After a disappointing last-place finish three years ago, the Lady Rattlers’ cross country team is ready to strike back at this year’s Mountain Dew Invitational. This Saturday, the team will travel to Gainesville to compete in the University of Florida’s annual meet.
It’ll be hard to follow their performance last weekend. The team is facing what head coach Darlene Moore said is one of the toughest meets of the season.
The team has started the season off with their third straight win at the Albany State Invitational Cross Country meet last Saturday. They were able to get a perfect score by sweeping the first five places. The first meet was a training tool that set the standard for the rest of the season.
Although the upcoming meet is a 5K, which is a shorter distance than the team ran at ASU, it will be more of a challenge. The team has to overcome the loss from FAMU’s disappointing finish in the meet. The Rattlers will also face regional ranked teams such as the University of Florida, the University of Central Florida and the University of Miami. Moore said their goal for this year’s invitational is to be a top 10 team.
To prepare for the meet, the Lady Rattlers have been improving their endurance and working on finishing stronger.
“We have become very focused on our goals for the season and much more competitive at practice,” said Moore.
The ladies train hard mornings and evenings to improve their times and increase their confidence.
“While you’re rolling over in bed, we’re running at 5:30 in the morning,” said Zenia George, a junior occupational therapy student from St. Lucia. “Training may get hard, but we push each other to always complete it.”
Chandelic Jackson, a junior criminal justice student from Detroit and the team’s captain, also commends her teammates on encouraging each other and remaining positive on and off the track. Jackson knows they can’t take any days off.
“As the leader, I try to stay motivated at practice and push myself so that my teammates can also push themselves,” Jackson said.
A combination of good recruits and stronger veterans has pushed this team to meet even higher expectations. The team is looking toward a promising season as they challenge Division 1 teams in their region and work toward this year’s MEAC championship title.