Rattlers Track Team Shines at Seminole Invitational

Rattlers track and field head coach Wayne Angel had little to smile about last week in Gainesville. This week at Florida State is a different story.

Florida A&M’s effort to redeem itself from its humble performance during the Florida Relays was successful as it claimed top-10 finishes in 12 events during the Seminole Invitational on Friday and Saturday at the Mike Long Track.

The Rattlers also qualified for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Outdoor Championship in three events, bringing its qualifying total to 19 overall on the season. The championship will take place May 3-5 in Greensboro, N.C. at North Carolina A&T’s Irwin Belk Track.

“It doesn’t matter what sport you’re in; you’re going to have those peaks and valleys,” head coach Wayne Angel said. “Last week, we had a valley. But we’re so consistent that we can bounce back from that, and we did. We’re really starting to come together in effort to accomplish our top-four goal at MEAC.”

Highly touted sprinter Jeremy Tillman blazed to first place in the 100m dash for the Rattlers with a mark of 10.53. Defario Phillps displayed a promising performance in the dash as well, charging to fifth place with a time of 10.94.

“Our attitude made the difference for us this week,” Tillman said. “We responded positively coming from last week. We turn last week into a stepping stone toward getting better, and we used it as a learning tool from past mistakes.”

Tillman contributed another golden performance in the 200m dash as he surged to first place with a time of 21.42. Senior standout Niko Richey finished one second behind for second place (21.43), while Derrick Morgan dashed to fourth place (21.99).

All-MEAC runner Shuaib Winters led a large contingent of runners in the 5000m dash, as he darted to first place with a time of 14:46.75. Winters said the balanced competition at the invite played a role in FAMU’s success.

“There weren’t many teams at this meet,” Winters said. “Everyone was equally matched at this meet; that’s why we stepped up. I went out there and stayed aggressive.”

FAMU’s control continued in the 800m run as mid-distance specialist Owalabi Deji stormed to fourth place with a championship-qualifying mark of 1:52.94. Lamere Buchanan followed closely with a notable fifth-place finish (1:53.60), and McDaniel Olivier taped seventh (1:57.11).

Distance runner Elias Chesire flashed to a top-five finish in the 1500m run as he placed fourth with a personal-best mark of 3:57.91.

Freshman Carlton Nyalls soared to third place in the 110m hurdles (15.10), while Jean Leon leapt to seventh place (16.85) to round out the Rattlers’ top-10 finishers. Nyalls later placed fifth in the 400m hurdles (57.11).

Top-10 performances continued for the Rattlers in the long jump: Timothy Upton (6.23m), Phillip Washington (6.07m) and Leon (5.96m) each placed sixth, eighth and ninth, respectively.

Other noteworthy performances included All-American Steve Emere’s third-place finish in the triple jump (15.02m), Xavier Mackey’s fifth-place finish in the shot put, and Timothy Upton’s fourth-place finish in the javelin throw (48.18m). Emere’s and Upton’s distances were good for a championship berths.

FAMU will look to continue its momentum Saturday during the Tom Jones Invitational in Gainesville.