Friday, June 23, 2017

Black College News

UNCF’s iconic, “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste,” advertising campaign remains the gold-standard for shining light on the urgency of investing in Black colleges and universities.

No nation, the stories in the campaign reminded us, can be great if it leaves behind a large portion of its residents. More than 40 years later, the need for sustained investment in historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) remains as great as ever.

With the change in presidential administrations, HBCUs have once again returned to the national conversation, with some openly questioning the need for such institutions, particularly in the face of advances over the past several decades. The conversation is not new and the answer has not changed.

We need HBCU’s to continue to exist and they need all of us helping to support their coffers and make the case to decision-makers about the continued value they provide.

HBCUs represent only three percent of all two- and four-year U.S. colleges and universities, but they enroll 10 percent of all African-American undergraduates. They produce 17 percent of all African-American college graduates and generate 24 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields earned by African-Americans annually, according to UNCF’s Patterson Research Institute.

Part of the reason is that Black graduates of HBCUs are significantly more likely to have felt supported while in college, according to 2015 data from an ongoing Gallup-Purdue University study.

But statistics are only part of the story. HBCUs have produced influential Americans including Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, filmmaker Spike Lee, Oprah Winfrey and many other business, civic leaders and entrepreneurs.

On campuses around the nation, parents beamed last month as newly minted graduates of HBCUs set out to make names for themselves and to fulfill their dreams.

At Howard University, my alma mater, I witnessed U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris remind graduates that the world will not always be welcoming and that they have a duty to serve.

“That is your duty – the duty of your degree,” Harris said. “That is the charge of a Howard graduate. So whatever you plan to do next – whether you want to design the latest app or cure cancer or run a business. Whether you’re going to be a dentist, a lawyer, a teacher, or an accountant – let your guiding principle be truth and service. At a time when there are Americans – disproportionately Black and brown men – trapped in a broken system of mass incarceration … peak truth – and serve.”

It is advice that we should also – no matter our age – aspire to. And one truth is surely that the nation’s HBCUs are as relevant and necessary now as when some of them were founded over 150 years ago. These institutions were an antidote to the racist policies that, in some cases, banned educating Black students.

At a time where college costs are going up, and attacks on Black students on predominantly White campuses are on the rise, the need for Black colleges is greater than ever. As a government, we have to continue to ensure that funding is there to keep this pipeline going. And as private citizens, we have to open our wallets to ensure the long-term viability of the institutions that are working for us and our communities.

Rushern Baker, a graduate of Howard University, is the county executive in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

From Washington (NFL) Public Relations and published reports

LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va.
The NFL’s Washington franchise announced last week that they have promoted former standout Grambling and Washington NFL quarterback and former Tigers’ head coach Doug Williams to Senior Vice President of Player Personnel.

Williams assumes his new position after the team fired General Manager Scott McCloughan in March after two years. According to a story published last Wednesday online at the Monday Morning Quarterback (mmqb.si.com) podcast by the Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, the noted journalist said Williams will oversee a reshuffled personnel staff and will work under team president Bruce Allen.

Washington did not hire a GM to replace McCloughan. GMs usually have ultimate authority over players, coaches, scouts, trainers and anyone that has an impact on the product the team puts on the field. ‘When I interviewed for the job, I didn’t put ‘GM’ on my proposal,’ King reported Williams as saying. ‘A GM oversees everything. But I looked at our team—I don’t want to be in charge of the coaches. That’s [head coach] Jay Gruden’s job.’

Allen said in last Tuesday’s press conference that the realignment was “Doug’s plan.” “My job is to control the front office,” Williams said at the press conference. There are currently only four black general managers in the NFL; Ozzie Newsome of the Baltimore Ravens, Jerry Resse of the New York Giants, Reggie McKenzie of the Oakland Raiders and Rick Smith of the Houston Texans.

Williams is a veteran of 20 NFL seasons, including nine as a player and 11 in scouting/personnel roles. Prior to joining Washington’s personnel department in 2014 as a Senior Personnel Executive, Williams spent five seasons as Personnel Executive with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2004-08 before being named the team’s Director of Pro Personnel for the 2009 season.

A member of the 80 Greatest players for Washington and a Ring of Famer for the franchise, Williams played with the team from 1986-89 and led Washington to a Super Bowl XXII title, a 42-10 rout of the Denver Broncos. Williams, the first African-American quarterback to play in a Super Bowl, completed 18-of-29 passes for 340 yards with four touchdown passes to earn Super Bowl XXII MVP honors.

