With a time of 17:40.63 in the women’s portion of the 5,000-meter race, Florida A&M student Emmax Kiplagat received the gold medal for her performance at the MEAC Indoor Track & Field Championships that took place the final weekend of February.
Also, at the MEAC Indoor event, school records were challenged and conquered by the likes of Jazmin Dennis and Taylor Gorum outperforming the competition; with Dennis recording a 13’0.25 mark in the women’s pole vault and Gorum surpassing her teammate Alelee Figueroa with a distance of 19.11 meters for the new record.
With Kiplagat being such an outstanding performer during her career at FAMU, this is something that was not shocking to her team, specifically team captain Figueroa, who considered the achievement “not surprising.”
“Not surprising at all. I came onto the team with Emmax and I’ve seen her growth as a runner. She’s made so much progress since her first year. From scoring, to placing, and now taking gold.”
The Rattlers acquired success as a whole team in the 5K event, notably having five runners place within the top ten, with Kiplagat receiving gold and her teammates: Shalet Mitei, Nancy Murgor, Sharon Kibiwott, and Mercy Rotich claiming 3rd, 4th, 7th, and 8th respectively.
Balancing sports and schoolwork responsibilities all while being an international student can be a challenge that has not deterred Kiplagat so far in her college career, something that has not gone unnoticed by her captain.
“I had a class with her freshman year. Based off what I saw from that, it’s obvious that [Kiplagat] is very on top of her work. She’s an international student taking up nursing and running track at the same time.
“She has a lot on her plate. Her peers follow a similar path. Many of the international student-athletes on the track team take up rigorous majors like nursing. I say her work ethic came naturally bur developed with the help of her peers.”
This is one of the many accolades achieved by Kiplagat as she holds personal bests with times of 10:12.09 in the 3,000-meter event and 38:05.15 in the 10,000-meter event.
Markeisha Lewis, a second-year sociology major who competes in the shotput and discus throw portion of the events, sees her teammate as someone who is well-deserving and skilled enough to obtain her medal.
“[Kiplagat] is a really good long-distance runner…she is really good,” said Lewis, “I expected her to win, she fought hard for her medal.”
When asked about her intangibles that played a part in her successful weekend, she mentions her consistency and determination in practice.
“Her hard work and dedication in practice. She showed up every day and stayed focused on her running,” said the sophomore.
Kiplagat’s title win was something that almost didn’t come to fruition. Once the team seniors had a coming together moment as a group, it resonated with the group to keep striving for greatness. Figueroa discussed a meeting that took place that turned the morale of the team after realizing their ceiling hadn’t been reached yet.
“We had a team meeting after we knew we were going to place second in indoor. One of the seniors reminded us that if we each focus on doing our best, the points will come, not the other way around. If we each do our very best and win as individuals, we win as a team.”
The Rattlers are set to take field in Birmingham, AL at the NCAA Indoor Nationals March 8.