NC A&T Belcher a possible contender for the Olympics
6/16/2017, 1:01 p.m.
Christopher Belcher is North Carolina A&T State University’s rocket man in shorts and spikes, powering the Aggies to new heights.
Racing at the NCAA Division I Track & Field Nationals in Eugene, Ore., Belcher was third in the 100 meters, fifth in the 200 meters and ran a leg on the Aggies’ third-place 4x100 relay team.
Demonstrating stamina as well as explosive speed, Belcher competed in all three events in about two hours on Friday, June 9.
The Long Island, N.Y., native was the top reason A&T scored 16 points to finish the nationals tied for 14th place, the highest position ever for any historically black college or university.
“Christopher is by far one of the hardest working athletes I’ve ever coached,” said Coach Duane Ross.
“He wants it all — NCAAs, Olympic Trials and eventually the Olympics. He is an absolute joy to coach and watch compete, and his future is very bright.”
In the 100-meter semifinals on June 8, Belcher ran the event in 9.93 seconds, the second fastest time by a collegian this year and the sixth fastest time ever at the NCAAs.
In the final, facing a stiff headwind, Belcher finished third to champion Christian Coleman of Tennessee.
Coleman ran a 10.04 in the final, after setting the NCAA record of 9.82 in the semifinals. The previous NCAA mark of 9.89 was set by Florida State University’s Ngonid Manusha in 2011.
The only Americans — open or collegiate — to ever run the 100 meters faster than Coleman are Tyson Gay, Justin Gatlin and Maurice Green.
Belcher was fifth in the 200 meter final at 20.66 and helped the Aggies’ 4x100 team to third place in 38.57.
HBCUs from the MEAC and SWAC conferences have not fared well since going to Division I. The MEAC was formed in 1971 and gained Division I status in 1980.
Prior to that, MEAC was in the NCAA’s Division II.
Norfolk State University’s Steve Riddick still holds the NCAA Division II record for 100 meters and went on to win a gold medal in the 4x100 relay at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.
North Carolina Central University’s Larry Black won a silver medal in the 200-meter competition and a gold medal on the 4x100 relay team at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.
The greatest ever HBCU Olympic runner was Florida A&M University’s Bob Hayes, who won the 100 meters at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo while also anchoring the victorious 4x100 team.
Belcher, who transferred last year to North Carolina A&T State University from Monroe Community College in New York, will head to the west coast for the U.S. National Championships on June 22 through 25 in Sacramento, Calif.
He is in a position to contend for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team that will compete in Tokyo in 2020.