Track team takes over the Big Apple

Rattlers’ track team in New York City before competing in the HBCU Showcase. Photo courtesy: @kmdstudios

The Rattlers’ track and field team took on New York City for their indoor season opener at the HBCU Showcase.

The FAMU women’s team placed third overall with 67.5 points, while the men took fourth place with 58.5 points. North Carolina A&T’s teams dominated the meet, winning first place with over 120 points for both men’s and women’s teams.

Despite the second and third-place rankings, the Rattlers still competed hard with eleven top-three rankings.

The first-place individual finishers included senior Lauryn Hall, running a 7.63 in the women’s 60m dash. Junior Dajon Clark finished first in the men’s long jump, jumping slightly over 24 feet (7.52 meters). Freshman Jordyn Ash also snagged a first-place position while making her college debut in the women’s long jump. Ash won the competition with a jump of a little over 18 feet (5.67 meters).

Ash, who had a lot of fun at her first collegiate meet, is excited to see her growth throughout the season and compete against herself to outdo her personal best.

“I went into the meet not expecting much or to conquer the world or anything, but the outcome was much greater than I thought it would be,” Ash said. “Winning this meet was a confidence builder. In this sport, your confidence and mental capacity make a big difference.”

The men’s and women’s 4×200 relay placed second, with the women’s time being 1:43.08 behind NCAT and the men’s time of 1:29.81 behind Delaware State. 

Clark was pleased with his performance and trained hard in the off-season to be prepared for this season. Although very proud of the overall performance, Clark noticed some weak areas in his team’s performance. Clark has set his personal goals for this season and is excited to see what spring has in store.   

“I have a good amount of goals this season,” said Clark. “I want to make it to indoor and outdoor nationals, win SWAC… and not just compete, but compete well.”

He was happy to experience his first trip to New York with his team and thinks it is important for Nike Yard Runners and other big athletic companies to host events for HBCU athletes.  

“It was nice to see how we stacked up against other HBCUs from up North,” Clark said. “It’s nice to network and meet people, and doing it with your HBCU family… as HBCUs, we have to stick together.”

Pache’ Caldwell, a senior, had an outstanding performance at the showcase in the high jump, placing second, clearing a height of six feet 10.75 inches. Caldwell’s high energy and celebratory backflip on the high jump mat sent the crowd into applause. 

“I had to recover from an injury last season, so it’s good to be back and healthy,” Caldwell said. “I’m looking forward to going to nationals and jumping seven feet this season.”

The Rattlers are headed by the newest program director, Garfield Ellenwood II, known by his team as Coach Gee. Ellenwood has years of coaching experience, including leading multiple track athletes to the Olympics games.

The Rattlers will prepare for their next meet in Gainesville for the two-day Alachua County Collegiate Invitational on Jan. 26-27. You can find this season’s track and field schedule on the FAMU Athletics website.