Head coach Wayne Angel was a “happy camper” when the Florida State Relays ended at the Mike Long Track on Saturday. He had every reason to be.
The Rattlers track and field team excelled on the grandest stage it has competed on all season, producing several notable performances while qualifying for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Outdoor Championship in three events.
With a little over a month until the championship, FAMU has now qualified in nine events. The championship will take place May 3-5 in Greensboro, N.C.
“We had a great day,” Angel said after the relays. “It’s very early in the season, but the team is starting to come around. Everyone is clicking on all cylinders, and I’m proud of them.”
Angel added: “FSU is one of the best programs in the country. For us to be running with them at the same level is a great feeling. Knowing we can step up to the plate against them makes us that much better, and it elevates our confidence level. That’s the confidence we’ve been striving for.”
Jeremy Tillman led a large contingent of runners in the 100m dash, as he blazed to first place in a time of 10.43. Niko Richey followed closely with an impressive second-place finish (10.60), while Defario Phillips finished seventh (10.87).
Derrick Morgan displayed a golden performance in the 400m dash, as he earned first place in a time of 47.12.
Angel said he is awestruck by the performances of Tillman and Morgan, who are team walk-ons. He said the pair’s performance this season exceeded those of many of the recruited athletes.
“They are performing better than my scholarship athletes, which is a big thing,” Angel said. “These guys are hungry and driven, and they’re making our team that much better.”
Distance runner Shuaib Winters continued the pace for the Rattlers with a first-place finish in the 5000m run in a time of 15:15.57, which was good for a championship berth.
Elias Chesire impressed during the 3000m steeplechase, as he surged to second place in a championship-qualifying time of 9:27.14, 18 seconds ahead of third place.
Mid-distance runner Lamere Buchanan bolted to second place in the 800m run in a championship-qualifying time of 1:53.81, while Owalabi Deji finished seventh (1:54.98).
“We did excellent, and it shows that hard work pays off,” Buchanan said about the team’s performance. “The team is filled with determination, so we went out there and showed it.”
The 4 x 400m relay team – Morgan, Richey, D’Athony Lewis and Steve Emere – raced to second place in a time of 3:11.54, three seconds better than its season-best time (3:14).
The 4 x 100m relay team shined to third place in a time of 40.56, edging FSU (fourth, 40.84).
Tillman and Timothy Upton both earned top-10 finishes in the javelin throw. Tillman placed ninth (44.84m), while Upton finished 10th (41.64m). Jean Leon followed in 13th place (35.14m).
Carlton Nyalls (15.49) and Phillip Washington (15.58) finished 13th and 14th, respectively, in the 110m hurdles. Timothy Upton (16.59) followed in 18th place.
FAMU will return to action April 6 at the University of Florida Relays in Gainesville.