Williams, a first-round pick by Tampa Bay in the 1978 NFL Draft (No. 17 overall) out of Grambling, led the Buccaneers to the first three playoff appearances in team history. In 1986, the Washington traded for Williams’ rights following two seasons with the USFL’s Oklahoma Outlaws. In Williams’ Super Bowl XXII MVP performance following the 1987 season, he set or tied several Super Bowl passing records, including most TD passes (four), most yards passing (340), longest pass completion (80 yards) and longest TD pass (80 yards).

Williams joined the Buccaneers’ front office in 2004 following a successful tenure as head coach at Grambling, and one of the most storied playing careers in league and team history. His responsibilities in Tampa included coordinating the scouting and recruiting of all NFL players, while also monitoring NFL transactions and overseeing player tryouts. In addition, he was in charge of Tampa Bay’s evaluating efforts of all other professional football leagues, including the Canadian Football League.

In six seasons during his first tenure (1998-2003) at Grambling, Williams brought one of the most storied programs in college football history back to prominence, compiling a 52-18 record as head coach after succeeding his former coach, the legendary Eddie Robinson, who was at the helm for 57 years from 1941-97 and re-wrote the record books as the winningest coach in the history of college football with 408 career wins.

Williams led Grambling to three consecutive Southwestern Athletic Conference titles from 2000-02 as they were named National Black College Champions during the same three-year span. He was also named SWAC Coach of the Year in each of those three seasons. Williams was a two-time finalist for The Sports Network Eddie Robinson (Division I-AA) National Coach of the Year. He rejoined the program for three seasons from 2011-13, including earning the SWAC title in his first season back in 2011.

Williams started his college head coaching career at Morehouse College in 1997. He also has previous NFL experience as a scout for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995 and as offensive coordinator for the Scottish Claymores of the World League in 1995 and tutoring running backs for Navy in 1994. Williams also excelled on the high school level as head coach and athletic director at Point Coupee H.S. in New Roads, La., in 1991. In 1993, he was head coach at Northeast H.S. in his hometown of Zachary, La., where he guided the team to a 13-1 record and the state semifinals, including a win over Peyton Manning’s Isidore Newman squad in the 1993 state quarterfinals.

As Grambling’s quarterback from 1974-77, Williams had a spectacular college career, passing for more than 8,000 yards and 93 touchdowns, leading the Tigers to three Black College National Championships and two SWAC titles. He posted a 35-5 record as a starter and finished fourth in voting for the 1977 Heisman Trophy.

In 2005, Williams and James “Shack” Harris established The Shack Harris & Doug Williams Foundation with the function of providing grants for after-school initiatives, leadership development, mentoring programs and minority higher education assistance for economically disadvantaged youth. In March of 2009, the foundation put on its first annual Washington Football Legends for Charity in Washington, D.C. In 2010, the foundation established the Black College Football Hall of Fame, which will move to its new home in Canton, Ohio in 2018.

After Super Bowl XLII, the NFL honored the 20th anniversary of Williams’ Super Bowl XXII victory, as Williams was chosen to present the Lombardi Trophy to the New York Giants following their victory over the New England Patriots.

Williams and his wife, Raunda, have eight children: Ashley, Adrian, Carmeleta, Doug, Jr., Jasmine, Laura, Lee and Temessia.

Eight black college baseball players, five from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and three from the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) were taken in last Wednesday’s 2017 Major League Baseball (MLB) Draft. The draftees including the reigning MEAC player and pitcher of the year. Norfolk State, out of the MEAC, had two selections.

Demetrius Sims of MEAC champion Bethune-Cookman was the first to go off the boards going to the Miami Marlins in the 14th round. Sims was a first team all-MEAC selection at shortstop, helping the Wildcats win their 19th MEAC championship and advance to the first NCAA regional final in school and conference history. He was also a MEAC all-Tournament selection. Sims hit .323, was third in the league in hits with 72 and led the league with 7 triples.

Jackson State junior outfielder Bryce Brown was the next selection, going to the Tampa Bay Rams in the 15th round. The Walker, La. native, a first team all-SWAC pick, helped lead the Tigers’ to a conference best 38-17-1 (20-4 SWAC) record in 2017 in route to an East Division title. Brown led the Tigers in batting average (.374) on base percentage (.514). Brown led all SWAC hitters in on base percentage and ranked second overall in the conference in batting average.

Noah “Cutter” Dyals went in the 17th round to the Atlanta Braves. Dyals was named first team all-MEAC, coming out of the bullpen to help North Carolina A&T finish second in the MEAC Southern Division this past season. He was 6-0 this season with seven saves and an 0.50 ERA.

