Track athletes stride toward success

Over spring break, FAMU track athletes got their sun and fun while hosting the 52nd Annual FAMU Relays March 8-9.

With the event drawing more than 40 high school and collegiate teams, FAMU got a look at what the 2002 outdoor season may hold.

Both men and women’s teams are heavily loaded with freshmen and sophomores and only a handful of seniors. But the two-day event showed promise from the underclassmen and consistency from the team veterans.

“We did great. The guys really came out here and stepped it up,” said FAMU men’s coach Rey Robinson.

Freshman triple jumper, Willie Johnson, managed to again set a personal record of 50 feet 3.25 inches to clinch second place. Since January Johnson has set a personal record every time he competes.

The victorious men’s 4X400 meter relay, made up of three underclassmen and one senior, was two seconds shy of provisionally qualifying for the NCAA Championships.

Other strong performances came from senior Masoui McBean, in the 800-meter run and sophomore Eric Ramsey in the 400-meter dash.

Though Robinson was pleased with the meet, he saw Saturday as a preparatory meet to begin preparing for the MEAC outdoor championships.

“If everyone stays healthy, we are going to win MEAC in the outdoor and we have some NCAA hopefuls,” Robinson said.

The men’s team finished a disappointing third in the MEAC indoor championships in February after leading by 15 points heading into the final day of competition.

And though 12 of the 19 FAMU women competing at the relays were freshmen, the teams performance was solid.

Seniors Shaunta Pelham and Santrice Russell went one and two in a speedy 400-meter dash, and senior Sherry Frances shot out of the blocks and never looked back to win the 100-meter hurdles.

“It was great to be out here today. It was like a homecoming day for me,” Pelham said. Pelham, who took a medical redshirt last spring, has not run since February 2001 due to hamstring injuries.

Like the men’s team, the freshmen women gave strong support for the women’s team. Standout freshman Sharneka Brown was third leg on the second place 4X100 meter relay and won the 100-meter dash and triple jump.

Freshmen Analeta Peterson and Shantrice Greene ran on the women’s 4X400 meter relay that missed first place by .7 seconds.

“I am excited to see what we do this year. I feel what happened in indoors is going to make us stronger,” said Peterson. The women had hopes of winning MEAC indoors but finished fifth.

Women’s head coach Donya Little said she expects the freshmen to help carry the team and is counting on them to perform to their potential.

“I know they will be leading the team next year and in years to follow, so my focus is to see their distances and times improve,” Little said.

FAMU men and women’s track teams will compete this weekend at the Florida State Relays. Running events will start at noon on Friday and 11:20 a.m. on Saturday.