Ross, Stewart Claim Aggies’ First Olympic Gold with Team USA in 4x400-meter Relay

By Jackie Torok / 08/05/2021 Athletics

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Aug. 7, 2021) – Trevor Stewart and Randolph Ross Jr. became North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University's first Olympic gold medalists after leading the United States to the medal round of the men’s 4x400-meter relay in Tokyo.

Stewart ran the first leg of the Round 1, Heat 1 race, and Ross Jr. ran the second, followed by Bryce Deadmon and Vernon Norwood to post a time of 2:57:77 -- the fastest time in both preliminary heats, as well as the fastest preliminary heat in Olympic history. It also marked the first time two Aggies competed on the same team for a single Olympic event. Watch the entire round 1 race here on YouTube.

Teammates Michael Cherry, Michael Norman, Deadmon and Rai Benjamin ran a time of 2:55:70 in Saturday's medal race to secure the gold medal.

Ross’ father, Duane Ross, who has coached North Carolina A&T’s track and field teams since 2012, said this is a dream that was spoken into existence.

“The rest of the country wants to overlook our program all year long, but then here we are with two of the best 400-meter runners in the world here on the relay,” said Ross, who competed in the 110-meter hurdles in 2004 when the Olympics were held in Athens.

“It is a big deal. I’m proud of it. I hope everyone else is,” said Ross. “It’s exciting. But it’s something we’ve been preparing for all year.”

Going into the final day of the Olympics, A&T had earned more medals than 28 entire countries that have each medaled in Tokyo. Stewart, 24, of Lorton, Virginia, was responsible for two of them, having already made history last weekend as the first Aggie to earn a medal in the Olympics, securing a bronze medal for the United States in the inaugural mixed 4x400-meter relay. He was also the first historically Black college or university student or graduate to medal in the 2020 Olympics.  

Stewart led off for a team that included Kendall Ellis, Norwood and Kaylin Whitney. Togeher, they ran a 3:10.22 behind the goal medalists for Poland and finishing .01 behind the silver medalists for the Dominican Republic.

Stewart finished fourth in the 400-meter Olympic trial race with a time of 44.90 on July 27 in Eugene, Oregon, to earn his place on the U.S. track and field team. Ross Jr. finished third in that event with a time of 44.74.

With the top finishers in the Olympic trials moving on to represent Team USA, Stewart and Ross Jr. joined World Champion Norman (44.07) and three-time World Champion silver medalist Cherry (44.35).

Ross Jr., 20, of Raleigh, North Carolina, posted a 45.67 in his first Olympic event in Tokyo, but Norman (45.35) and Cherry (44.82) advanced to the 400-meter semifinals after the open race in six heats Sunday, Aug. 1.

Both Ross Jr. and Stewart headed to Tokyo as NCAA champions.

Along with Akeem Sirleaf and Daniel Stokes, Ross Jr. and Stewart captured the 4x400-meter relay title for N.C. A&T at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in June with a time of 3:00.92.

Additionally, Ross Jr. won the men’s 400-meter title at the NCAA championships where he ran the world’s fastest time – 43.85 – and the second-fastest ever for the NCAA race to win the Aggies’ first national championship in an outdoor event. He is the third-fastest 400-meter runner in NCAA history.

Likewise, Stewart has had a stellar athletic career that includes a second-place finish in the 400-meter race at the 2019 NCAA championships.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA’s 2020 outdoor season was canceled and the 2020 Summer Olympics were postponed a year.

The last Aggies to compete in the Olympics were Troy Douglas and Ruth Morris for the games held in Barcelona in 1992.

Media Contact Information: jtorok@ncat.edu

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