Men’s cross-country team races to finish line

When the men’s cross-country season began, head coach Wayne Angel said in order to motivate his runners to do well, he must train them at a very high level – physically and mentally.

He kept his word.

The men’s cross-country team finished the season on top of the conference, doing everything expected. However, the runners believe they are capable of beating their times and training harder to improve their status for next season.

The Rattlers finished 12th in the NCAA South Region Championships Friday in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Junior Elias Chesire, the reigning Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference cross-country champion from Eldoret, Kenya, finished first for the Rattlers 30 minutes, 48.01 seconds in the 10K race, which placed him No. 27 overall at the regional meet. He was two spots away from moving on to the NCAA Championships.

Even though the Rattlers did not move on to the NCAA Championships, Angel is still extremely proud of his team.

“All of them did quite well,” Angel said. “They might have went out a little too fast. But in terms of competitiveness, it wasn’t that we left anything on the table. We went out and went after. They did exactly what they were supposed to do.”

Angel spoke highly of two freshmen members of the team, Geoffrey Sambu and Daniel Cheruiyot. He said in order to be at the national championship level, he will recruit two or more men to make a strong top five.

Sambu, who is from Nakuru, Kenya, finished third for FAMU in 31:13.39, placing No. 45 overall. He said he gained experience from the regional meet, and the team showed an overall improvement.

“When you’re running together, it’s the team spirit,” Sambu said. “When you look to your side and see your teammate, it gives you the motivation to run.”

Sambu also learned that a runner must run with pain.

Sophomore Kevin Marindich strained his calf before the regional meet. However, he still had to run.

The challenge Marindich faced motivated Sambu to run even faster, he said.

Cheruiyot, who is also from Eldoret,  finished second for FAMU in 31:06.81, which placed him in the No. 41 slot. He was happy going to the regional meet as a freshman. He said this boosted him.

“I never have been to Alabama,” Cheruiyot said. “We managed to run well, even though we did not go to the national championship. Next year we will be ready for the national level. We shall do better next year.”

Angel said he enjoyed working with the team this season.

“I think overall, I’m very proud of everybody and how they’ve performed,” Angel said. “I don’t think you could ask for much more. We’re one of the top sports here at FAMU. We’re continuing with that. It’s going to be a tradition.”

The team will start the track and field season Jan. 10.