Aubrey McCarty of Florida A&M was named second team all-MEAC as a utility player this past season. He was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the 26th round. McCarty was second in the MEAC with 51 RBIs and had a .485 slugging percentage.

Devin Hemmerich of Norfolk State is the reigning MEAC Pitcher of the Year and a first team all-MEAC selection taken later in the 26th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hemmerich, also named to the MEAC all-Tournament team, became Norfolk State’s first Div. I All-American, as named by Collegiate Baseball News, after breaking the school record in both career and single-season strikeouts. He led the MEAC with 118 strikeouts, in ERA (1.97), innings pitched (118) and wins (10).

Norfolk State’s Alex Mauricio is the reigning MEAC Player of the Year and a semifinalist for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year award. The pitcher and utility player helped the Spartans win their third straight MEAC Northern Division regular-season title and advance to the title round of the MEAC Championship. Mauricio was plucked by the New York Yankees in the 27th round. Mauricio hit .345 (9th), had a .539 slugging percentage (2nd) with 17 doubles (3rd). He was 4-4 on the mount.

Grambling State left-handed pitcher Tanner Raiburn was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 33rd round. Raiburn earned second team all-SWAC honors after starting a team high 13 games and going 4-2 with a 3.76 ERA.

Alabama State pitcher Austin Bizzle was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 40th round (1,186 overall). The Panama City, Fla. native was third in the SWAC in ERA (1.27), fourth in strikeouts (78), tied for fifth in saves with three and ranked sixth in the league with seven wins.

Primarily from N. C. A&T Sports Information
EUGENE, ORE
North Carolina A&T senior sprinter Christopher Belcher wasn’t nervous. He wasn’t intimated. He even described himself as ready to go before his three event finals Friday at the NCAA Division I Track and Field Championships at Historic Hayward Field. He was just running against some of the best athletes in the world.

That may have been easy to forget after Belcher’s terrific performance Wednesday when he qualified for the three national finals with a 38.48 as a part of A&T’s 4×100 meter relay team, a 9.93 in the 100 meters and a 20.01 in the 200 meters. Friday wasn’t Wednesday but Belcher helped the Aggies reach the award podium three times with top-5 placements.

Along with freshman Jaylen Mitchell, senior Caleb Gabriel and sophomore Rodney Rowe, Belcher helped the 4×100 team finish third nationally in 38.57 to garner six points. Approximately 45 minutes later, Belcher placed third in the 100 meters final in 10.19 to claim another six points. After another approximate 45-minute layoff, Belcher finished fifth in the 200 meters final in 20.66 for four points.

Belcher walked away from NCAA nationals with three first-team All-American honors. He has four for his career after earning second team All-American honors in 2016 with the 4×100 team. He is the first Aggie to come away with multiple All-American honors from the NCAA championships.

“Today was a struggle, but I am so blessed to be here,” said a winded Belcher after his third event on Friday.

“It’s not easy to get here. Being here means the world to me. To come out here and race the best in the country, it doesn’t get any better than this. I wasn’t even nervous today. I already know I’m going to see the best in the world. Coming into these big events I was always nervous with the bubble guts all the time. Today, I was ready to go.”

As a team, the Aggies finished tied with Tulsa and Ole Miss for 14th nationally with 16 points. N.C. A&T finished tied for third among non-Power 5 conference schools (ACC, Big 10, Pac-12, Big 12, SEC). Florida took home the team national championship.

The Aggies may have gone higher, but sophomore triple jumper Lasheon Stormier fouled on all four of his jumps Friday. They were also the only HBCU program to produce points in the championship.

“We made history this week and I’m proud of that,” said A&T Director of Track and Field programs Duane Ross. “There are more than 250 Division I track and field teams in America. To finish where we finished is a true achievement. I’m proud of these guys.”

The 4×100 team ran their second-fastest time of the season, finishing behind NCAA champion Houston and second-place finisher Auburn. The Aggies had a good first exchange between Mitchell and Belcher as the Aggies came out of the first split in sixth place. Belcher helped the Aggies make up some ground, but the exchange between him and Gabriel wasn’t as smooth. When Gabriel gave the baton to Rowe to run the anchor the Aggies were a part of the pack. But Rowe ran past runners from Texas A&M and Texas to make one last effort to win the national title. But Rowe, who completed his split in 9.5 seconds, ran out of track as Houston crossed in 38.34 and Auburn crossed in 38.48.

“We’ve come a long way when you think about it,” said Gabriel, who ran the third leg. “We didn’t even make the final last year and this year we’re No. 3 team in the country. It still hurts because we wanted to win it. We came in really feeling like we had a chance to win it.”

