AUSTIN, Texas -- As the Chicago State University men's 4x100 relay team headed to the National Championship meet this week, they had already reached unprecedented success for the Cougars' track and field program. But just making it to the big stage wasn't enough for freshman Matthew Brown, sophomore Olesson Cesalien (Orlando, Fla./Evans), junior Ricordo McKenzie (Montego Bay, Jamaica/Cornwall College) and senior leader Carlton Sims (Gary, Ind./Westside), who ultimately finished the season ranked No. 17 in the nation, among Division I 4x100 relay teams.
After making it to the West Regional meet last weekend, for the first time in 19 years, the team then went on to clinch a spot into the Division I National Championship meet for the first time in program history.
"To see this program develop from where we were years ago to now, competing at the National Championships, is outstanding," said Head Coach Craig Collins. "A lot of credit goes to the athletes who worked incredibly hard to follow the plan that my staff and I set for the team back in the fall. Our goal was to be here, at the National Championship. So, to see our goals materialize the way they have has been absolutely amazing."
As the 4x100 preliminary races took place Wednesday afternoon, Brown, Cesalien, McKenzie and Sims represented CSU by competing against top-tier track and field powerhouses such as University of Oregon, University of Florida, Louisiana State University and Texas Tech University. Despite the high stakes, the team finished 17th overall running a 39.56-second relay, shattering yet another school record.
"This is a great example of how hard work pays off," noted Collins. "The hard work led us to nationals. We wanted this to put our program on the map. We did this for Chicago State and all the other small programs like ours, to prove that it is possible to compete at this level. I could not be more proud of what we have accomplished together this season."
With the conclusion of the 2019 outdoor season, Brown, Cesalien, McKenzie and Sims can check Chicago State record holders, WAC Conference Champions, West Regional Qualifiers, National Qualifiers and All-American honors off their to-do lists.
"This is just the beginning," Collins concluded. "The plan is to qualify again next year with more events and even more athletes. I can't wait."