As far as the Florida A&M men’s track and field team is concerned, the University of Florida’s L. Gale Lemerand Athletic Center is nothing to fear.
Mental preparation is a priority for FAMU, according to head coach Wayne Angel, as the team prepares to travel to Gainesville, Fla. to participate in Sunday’s Gator Invitational – a meet expected to display some of the region’s top-tier programs.
“The most important thing right now is getting them prepared mentally for what they need to do,” Angel said. “It’s about knowing that it doesn’t matter who they line up against; they are Rattlers and they can run with anybody in the country.
“If we can keep our focus in the right direction, I think by the time MEAC comes, we’re going to have all our ducks in a row.”
Among the many teams scheduled to compete are Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern, North Florida and Central Florida.
The team dominated during the University of Alabama at Birmingham Invitational last weekend, garnering several top-ten finishes, three Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Indoor Championship qualifiers and two victories.
According to Angel, the plan for this week is to emulate that success, as that would provide a solid base to build on as the team pushes toward the MEAC championship on Feb. 17.
“What’s next right now is to continue doing the things that have helped us be successful,” Angel said. “We still have to get the 400 and 800 meter group qualified. We’ve been doing some pretty tough workouts, and now we’re going to back off a little bit and get ready for Gainesville.”
All-MEAC runner Lamere Buchanan, who blazed to a top-10 finish in the 800m run in Birmingham (1:56.97), said individual “fine-tuning” is a key component this week as the team looks to produce another prominent performance.
“All we stress is to keep following coach’s workouts – they work,” Buchanan said. “We’ve done some speed training for the people who have sprints. The 800 (meter) guys have been doing some speed work. The distance runners are doing distance work to get their feet going. Pretty much, we’re fine-tuning everything.”
Charief Lewis, a 200m runner from New York, said it is important that the entire team reach the championship-qualifying standard during this meet because it will be one of its last chances to do so.
“We’re trying to get everybody qualified,” Lewis said. “Whoever isn’t qualified, we’re trying to get them on to the next round because this is basically our final-chance run. We have all the pieces; it’s just about bringing them together at the right time for a perfect track meet.”