N.C. A&T’s third-place finish in an NCAA 4×100 final is the best in school history, surpassing the 2001 team of Timothy Walls, Theo Wilds, Gerald Wright and Titus Haywood who finished fifth in 39.48.

“We could have run a better race. I’m sure there are a lot of the things to critique. But at the end of the day we have to be happy with the progress we’ve made,” said Gabriel. “The good news is, the program is good enough to get back here and do better.”

Belcher’s chief competition in the 100 meters was Tennessee’s Christian Coleman who ran an NCAA record 9.82 on Wednesday. Coleman jumped out to an early start on Belcher and won the national championship in 10.04. Houston’s Cameron Burrell came in second in 10.12. Coleman won the 200 meters as well in 20.25.

“He is the best starter in the world, so I definitely didn’t get out the way I wanted to,” said Belcher about Coleman in the 100 meters race. “He is a talented guy. I know what I did wrong. We’re going to go out there and fix whatever needs to be fixed and get ready for U.S. championships.”

The next step for Belcher, who solidified himself as an Aggie legend this week, is the USATF Outdoor Championships at Sacramento State in California June 22-25.

Cheyney State University may well be on the road to recovery, now that the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education has appointed Aaron A. Walton to serve as president of the 180-year-old-university.

Launched in 1837, Cheyney State is the nation’s oldest HBCU. But, in recent years, the university has experienced declining enrollment and financial challenges.  Specifically, the number of students on campus dropped by 53 percent, from 2010 to 2016. Walton, 70, the former senior vice president of Highmark Inc., a large health insurance company headquartered in Pittsburgh, is replacing interim president Frank G. Pogue, who is retiring and has served since November 2014.

Walton’s appointment comes on the heels of a new task force report that said Cheyney has been running a deficit since 2011-12 and has relied on more than $30 million in credit from the state system, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“Because of its financial problems, Cheyney remains on probation by the agency that accredits colleges and universities,” the newspaper noted.

The task force made several recommendations including aggressive student advising, new academic programs, new operational procedures, and conducting a feasibility study on the possibility of selling off or leasing some of the university’s unused land to raise revenue. The task force also recommended eliminating NCAA Division II sports in favor of less costly intramural team and club sports.

“For decades, Cheyney University’s graduation rate has been about two-thirds lower than the rest of the state system,” the report noted. “Currently, only 7.9 percent of students graduate in four years, and 17.5 percent graduate in six years. Cheyney University’s students deserve better.”

Walton is also a longtime member of the Council of Trustees of California University, another state system school. A university spokesperson said he is expected to use the task force report to help the university solve its current challenges. Walton will be paid $248,000 a year.

“Cheyney University is in the midst of a major transition toward a new operational model, even as it faces unprecedented challenges to its long-term sustainability. It needs strong leadership now more than ever,” Board of Governors chair Cynthia K. Shapira said in a statement.

But some object to the recommendations in the new task force report. In a news release titled “Rebirth or Death of Historic Cheyney University,” Michael Coard, a Philadelphia lawyer, and a 1982 Cheyney grad, called for a recent public meeting at Zion Baptist Church, to discuss the proposals.

By Rosaland Tyler

Associate Editor

GAINESVILLE, Fla.
After losing its first game at the 2017 NCAA Gainesville Regional on Friday afternoon, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference baseball champion Bethune- Cookman’s wondrous run to a deciding final game ended Monday with a 6-1 loss to host and top-seed Florida.

Bethune-Cookman had beaten the Gators for the first time in 31 meetings 6-2 on Sunday evening to force Monday’s 4 p.m. championship contest. The No. 3 national seed Gators (45-17) got a three-run homer and a solid pitching effort from freshman lefty Austin Langworthy to take the title and advance to next weekend’s Super Regionals.

“Well, really a heck of a game,” said B-CU head coach Jason Beverlin of the deciding contest. “It’s funny how when both teams think they don’t have any pitching, yet the first five innings are shutouts. That’s the way it usually goes. It was a great game and they had some guys step up.

“I am just proud of our guys and the way they never quit” Beverlin said. “All I really ask of them every day when we come to the field, is that they play hard from first pitch to last pitch and they did that all year. I’m really proud of them.” “First of all, I’d like to compliment Bethune-Cookman, because they gave us everything we could handle these last two days,” said Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan. “To get to Monday after losing the first game says a lot about their team and character.”

B-CU, which defeated two nationally ranked teams in USF (South Florida) and Florida on Sunday and posted more regional victories (three) in 36 hours than the two they had in the previous 36 years, concludes the season at 36-25 with its 19th MEAC championship.

