Men’s Track Team Looks to Unite at Birmingham on Dec. 8

The men’s track and field team sees the opening meet of the 2011-2012 season as an opportunity to strengthen its unity while qualifying for a championship berth in the process.

On Thursday, Florida A&M will travel to the Birmingham Metro CrossPlex in Birmingham, Ala., to participate in the Birmingham Ice Breaker Invitational.

Head coach Wayne Angel said the team’s number one goal for its first dose of action is to develop a sense of unity and coordination. Harmony among the squad will produce team identity and restore the program’s championship legacy, he added.

“The main goal that we’re looking for with this meet is unity,” Angel said. “We want to come together as a team, compete hard as a team and not let our teammates down. We want to build on that so, as we go into each meet, we are one – we are FAMU. We’re trying to get that tradition back, and I think this year is going to be the jump-off point.”

Steve Emere, a sprinter/hurdler transfer from South Plains Juco, Texas, said he is on board with his coach’s aims. He even said this invitational will mark the beginning of a season that will gain the attention of some of the nation’s strongest conferences.

“This is the Ice Breaker meet, the very first meet,” Emere said. “We want to build our level of unity and then work to surpass it; that will make a huge impact. We’ll end up letting the SECs, the Big 12s and the other teams on that level know that we’re back on the map.”

Patrick Cooney, a shot putter from Goulds, Fla., said he and his fellow teammates have already taken strides toward a connection.

“I believe we’re there. We actually see each other as brothers,” Cooney said. “We work hard and we push each other. Throwers, jumpers, sprinters – we all work each other. What coach is doing out here is great. He has built this program to win.”

Another goal for the invitational, according to Angel, is to qualify as many men for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Indoor Championship as possible, which takes place in Prince Anne, Md., on Feb. 17-18.

During Clemson University’s Orange and Purple Classic, the team’s opening meet last season, eight athletes qualified for the championship.

Simply qualifying for the championship does not solidify a berth, but Angel believes it does put them in a “strong potential scoring capacity.”

Angel said this feat would also provide momentum as the team moves toward the Ed Temple Invitation, its second meet of the season, which takes place in Nashville, Tenn. on Jan. 7.

Angel said the team’s commitment to hard work during the preseason would help it succeed during its first meet. Weightlifting, moderation training, running techniques and mental exercises were among the team’s focuses.

“All those things that make you better as an athlete, we’re working on right now,” he said. “This will help us get to where we need to be.”