The Florida A&M men’s cross-country team views the University of Central Florida Black and Gold Challenge on Friday in Orlando as an opportunity to sharpen consistency in its performance.
According to head coach Wayne Angel, a reliable effort from every runner is necessary to succeed. Strong performances will decrease the time disparity between first and fifth place, he said.
During the Walt Disney World Cross Country Classic last Saturday, the difference between first and fifth place was more than seven minutes. First place finished in 25:10.18, while fifth place finished in 32:19.13.
“We are looking for consistency,” Angel said. “Collectively, we are going to need a strong, consistent effort from all five of our guys if we want to do well. Everyone must be able to stick with the pack.”
Maintaining this consistency begins with Shuaib Winters.
Winters, who is coming off a history-making performance at the Disney Classic, plans to mirror the strategy that earned him success.
“The plan is to go out there with the same strategy and mindset as last week,” Winters said. “My coach will have a strategy prepared, and that’s what I plan to follow.”
Angel is pleased with the way Winters is handling this responsibility.
“I’m impressed with the way he’s going through training and the way he is racing,” Angel said. “He’s listening and he trusts me. As a result, he’s racing at a consistent level.”
The addition of Elias Chesire, a recent signee from Eldoret, Kenya, will be a key factor for consistency.
The NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse has cleared Chesire, who has been out of action for the most of the season, to join the team. Even with the amount of time Chesire has missed, Angel believes he will be effective.
“Chesire can make a huge impact. He is a gifted athlete,” Angel said. “He can do a lot for us. From an impact standpoint, he alone can put us in a trophy situation. That means a lot for a program like ours.”
Self-confidence also indicates consistency, Angel said. If freshmen Robyel Kidane and Dieumy Duclos, each race with assurance, the team will benefit, Angel said.
“Right now, I think they just have to believe in themselves,” Angel said. “They can’t be afraid to feel discomfort when they race. They can’t give up. In cross-country, you just have to keep pushing.”
Kidane plans to enter the challenge with this sentiment in mind.
“A tough mental state and the drive to never give up is all I need this week,” Kidane said. “Pain and fatigue will be experienced no matter what. But a tough mental state will keep me focused and at a consistent pace during the race.”
Duclos also feels good about his chances of doing well.
“I’m always confident in my abilities,” Duclos said. “As long as I remain focused and in attack mode throughout the race, I will post a good time.”
Several teams will compete, including Nova Southern, Stetson, Embry Riddle and regional-ranked North Florida.
The challenge will take place at the UCF Track and Field Complex at 6:45 p.m. Friday.