The 36 victories are the most in the sixth season for Beverly and the third-most in program history. Langworthy’s blast broke open a scoreless tie. Before his big hit, Florida put men on second and third on a questionable no-call where Florida batter Mike Rivera appeared to interfere with B-CU first baseman Danny Rodriguez. It was ruled an error on Rodriguez.

“I don’t think he meant to [interfere],” said Beverlin. “I felt like they were both kind of going down the line in the same plane. The argument was the ball took him into the infield, so I can understand both ways. That being said, it’s a play we need to make.”

Bethune-Cookman broke the shutout in the seventh when Kyle Corbin scored from second when Josten Heron beat out a two-out infield single, cutting the deficit to 4-1. Two teams supposedly all but depleted of pitching, both playing in their fifth game in four days, put on a defensive display the first five innings.

Bethune-Cookman forced Florida to leave eight runners in scoring position before the sixth, while the Gators limited the Wildcats to three hits during that time and seven overall. Tyler Krull started for B-CU, working three scoreless innings before yielding to Joseph Calamita. Isaak Gutierrez and Nate Sterijevski also worked relief. Adonis Lao and Heron each had two hits for the Wildcats. For the tournament, Sterijevski finished with a .500 average (10-20) with one home run and eight RBI. Lao hit .352 (6-17) while Austin Garcia batted .333 (5-15).

“They’ve got three really good outfielders (Lao, Heron and Corbin) that can run balls down and they can all throw,” said O’Sullivan. “The shortstop’s (Sims) a really good player and the second baseman (Steriljevski), I don’t think anybody figured out how to get him out all weekend. And they’re pitching did a nice job. They just ran out of arms there at the end.” B-CU earned its way to the final game despite losing 9-1 to USF in Friday’s first game.

They came back Saturday to knock off and eliminate Marist as pitcher Tyler Norris pitched a complete game in a 4-2 victory. Norris, an all-MEAC performer, improved to 9-1 on the year and became the first nine-inning complete-game performer for B-CU since Alex Seibold went the distance against North Carolina A&T on March 26, 2016. He allowed just two runs on six hits, picking up seven strikeouts and walking a pair.

In the bottom of the fifth, junior third baseman Jameel Edney connected for his fifth home run of the year, lifting a two-out solo shot to clear the wall in left that staked the Wildcats to a 3-1 lead after five innings. Sterijevski had a two-run scoring single in the game.

B-CU made history later Saturday, beating and eliminating South Florida 6-4 to earn their first trip to a region final in program history.

Sterijevski, Garcia and Sims each had two hits, while Alex Herrera, Ivan Countinho and Calamita combined to throw six consecutive shutout innings to help the Wildcats (35-24) pull away from a 3-3 tie.

The Wildcats blew the game open in the eighth when Sterijevski singled home Rodriguez and Garcia. Pinch hitter Michael Deeb’s double off the left field wall brought in Sterijevski to conclude the scoring. Sterijevski smacked a two-run homer to left in the third.

The weekend went from historic to legendary as the Wildcats defeated Florida 6-2 Sunday on its home field. Sterijevski drove in four runs, while T. J. Densmore and Anthony Maldonado combined for 7 2/3 innings of shutout relief as the Wildcats (36-24) ended a 31-game losing streak to the top-seeded Gators (44-17).

Rodriguez, Corbin and Adonis Lao each had two hits for the Wildcats, who outhit the Gators 12-5. On the mound, Densmore relieved starter Donté Lindsay in the second and limited Florida to two hits in his stint while Maldonado, who started Friday’s opening loss to USF, finished the game with four no-hit innings with just one walk.

Norfolk State University captured the Talmadge Layman Hill Men’s Award, while Florida A&M University captured the Mary McLeod Bethune Women’s All-Sports Award, the MEAC announced on Wednesday. The All-Sports Awards are indicators of the overall strengths of the conference’s men’s and women’s athletic programs. Each institution was presented with a $20,000 check during a reception at the Vinoy Hotel in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday evening.

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore was recognized during the reception as the 2017 recipient of the MEAC Highest Graduation Success Rate (GSR) for the eighth straight year. In addition to the recognition, MDES was presented a check for $25,000 from the conference. MDES’ 81-percent GSR is the highest among MEAC institutions spanning the 2006-09 cohorts.

Florida A&M, which shared the Mary McLeod Bethune Women’s All-Sports Award last academic year, won the award outright for the first time since 2001. The Lady Rattlers have won the award a total of 10 times since its inception in 1987 and has won it in consecutive years for the first time since a nine-year streak from 1993-2001.

