North Carolina Central University (NCCU) has been selected to participate in the 27th Annual Honda Campus All-Star Challenge (HCASC) National Championship Tournament. The tournament will take place in Torrance, Calif., April 2-6.
Founded in 1989, the Campus All-Star Challenge is the oldest academic competition between students at America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Honda has sponsored the program since its inception.
The All-Star Challenge is open to all four-year, degree-granting HBCUs in the continental U.S. More than 50,000 students have participated in the competition, where schools vie to qualify for the annual National Championship Tournament (NCT). NCCU has had a team in 25 of 26 previous season championships.
NCCU hosted a National Qualification Tournament on Feb. 6, where the varsity team won its third regional qualifier in three years, defeating Chicago State University 495 to 465. NCCU finished the tournament undefeated, beating Chicago State University, Livingstone College, Paine College and Shaw University in the round-robin, and Winston-Salem State University in the semifinals.
The tournament win earned the team an automatic bid to the national championship tournament. Returning members from the 2015-2016 varsity team are: Zuri Gurganious, a senior geography major from Castle Hayne, N.C.; Emani Mills, a senior psychology major from Charlotte; and Jelaina Shipman, a senior criminal justice and psychology major from White Oak, N.C. Mills has been selected as this year’s captain. A new member of the varsity team is Damian ‘DJ’ Medearis, a junior business administration major from Abilene, Texas.
The team members hone their skills by being challenged in practice by six additional team members who are vying for a spot on the varsity team. Those participants are Yaseen Abdul-Malik, a freshman business major from Durham; Temilade Aladeniyi, a sophomore biology major from Charlotte; Mary Booze, a freshman mass communications major from Murphy; Joshua Strayhorn, a sophomore history major from New Bern; Miracle Thomas, a junior biology major from Atlanta, Ga.; and Christian Wortham, a junior biology major from Kellar, Texas.
The club is advised by Clayton Mack Jr. and coached by Christopher Graves and Janice Dargan, Ph.D. Graves’ tenure has included several highlights, including six finishes among the final eight teams and two national championship appearances (2006, 2009). The coaches are assisted by several dedicated faculty, staff and alumni volunteers throughout the school year.