Randolph Ross gave his father quite a dad's day gift. The Garner native qualified for the US Olympic team with a third-place finish in the 400m finals on Sunday night at the US Team Trials.
The day started with a Happy Father's Day text sent to dad, Duane, who is also his coach at North Carolina A&T. The text also included a line that caught dad's attention.
"'Let's go make this Tokyo trip.' And I looked at my assistant coach and I said, 'hey man this kid is about to make this team," Duane Ross said. "And that was a touching moment. "
Randolph crossed the line at 44.74, narrowly clinching a spot in the Tokyo Games.
"I knew the race was close. But seeing your name pop up as third with them little Olympic rings beside it, it was amazing," Randolph said. "It's like something you can only dream of."
Nine days earlier, the rising junior Aggie ran the fastest time in the world at 43.85 to win an NCAA national championship in the 400m. Like father like son: Duane won a national title jumping hurdles at Clemson and was on the 2004 US Olympic team.
"Having the honor of going and representing your country but not even going alone, having somebody that you've been running with since high school is just unbelievable," Randolph said.
It made his father a little emotional on a day made for dads.
"I remember those days and just seeing that all come full circle," Duane said. "I got a little teary eyed watching him jog around the track just seeing the happiness on his face. Just so pleased for him."
Randolph could have gone to any of the Power Five schools but chose to run for dad and the Aggies. There is tremendous pride representing A&T and Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
"Although A&T and me and Trevor (Stewart, who qualified in the 4x400 relay) and everybody else are building and adding onto the legacy, it didn't start with us," Randolph said. "So, it's important to know where your roots come from and how it all started."
On rested legs in Tokyo, Randolph will be a favorite to win a medal and has the talent to be on top of the podium when it's all said and done.
He is one of four Aggies who will be on the Olympic squad.