The Lady Rattlers totaled 95.5 points in the all-sports tally, highlighted by their fifth consecutive conference championship in cross country and fourth straight softball championship. Florida A&M also captured divisional titles in volleyball and softball while finishing second in indoor track & field.

North Carolina A&T State placed second with 90 points, followed by Bethune-Cookman (83.5), Hampton (82.5) and Norfolk State (76.5).

Norfolk State won the Talmadge Layman Hill Men’s All-Sports Award for the 11th time in school history and its first title since winning nine straight from 2005-13. The Spartans won a divisional title in baseball and finished second in cross country, indoor track & field, basketball and tennis.

Bethune-Cookman finished second with 78 points, with North Carolina A&T State third with 75 points. North Carolina Central and Hampton tied for fourth with 72 points apiece.

Points are awarded in a descending order beginning with 14 points for champions or first place regular season finishes. The second-place team receives 12 points. Tied teams split the point total.

BRADENTON, Fla.
Like the familiar song by popular rapper Drake, Saint Augustine’s started from the bottom but finished at the top for its fifth straight men’s national crown on the final day of the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships at IMG Academy on Saturday.

The Falcons started Sunday with six points but finished with 58 to outdistance Lincoln (Mo.) University (52 points), Ashland University (50 points) and Tiffin University (50 points) for their 16th men’s outdoor title.

The SAU program has won 39 NCAA championships overall under legendary Head Coach George Williams, who has won the most NCAA track and field championships regardless of division. The five-year championship streak is the longest for the Falcons since they won seven straight between 1989 to 1995.

The Falcons claimed their latest title with seven student-athletes whom Coach Williams dubs the “Magnificent Seven”. On Saturday, five sprinters scored 52 points to complete the comeback.

Unlike last year when the Falcons won by 49 points, the outcome wasn’t decided until the last race. All four teams had a shot at winning but the Falcons beat Lincoln in the 4×400-meter relay to clinch the title. The Falcons trailed Ashland and Tiffin by two points (50-48) and led Lincoln by four points (48-44) heading into the relay.

Fittingly, Khari Herbert, Jr. (Sr./Coral Springs, FL) anchored the Falcons to victory as he blazed across the finish line well ahead of the Lincoln sprinter. Herbert is the only Falcon on this year’s team to win four consecutive championships in his career. The top-ranked 4×400 squad – which includes Shawn Rowe (Sr./West Palm Beach, FL), Shaquille Dill (So./Pembroke, Bermuda) and Adrian Kimmons (Jr./Cold Water, MS) – outran Lincoln by nearly a full second (3:06.96-3:07.98).

Rowe keyed the Falcons surge on Saturday, winning the 400-meter hurdles in 49.42 and placing second in the 110-meter hurdles in addition to running on the victorious 4×400 squad.

He ranked first in the 400 hurdles but was seeded ninth in the 110 hurdles. Omar Johnson (Sr./St. Ann, Jamaica) was also a factor as he placed second in the 400-meter dash and third in the 200-meter dash despite ranking 17th in the 200 entering the meet.

“Everybody stepped up,” Williams said. “Shawn Rowe stepped up in the hurdles and Omar Johnson stepped up in the 200. I’m proud of the young folks because they could have easily folded but they didn’t. They kept their heads up.”

The turning point for the Falcons was the 400 meters when Johnson finished second and Herbert placed third in a race which also featured two Lincoln and one Ashland sprinters.

The Falcons scored 14 points in the event to slide into second place past Lincoln (28-25) while Ashland led with 44 points. The Falcons eventually closed within two points of Ashland behind Dill’s fifth-place performance in the 800-meter dash, Rowe’s 400 hurdles win and Johnson’s high finish in the 200.

From there, the Falcons relied on their bread and butter event – the 4×400 relay. The Falcons have won 22 of the last 31 4×400 relays in the NCAA championship meet including five of the last six. To no one’s surprise, the Falcons took care of business in the 4×400 and now have another award to add in a crowded trophy case.

Other HBCU winners include double winner Cervantes Jackson, a sophomore out of Albany State who won both the high jump and the triple jump, Sedekie Edie of Lincoln who won the long jump, Juan Scott of Central State in the 110-meter hurdles and the Lincoln 4×100 meter relay team of Roberto Smith, Stephen Rose, Jakiel Daniel and Miguel Barton. In addition to his triple jump and high jump double, Jackson was fourth in the long jump.

In the 400 meters final, Joshua Cunningham of Johnson C. Smith finished fourth, Lincoln’s Faedian Royes was sixth, Lincoln’s Barton was seventh and Antonio Loclin Jr. of Benedict was eighth. Rose of Lincoln was third in the 100 meters and second in the 200 meters with Royes fourth.

