GARNER, N.C. (WNCN) – The list of famous athletes who went to Garner High school is astounding: NBA stars David West and John Wall, along with NFL standouts NyHeim Hines and Chris Culliver, to name a few.
This year, they have to make some room on the list for their first Olympian. Randolph Ross is headed to Tokyo. He is set to compete in the 400m. The Garner graduate and North Carolina A&T student is simultaneously following in the footsteps of his father and blazing his own trail.
It’s already been a summer to remember for the Garner native. He finished his sophomore year at North Carolina A&T as the NCAA 400m champion and followed it up by making the U.S. Olympic team with a third-place finish in the qualifiers.
“That’s always been a dream — just being in college and running for a college is already great enough,” Ross said. “But being able to go out there and represent your country in something that you love to do is just a blessing in itself.”
With his North Carolina A&T teammates Daniel Stokes, representing Mexico; Akeem Sirleaf, running for Liberia; and Trevor Stewart making the US 4×400 pool it would have been a disappointment if Ross didn’t make the Olympics.
“It’s amazing that our whole relay team, and not just one or two, was able to go participate in a stage as big as that,” Ross said. “When we get there, it’s going to be competition, of course, but at the end of the day we’re still together.”
Then there’s the family name to live up. His father isn’t just his college coach. He’s also a champion. Duane Ross ran for the U.S. team in the 2004 Summer games in Greece.
“You have only three people make it per event out of everybody in the nation, and being able to go is just an experience in itself,” Ross said. “The legacy my family has is something that a lot of people probably won’t be able to do and something that’s not easy, either, so I’m just glad I could add onto it.”
As for what to expect from his experience, Ross is taking it all in stride.
“I have no clue. It’s going be my first year and everything is still kind of new to me, but I know we leave on the 24th,” Ross said. “We have some stuff we have to fill out, some paper before that, but to my knowledge, it’s just train, train, train until it’s time to go.”
And if you college track stars think just because Randolph is now an Olympian that you won’t have to worry about him next season, think again.
“I’ve had the opportunity to go pro, ran fast times this year,” Ross said, “but I think I want to (set) collegiate records indoor and outdoor first before I go.”