Another North Carolina A&T student-athlete is turning pro in 2017. Christopher Belcher came out in a North Carolina A&T track and field uniform for his semifinal 100-meter dash race at the 2017 USATF Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, Calif., on Friday. When he came out for the final, the A&T was gone, and he was uniformed completely in Nike.
Belcher, who had one more year of eligibility for indoor track and field, signed a professional contract with Nike on Friday, thereby ending his collegiate career as an Aggie. The good news didn’t stop there, Belcher also finished third in the U.S. 100m final to earn a prestigious spot on the United States Track and Field team along with Olympian Justin Gatlin and NCAA 100-meter champion Christian Coleman out of the University of Tennessee.
Belcher, who has developed into one of the best sprinters in the world, continued that ascent on Friday through two qualifying races that made him a member of the U.S. national team. There were two semifinal 100m heats. To make Friday’s final, Belcher needed to finish in the top-4 of his heat. To make the U.S. team he needed to place in the top-3. With interlocking A&T logo across his chest, Belcher placed fourth in his heat and eighth overall with a time of 10.22. It was close to his slowest time of the season, nearly matching the 10.24 he ran on April 8.
“He had a bad race,” said North Carolina A&T director of track and field programs Duane Ross. Ross said he simply told his star sprinter to fix it. Belcher not only fixed his technique, he changed uniforms. In the two hours between races, Belcher signed with Nike to make the obvious official, he was not going to return to A&T for his final year of indoor track and field. In his new Nike outfit, Belcher ran a 10.06 to finish third behind Coleman’s 9.98 and Gatlin’s 9.95. The trio will represent the US in London, Aug. 4-13 at the IAAF World Championships.
“We knew it was coming,” said Ross about Belcher signing with Nike. “He is going to have a nice career. He is still going to train in Greensboro, and he is going to finish school, so this is an exciting time for him, for our program and for the entire North Carolina A&T University family. Chris is a prime example of coming in, doing what is asked of you and working hard until you see the types of results you want to see. You still have to work hard. It’s not only about talent.”
Belcher turned a lot of eyes toward him when he ran a wind-aided 9.99 at N.C. A&T’s Irwin Belk Track on April 15. He carried that over to the MEAC outdoor championships in May when he won three conference gold medals (100m, 200m, 4×100) to help the N.C. A&T men’s track and field team win their first conference title in 21 years. A month later, Belcher clocked a 9.93 in a semifinal heat at the NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore., to become a first-team All-American. His 9.93 is still the third-fastest time in the world this year.
Belcher also earned first-team All-America honors in the 200m and 4×1. The 20.01 he ran at the NCAA championships is the sixth-fastest time in the world in the 200m this year. The 38.48 ran by Belcher and his 4×1 teammates at the NCAA championships (semifinal heat) is the eighth-fastest time in the world this year.
It has been a banner year for Aggies turning pro. Tarik Cohen was drafted in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears in April. Cutter Dyals was taken in the 17th round of the major league baseball draft in June by the Atlanta Braves.