Cross country teams run locally at Miccosukee Park

After opening the first month of the season on the road, the Florida A&M University men’s and women’s cross country teams finally competed close to home Saturday. The FAMU men finished fifth and the women finished eighth in the Florida State University Invitational at Miccosukee Greenway Park.

“It was real nice that we were in our own town. That was sweet, that was excellent,” Brandon West, a senior from Royal Palm Beach, said of the event’s convenience. Carlos Franklin echoed these sentiments.

“We didn’t have to leave Friday and miss class. That helped out a lot,” said the freshman from Winter Haven.

With a time of 26 minutes, 2.56 seconds, West paced the Rattlers with a sixth place finish in the 8K run. West was one of three FAMU runners to finish in the top 10. Franklin and senior Brian Griffith finished seventh and eighth respectively.

“I was very happy with my performance, but I was even more happy with the team performance. I think we did very well Saturday,” West said.

Omari Crawford, Chris Roberts and Stephon James also finished. The Rattlers are off this week and travel to Troy, Ala. next Oct 21. Franklin said the shorter distance of the course – a 5K this time – may help the team’s confidence entering the MEAC Championships at the end of the month.

“We’re just going to bring this conference title back home,” said West of the team’s motivation.

Senior Lindsay Thomas, of Sicklerville, N.J., finished 43rd despite sinus problems that made it difficult for her to breathe through her nose.

“I was a little sick, so it’s pretty good for being a little sick. I managed a good time,” said Thomas of her 20:44.13 finish in the women’s 5K run.

Jeanna Dorcelin said she was pleased with her own performance. But the senior from Palm Beach was more excited about the progress of freshman Daphne Exume and the rest of the team.

Exume’s times at the beginning of the season were close to 30 minutes. She clocked in at close to 25 minutes Saturday and continues to set personal records on the trail.

“For somebody to knock five minutes off her time is amazing,” Dorcelin said. “We’re right on track with where we need to be.” YaTandrea Burke and Darah Valville also finished.

FSU captured both overall team titles. The University of West Florida’s Michael Padilla finished first in the men’s event with a time of 25:19.71 and Jessica Crate of FSU won the women’s event with a time of 17:46.72.

Embry-Riddle, the University of Tampa, Troy University and the University of North Florida rounded out the men’s event. All the aforementioned schools plus Jacksonville University competed in the women’s event.

FAMU will host a track camp Saturday at 10 a.m. FAMU returns to action at the Troy University Invitational.