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(Clinton, Ms.) For the first time since 2014, the Dillard University men's 4x400 meter relay team qualified for National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Nationals in May. The relay team finished fourth at the Inaugural Mike McMillan Invitational on the campus of Mississippi College at James E. Parkman track, posting a time of 3:17.47. The team is comprised of Toren Arnold (JR/New Orleans, La.), Jaylen Stamps (FR/Los Angeles, Calif.), Hampton Craig (SO/Port Allen, La.) and Artis McCoy (FR/Las Vegas, Nev.). Before the 4x4, Arnold ran his best race of the year, earning a first place finish out of 26 runners in the men's 800 meter run, posting a time of 1:54.58, just one second shy of the NAIA nationals mark of 1:53.5.
"Our 4x4 relay team was actually a breakthrough this past weekend, because we had been sitting at three minutes and 18 seconds for about three weeks, so I made a line up adjustment with one of our runners and it payed off," said Dillard track and field Head Coach Bobby Williams. "As for Toren, we have been working very hard for him to get the correct time to qualify for nationals; we've been doing a lot of speed and interval training in practice as well as working on him finishing strong in the last 200 meters. I think he will qualify this weekend in Alabama."
Arnold, a transfer from Loyola University, has been one of the bright stars in this program that has seen plenty of success since Williams took over the program.
"I can honestly say that it is a blessing to just be here at Dillard University surrounded by great athletes, both male and female," said Arnold. "My teammates work extremely hard and I feel it was meant to be for us to qualify for nationals in the 4x4 in Mississippi. I think this is just the beginning. Regarding my first place finish in the eight, all glory goes to God. This is my first time to finish first in the 800 in college, so it means a lot to me, but I owe it all to my coaches (Coach Bobby and Coach Chark) and also to my teammates who continue to push me. I can always hear my squad and my S.I.D. cheering me on during my races and that encourages and pushes me. And I also have to give credit to my mom. You see, she bought me some brand new 'bleu' track spikes and she wrote me a letter to go along with the gift, and the main message said 'slow feet don't eat,' so she basically meant that if I didn't finish in the top three, I couldn't eat that night," said a joking Arnold.
Sophomore Joseph Caldwell (SO/Houston, Texas) picked up a fourth place finish in the men's pole vault, leaping a height of 3.20 meters while teammate freshman Artis McCoy finished eighth in the men's 400 meter dash, posting a time of 49.05. McCoy also competed in the men's 200 meter dash, finishing 13th out of 46 runners with a time of 22.24.
Jean-Marck Charles had a solid finish in the men's 400 meter hurdles, posting a time of 59 flat which was good for third place while teammate Tavis Baptiste picked up a 13th place finish in the men's shot put, throwing a distance of 11.73 meters.
Stephano Flowers (JR/Terry, Miss.), the Mississippi native, made his return home and finished eighth in the men's 100 meter dash, posting a time of 11.03 while teammate Quamel Sessoms (SO/Portsmouth, Va.) finished 16th in the same race, posting a time of 11.13. Sessoms also participated in the men's long jump and the 110 meter hurdles, finishing third place and eighth place respectively, leaping a distance of 7.10 meters and posting a time of 15.54 in the hurdles.
With a time of 42.26, Dillard's 4x100 meter relay team finished fifth out of nine teams. The team is made up of Sessoms, McCoy, Eliott Cleveland (JR/Houston, Texas) and Tyrone Barrow (FR/New Orleans, La).
On Friday, April 7, the Bleu Devils travel to Mobile, Ala. to participate in the University of Mobile Invitational which is held on the University of South Alabama's campus.