In Running: A Classic Dress Rehearsal

Many people consider the Disney Classic to be just another field event. The men’s cross-country team, however, recognizes it as something much bigger – a dress rehearsal.

The Florida A&M men’s cross-country team plans to use the 16th Annual Walt Disney World Cross Country Classic this Saturday in Orlando as a dry run for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Championship.

The team wants to make an impact with the MEAC championship only three weeks away.

“Everywhere we go, we think about the MEAC championship,” head coach Wayne Angel said. “We think about what we have to do to at least be in the mix of things. One thing we have come up with is to use the Disney classic as dress rehearsal for MEAC.”

To set the stage for Disney, Angel has prepared a regimen that includes detailed workout plans and specific individual assignments. The goal is to help the runners focus on their individual responsibilities and to make improvements wherever necessary. However, Angel realizes preparing a regimen alone will not yield results.

Because of the classic’s competitive atmosphere, the team must have the mentality to match their intense training. More than 30 teams will attend, including Florida Tech, South Florida, UNC Pembroke and Drake University, the favorite to win.

“Going into this meet, we are aware of the many teams that will be vying for a win,” Angel said. “Our athletes are very fit and are running faster than they’ve ever run in their lives. What I have to do is get them mentally focused so they can concentrate on what they have to do to get the job done.”

Angel said if his runners succeed during their workouts, they will have the mental preparation necessary to be impactful during the classic and the championship.

“When they know they can accomplish certain workouts, they gain confidence. They no longer feel as if they are in foreign territory,” Angel said. “When that mental aspect is taken care of, running in such big competitions will be a breeze.”

Lamere Buchanan plans to apply Angel’s approach with certainty.

“Our responsibility is to execute whatever strategy Coach Angel has planned for us,” Buchanan said. “It is also important that we enter Saturday knowing that we will only be competing against a handful of teams that work as hard as we do.”

Shuaib Winters, 2010 MEAC individual champion, takes a similar attitude toward the team’s responsibility.

“Any strategy Coach Angel has planned for us, with confidence, we will follow it to a tee,” Winters said.

During last year’s championship, Winters (first, 24:31.30) and Buchanan (11th, 26:04.40) each placed in the top 15, leading FAMU to a 120-point, fifth-place finish. This year, the team is seeking to improve to a top-three spot.

The classic will take place at the Walt Disney World ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at 7:45 a.m.