If the Florida A&M Men’s cross-country team was limited to one word to describe the conclusion of the 2011 Mid-Eastern Conference Championship, “storybook” would do it justice.
Solidifying their goal, the men walked away from the MEAC Championship at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in Princess Anne, Md. on Saturday with a feeling of accomplishment. The team garnered 54 points and a second-place finish to cap the season.
This year’s results showed a major improvement compared to last year. Last year, the men earned 120 points and a fifth-place finish overall.
The team’s performance during the championship demonstrated that adverse weather conditions were no difficulty.
Despite temperatures in the mid-40s, constant rain and wind gusts, FAMU competed at a high level. It went head-to-head with three-time defending champion Norfolk State and trailed them by only 24 points in the end.
“They did a heck of a job. They battled Norfolk State all the way through,” said Head Coach Wayne Angel said.
“Overall, they accomplished their mission. They did what we all set out to do. They didn’t allow the weather or anybody stop them from accomplishing a top-two finish. I’m so proud of those guys.”
Shuaib Winters (second, 25:35.93), Elias Chesire (fourth, 25:58.23) and Lamere Buchanan (11th, 26:55.95) each finished in the top-15, achieving All-MEAC honors in the process.
Winters, last year’s individual champion and most outstanding athlete, said he fell short of his individual goal. He believes the team made up for that and is proud of how it competed.
“We were mentally prepared,” Winters said.
“We came into the race knowing nothing but God could hold us back from this performance.”
Winters lists this season as one of his better ones overall.
“It was definitely one of my best seasons. I still feel that last year was my best season, but this year my teammates got to experience the same feelings I had,” he said.
“Everyone back home has been supporting us and kept us in their prayers. I’m proud that we were able to come through for them this season.”
Despite the team’s slow start at the beginning of the season, Angel believes the team’s second-place finish shows that it has perfected its goals.
“I think this season was outstanding. We had to find our stride in the beginning because we are a young team,” Angel said.
“But as the season progressed and we started focusing on what needed to be done, things turned our perfectly. It was storybook,” he added.
Buchanan agrees with his coach.
“On a scale of one to 10, I’m giving this season a 10. We trained all year for this,” Buchanan said.
“Coming off last year, we had a huge improvement and took second place. We came here wanting a trophy, and a trophy is what we earned. We accomplished this season’s mission.”
Rounding out the team’s finish was Dieumy Duclose (17th, 27:17.17), Robyel Kidane (20th, 27:44.91) and Isaiah Coleman (50th, 29:59.76).
Norfolk State totaled 30 points for a first place finish. Howard (third, 76), Maryland Eastern Shore (fourth, 142) and North Carolina A&T (fifth, 167) rounded out the top five in the men’s standings.