coming up March 13-14. The SAU track and field program has won 39 NCAA Division II national championships in the indoor and outdoor seasons combined under Coach Williams, the NCAA’s winningest active championship coach regardless of sport and division.
-Office of Sports Information