New year, same goal

It may be a brand new year, but as far as the men’s track and field team is concerned, the first half of the season is still all about the same goal – making a splash at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Indoor Championship.

On Saturday, Florida A&M will travel to the Gentry Center in Nashville, Tenn. to participate in the Ed Temple Classic, hosted by Tennessee State University.

The Rattlers are seeking to build on their notable performance at the Birmingham Ice Breaker on Dec.8, the season’s opening meet, which garnered first-place finishes in four events and produced four MEAC-qualifying runners (Steve Emere, Elijah Owens, Jean Leon and Eddie Lloyd).

According to head coach, Wayne Angel, the team’s primary goal for this weekend’s invitational is to continue the trend it has started by adding more runners to its list of qualifiers. Angel said this feat would help build a “formidable base,” which he said would ensure a top-three performance at the championship.

“The goal is to continue to have guys qualify for the MEAC so we can continue to build a formidable base in terms of beating the score when we get there,” Angel said. “The most important thing is to qualify as many runners for MEAC as possible so that I can bring a team that will be able to challenge for a top-three spot at the conference when that times comes.”

Over of the winter break, out of respect for the holidays, the team did not work out in its routine format. Instead, Angel made training an individual responsibility for his runners. He said he is aware of the risks that coincide with that decision but believes his runners will return to action in top shape if they honor their commitments.

“A lot of them went home over the holidays, so really it’s one of those situations where it’s about the honor system and trust. Basically, it’s a commitment thing,” Angel said. “If they want to have a great season, they have to continue to be able to do the things that have made them successful.

If that falls by the waist side, then that’s nobody’s fault but their own. Hopefully they are team players and understand the commitment that’s involved in trying to achieve those things that we are trying to do,” he said.

Emere, who opened the season in Alabama with a first place finish in the triple jump (50-06.00), said he has handled his conditioning responsibilities well. According to Emere, his individual workouts over the holiday break will help him compete at a similar level while in Nashville.

“Over the break, I haven’t really been focusing so much on miles, but I have been running 200s (meters), 350s, hurdles and things like that. It’s not as heavy as practice is at school, but you have to stay in shape some way.”

Sprinter Niko Williams-Richey, who sat out with a hamstring injury during the season opener, said individual training is only half of what it takes to be successful. He said that on top of appropriate workouts, it is all about entering respective events with the proper mindset.

“It’s all about going in there focused and doing exactly what it is that you need to do. That’s how you come out on top,” said Williams-Richey, who is medically cleared to compete this weekend.