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Saint Augustine’s sprints to third consecutive NCAA Div. II Outdoor Track & Field title

ALLENDALE, Mich. – Saint Augustine’s University displayed its superior depth in winning a third consecutive men’s national crown at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships on the Grand Valley State University campus Saturday, May 23, 2015. The Falcons have claimed 36 men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor titles overall under legendary Head Coach George Williams, who now has the most NCAA track and field championships as a coach, regardless of division.

The Falcons clinched the victory in the men’s 200-meter dash late in the meet. They trailed 50-47 to the University of Findlay heading into the event, but Burkheart Ellis, Jr. finished third in the 200 to give the Falcons a 53-50 lead with two events left. The lead held as the Falcons won their 13th NCAA Division II men’s outdoor title. Ashland University placed third with 43 points. The Lady Falcons tied for eighth among the women’s teams with 26 points. Central Missouri won the women’s outdoor title with 59 points followed by Lincoln (Mo.) University with 50 points and New Mexico Highlands University with 42 points.

SAU’s men’s squad entered Saturday with 10 points after David Shaw, Jr. won the triple jump Friday. This was the first time in Williams’ illustrious 39-year coaching career that the Falcons competed without a men’s 4×400-meter relay team in the finals. The Falcons had won 21 of 28 men’s mile-relay races at the NCAA outdoor championships, and were the three-time defending champs in their signature event. The Falcons also competed without a high jumper or a 400-meter hurdler in the finals, but they had more than enough sprinters to take home another championship trophy. “It was a blessing,” Williams said about the Falcons’ latest championship. “The kids did their jobs well and came through for the team.”

The Falcons stepped up in the other men’s events to quickly move up the leaderboard. The 4×100-meter relay team held off Pittsburg State University to finish second and Moussa Dembele was seventh in the men’s 110-meter hurdles early in the meet. The 4×100 squad consisted of JaQuan Demiel, Ellis, Kevaughn Hewitt and Daniel Jamieson.

The pivotal race was the men’s 400-meter dash when the Falcons scored 19 points to take their first lead. Omar Johnson, ranked first in the 400 for the final five weeks of the regular season, won the national title in the event while Khari Herbert, Jr. (So./Coral Springs, FL) was third and Ellis placed sixth.

Several other Falcons scored critical points late. Jamieson placed sixth in the men’s 100-meter finals and Immanuel Hutchinson finished fourth in the men’s 800-meter finals. Their points helped the Falcons keep pace with Findlay, who re-gained the lead briefly before Ellis pushed the champs ahead for good in the 200.

In the women’s events, Livingstone’s Quanara Hayes became only the second women to win three consecutive outdoor national titles in the 400 meter dash. She is also the first female to capture national titles in both the 400 meter and 200 meter races at the nationals.

In addition to the national titles won by Shaw, Johnson and Hayes, SAU Lady Falcon Tia-Adana Belle won a national title in the 400 meter hurdles. She entered the meet as the top-ranked 400-meter hurdler for the last eight weeks and she did not disappoint, running a career-best 57.45 seconds to win an event she had dominated during the regular season. Belle also helped the Lady Falcons place second in the women’s 4×400-meter relay and eighth in the women’s 4×100-meter relay. Other national champions from HBCUs included Janae Johnson of Lincoln in the 100 meter dash, Ladonna Richards of Lincoln in the 100 meter hurdles and Lincoln’s 4×100 meter women’s relay team. Johnson C. Smith’s men’s 4×100 meter relay team also took home a national crown.

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Williams went into the meet tied with Texas A&M University Head Coach Pat Henry for the most NCAA track & field championships as a coach before surpassing him Saturday. Williams, also the St. Aug’s athletics director, has the most NCAA track & field titles for a coach at one school, regardless of division, and the most NCAA Division II track & field championships as a coach.

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