Rattlers Fall Short at Pepsi Florida Relays; Team Faces Unity Problems ahead of MEAC

The men’s track and field team experienced a somber ride home from Gainesville’s James G. Pressley Stadium on Saturday night as its performances during the 68th Annual Pepsi Florida Relays were below expectations.

Florida A&M showed glimpses of promise early in competition, but it would not amount to much more.

Unity issues plagued the Rattlers’ performances down the stretch and led to one of their humblest outings of the season.

“It was a good meet in [some] places,” head coach Wayne Angel said after the relays. “We’re making strides in order to make an attack for a top-three finish at the MEAC (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Outdoor Championship). But outside of that, there isn’t really anything to talk about.”

Angel added: “There are still individuals on the team who aren’t quite team players. They have to learn that in order for us to be

successful, they have to forget about themselves and think about the team. That’s a big concern. As a coach, I have to make some tough decisions.”

Distance runners Elias Chesire and Shuaib Winters were highlights for the Rattlers as they both charged to top-10 finishes in the 3000m steeplechase. Chesire sprinted to seventh place with a mark of 9:10.50, while Winters dashed to 9th place with a mark of 9:28.80.

“It was a great performance,” Winters said. “I would like to have done a little better being that this is my last year. I just need to be more aggressive in my races.”

The 4 x 200m relay team – Jeremy Tillman, Derrick Morgan, Charief Lewis and Defario Phillps – charged to sixth place in a collective effort with a time of 1:26.22.

“We came out with a lot of fight but didn’t finish how we should have,” Tillman said. “We really didn’t meet our potential in some races. We did good, but we could have been great.”

Morgan expressed a similar sentiment about the team’s display.

“We’ve pretty much run much faster times this season in many events,” said Morgan, who also placed 44th in the 400m dash (48.26). “But you live and you learn. We’ll make the necessary adjustments this week in practice.”

The 4 x 800m relay team – McDaniel Olivier, Lamere Buchanan, Owalabi Deji and Chesire – earned a 10th-place finish, which was good for a personal-best time of 7:42.65.

Tillman later darted to 17th place in the 100m dash with a time of 10.46, while highly touted sprinter Niko Richey scurried to 22nd place in the 200m dash with a personal-best mark of 21.06.

All-American Steve Emere leapt to 21st place in the 110m hurdles with a time of 14.13, while Deji later scampered to 39th place in the 800m run with a mark of 1:55.25.

FAMU will look to redeem itself Saturday during the Seminole Invitational on the Mike Long Track at Florida State.