Lincoln was second in the final event, the 4×400 meter relay with Kevon Robinson and Darien Hunter joining Royes and Barton.

In the women’s competition, Johnson C. Smith finished with 25 points to tie for seventh place. Saint Augustine’s was a point back (24) in ninth. Lincoln was the only other team to finish in the top 20 at 15th with 19 points. West Texas A&M won the title with 64 points.

The lone individual HBCU winner among the ladies was Tia-Adana Belle of St. Augustine’s who won her third straight national 400-meter hurdles title in a record time of 55.42 seconds to cement her status as the best women’s 400-meter hurdler in Div. II history.

Belle is the first three-time Div. II champion in the event since 2002 and the second in D2 history. She shattered the former record of 55.82 which she set at the CIAA Championships on April 23, 2016. Belle also topped the NCAA Div. II Championship record of 56.13 which she set in the NCAA Outdoor Championships on May 28, 2016. J. C. Smith’s Kianje Pollard was sixth in the event.

Belle, who ran in the Rio Olympics for her native Barbados, also placed third in the 100-meter hurdles and was a member of scoring relay teams in the 4×100 and 4×400.

St. Aug’s Shakina Brooks was seventh in the long jump and Sidney Marshall of JCSU was second in the 100 meter hurdles. Lincoln’s Kissi-Ann Brown was fourth in the 400 meters with JCSU’s Kendra Clarke fifth and Benedict’s Brianna Frazier seventh. Frazier was also eighth in the 200 meters and fourth in the triple jump. Winston-Salem State’s TyLeah Hampton was third in the 100 meters.

WSSU’s 4×100 team of Cierra Thompson, Hampton, Jessica Scherrer and Sumayma Wahi was fifth in the 4.×100 meter relay. J. C. Smith’s Sidney Marshall, Mayah Edwards, Crystal Campbell and Pollard were seventh and St. Aug’s Brooks, Leah Barker, Iris Robinson and Belle were eighth.

JCSU’s team of Pollard, Dominique Julius-Williams, Campbell and Clarke were second in the 4×400 relay, Lincoln (Shanice Clarke, Renea Ambersley, Brown and Kimberly Bailey) was third and St. Aug’s (Ade Hunter, Robinson, Barker and Belle) was fourth.

All men’s and women’s finishers in the top eight in their events are designated as NCAA Div. II Track and Field All-Americans.

Summer internships are one important way that students can explore passions they want to pursue as a profession. They are exposed to a form of learning that goes beyond the books and may be the best chance they have to ensure they are making a wise investment.

I am a strong believer in the notion that, in order to have your issues heard, you need to have a seat at the table; which is why I applaud HBCU students who are interested in pursuing government and policy and have worked with both Democrats and Republicans in Congress to ensure they have summer internships opportunities on Capitol Hill.

Representative Bryne (R-Ala.) and I founded the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus in April of 2015; we knew there needed to be a platform to promote and protect the needs and interests of HBCUs around the country. After two years, the caucus now consists of nearly sixty members in both the House and the Senate, who recognize the importance of HBCUs and applaud their history of producing successful graduates.

The more than 100 HBCUs nationwide only account for three percent of all institutions of higher learning in the U.S. yet they produce 20 percent of African American graduates with a bachelor’s degree and 25 percent of African American STEM graduates. This issue is personal to me, because I would not be here today if it were not for an HBCU that was willing to take a chance on me. I am a strong advocate for our schools because I know, firsthand, the impact they have on a student’s life.

During the summer of 2016, Representative Mark Walker (R-N.C.) and I partnered together to create the Bipartisan HBCU Internship. Our vision was to create a program that brought bright and driven HBCU students to Capitol Hill to intern in both a Republican and Democratic office.

During its first year, two HBCU students, one from North Carolina A&T University and one from Johnson C. Smith University, traveled to Capitol Hill for the internship program. Each student spent four weeks in my office and four weeks in Representative Walker’s office to get a feel for the differences and many commonalities we share.

They attended congressional hearings and committee meetings, drafted memos and constituent correspondence, and met with Members of Congress and their senior staff to learn from their experiences. Often, Capitol Hill internships are unpaid and the prohibitive cost of living in Washington, D.C. without an income excludes many qualified applicants from the opportunity.

To ensure students of all backgrounds and economic levels can participate, the Bipartisan HBCU Internship includes a stipend to cover expenses during the eight-week program.

