The women’s cross country team held true to its goal of coming in no lower than third in any meet this season. Florida A&M raced to a second place finish in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference cross-country championship on Saturday.
The team traveled to the campus of Maryland Eastern Shore in Prince Anne, Md., for the event and did not disappoint head coach, Darlene Moore.
“I was impressed with the ladies performance. They trained very hard all season long and it showed with how they competed,” Moore said.
Moore said the ladies exceeded expectation, despite Mother Nature’s attempt to deter the team’s progress.
“The young ladies had to deal with tough competition and inclement weather. The temperatures reached 38 degrees, we saw wind up to 20 mph and it rained the entire race,” Moore said. “Through it all, the ladies went back and forth with the defending conference champions [Hampton University] and we came up just a little short of the title.”
Leading the way for the team was sophomore Simone Durden, who finished third with a time of 19:08.89. Durden said the level of competition didn’t affect the team’s plan, let alone her own.
“I felt like someone had to lead the team, even though we aren’t dependent on one person. It helps motivate the team to do better and I wasn’t afraid to take the challenge. I wanted the top spot, but things will definitely change next year,” Durden said. “I’m happy with the girl’s overall performance. We did better than last year and next year we are going to take the crown.”
Durden, along with teammates Nadine Mulvany (4th 19:09.58) and Chandelic Jackson (14th 19:45.10), earned All-MEAC honors for their performance in the tournament.
Jackson said the victory will bring notice to the campus that the program is on the rise.
“I thought it went well. The team improved a lot from last season. Everyone is pretty excited from what it could mean for the upcoming indoor and outdoor track,” Jackson said. “It was very encouraging to know that we are bringing something back to the university to let other athletes and students know that our team is serious.”
The team finished five points behind the Lady Pirates, who took the crown. Moore said the growth by the ladies this season will have major implications on next year’s outcome.
“The main thing is the ladies were mentally prepared to endure all the obstacles that came their way. I knew they were physically prepared from how hard they worked all year long,” Moore said. We are going to use that momentum to propel us to do much of the same for the upcoming track season and in next year’s cross country season.