Top-Three Finish on Minds of Track Team

Success has been the theme for the Florida A&M track and field team this season, and it has no plans to change the subject.

Determined to conclude their victory-filled indoor season on a high note, the Rattlers have set their sights on a top-three finish during the 2012 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Indoor Championship in Landover, Md.

The goal for Thursday’s championship is a substantial improvement compared to previous performances, as FAMU finished the meet seventh overall during the last two seasons.

The Rattlers will match up against several established programs. Head coach Wayne Angel, however, said that has no sway on the confidence he has in his team, which garners a No. 8 rank in the southern region, as voted on by the United States Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association.

Among the teams competing are Maryland Eastern Shore, North Carolina A&T, Hampton and Norfolk State, winner of the last six MEAC indoor championships.

“Our goal is to shoot for a top-three finish,” Angel said. “Beyond that, we want to have some individuals qualify for the national championship. The way I see it, Norfolk State is going to be the clear favorite. But there’s going to be a close competition for that second place trophy.

“We don’t have the depth of Norfolk state, but we have a lot of quality individuals who can do special things. We’re excited about this meet, but at the same time, we know we have to battle.”

The crucial step toward a top-three finish during the championship, Angel said, is to advance as many athletes as possible from the preliminary rounds to the finals. This would increase the team’s overall scoring potential, he said.

“The guys have to place where they need to,” Angel said. “The key to this thing is to get as many people to the finals as you can. Then, you have the bullets to do the scoring that you need. The more bullets you have to fire out that gun, the more effective you are in terms of scoring.

All-MEAC runner Lamere Buchanan, who earned an 11th-place finish (4:32.44) in the mile run during MEAC Indoor Championship last season, said the team is in great position to carry this season’s momentum into the championship.

“We’re going to perform excellent,” Buchanan said. “We’re going to perform just like we have during the previous meets. We’re all going to perform at our best position because everybody’s ready. Once the nerves and jitters get out of everyone’s system, we’re going to lay it down on the track.”

All-MEAC runner Shuaib Winters, who blazed to third place (15:20.26) in the 5000m run during last year’s championship, said a positive mindset is a key factor in successful performances amid a championship atmosphere.

“It’s more of a mental battle at this stage of the season,” Winters said. “We have been training and performing, so it’s all about what we believe we can do.”

The championship will be held in the Prince George Sports & Learning Complex. Competition will begin at 1 p.m.