Upon completion of the internship, students left D.C. with writing samples, work experience, incredible memories, and personal connections to aid them in their job search after college. But it’s not just students that benefited from this experience, Democrats and Republicans alike got to hear directly from HBCU students about their campus life, challenges they face, and their pride in their institutions.

Congressman Walker and I are proud to continue this internship for a second summer to increase the diversity of opinions and experiences on Capitol Hill and to build a pipeline of HBCU students to Washington, D.C.

For more information about the internship, please visit Adams.house.gov.

By Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-N.C.)

North Carolina A&T will roll into the NCAA Division I Track and Field Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., in record fashion after completing an historic NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round for an HBCU.

The Aggies will send 13 athletes to the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field, June 7-10 for the NCAA championships. Over the three days of the East Preliminaries, the Aggies took down numerous school records and will have more representation than any other North Carolina institution at the NCAA championships in two weeks. They will also send more athletes to the NCAA nationals than any other HBCU in history. Prairie View A&M and Alabama State will send five athletes followed by one each from Maryland Eastern Shore, Hampton and Bethune-Cookman.

The A&T men’s 4×100 meter relay team consisting of seniors Chris Belcher, Caleb Gabriel, junior Rodney Rower and freshman Jaylen Mitchell nearly took the top qualifying time for the East Preliminaries but was defeated by a narrow margin by Auburn (38.74) and LSU (38.75) to finish third in 38.76. The top 12 times advance to NCAA nationals. The foursome’s time broke the school record of 39.44, set during this season’s MEAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships at N.C. A&T’s Irwin Belk Track. It was the same runners save for junior Joel Thomas ran instead of Mitchell.

The women’s 4×100 team was also impressive. Junior India Brown, sophomores Yakira Love and Kayla White and freshman Taliyah Townsend sprinted to a school record as they qualified for nationals with the 10th-best time (44.01). One more Aggies’ relay team saw success on Saturday when the 4×400 team qualified for nationals with a school-record time. Senior Dorian Claggett, junior Dajuan Harding, sophomore Justin Hamilton and freshman Najee Reams completed ran 3:06.14 to be the 11th team out of 12 to qualify finishing ahead of Clemson and Florida State.

Belcher and Brown will represent the Aggies in three different events in Eugene. Both qualified on the men’s and women’s side in the 200 meters. A day after running the fastest qualifying time to reach the quarterfinals with a school-record 20.06, Belcher qualified for nationals in 20.31. Brown also pulled off a trifecta by finishing her 200 meter race in 22.92 to break her own school record of 22.98 recorded at the Tom Jones Memorial hosted by the University of Florida on April 28.

White is headed to nationals in the 100-meter hurdles as she qualified in 13.18 a day after breaking the school record by running 12.94. White broke an 8-year old record set by Loreal Smith at 12.97. White had the sixth-fastest qualifying time on Saturday. Also for A&T, sophomore Lasheon Strozier qualified in the men’s triple jump with a personal-record 51-feet, 10 ½-inch jump.

During the third and final day of the East Regional, Alabama State’s men’s 4×100 meter relay team (Josh Davis, Justin Davis, Kevin Sprains and Devin O’Neal) finished top-three in their heat, earring an automatic qualifying bid to nationals. They will join long jumper Jamie Brown who used a 7.58 meter (24-10½) to finish eighth overall.

Prairie View A&M junior Deonca Bookman qualified with a season best time of 57.84 in the 400 meter hurdles on Friday in the NCAA West Regionals at the University of Texas. Bookman finished third. PVAM’s men’s 4×100 relay team broke the previous school record posting a time of 39.34 to also clinch a berth. The team of Keon Campbell, Samuel Omoera, William Polley and Carl Jordan posted the record-setting time.

Hampton freshman Jaelen Williams qualified on Friday night as he finished seventh overall in the 400 meter hurdles in 50.32. Williams won his heat to automatically qualify for the championship.

Bethune-Cookman’s Michael Tiller won the triple jump Saturday at the East Regional with his final leap of 53 feet, 7 inches breaking the B-CU record of 53 feet, 1 inch set by Louis Brown at the 2006 Penn Relays. This will be Tiller’s first appearance at the NCAA outdoor championships.

With a school record setting time of 8:46.62 in the 3000 meter steeplechase, Maryland Eastern Shore senior Khalil Rmidi Kinini advanced. Kinini placed ninth at the NCAA East Preliminaries earning one of the 12 top spots needed to advance.

With his ninth place finish this year, he becomes the first Hawk since Gayon Evans in 2014 to advance this far during the outdoor season. He also will become the first HBCU representative to compete in the 3000 steeplechase at nationals.