GREENSBORO -- The annual A&T/NCCU cross country relay competition will look a little different.
Saturday, the men and women’s cross country teams will travel to Durham, N.C., in what used to be a break from the traditional women’s 5k and men’s 8k races.
In the past, each team formed a relay team and a runner from each squad had to run 1,000 meters five times. This equaled to a total distance of 5,000 meters for each runner. The difference between doing a normal 5k race was that runners were able to rest while their teammates ran their 1,000 meters. It was a fun way to give runners a break from the normal rigors of a cross country trial.
However this year, the women will compete in a 4k race and the men will compete in a 6k to give the competition more of a traditional feel. Neither race is the normal distance for either the men or the women. The women usually compete in the 5k and the men in 8k.
The only hiccup with the change in format is distance coach Perry Cabean prepared his workouts this week for the relay format. The competition will still give the Aggies a chance to prepare for longer distance races in the future.
“We have a lot of history and tradition with Central, and I honor and respect the conditions surrounding the change,” said Cabean. “I probably wouldn’t have scheduled the Western Carolina meet if I knew we were going to do this one. I still think it’s a good opportunity for two schools that have a tradition of rivalry in several sports to get together and compete.”
Last year the women placed second at the A&T/NCCU relay and the men placed third. Sophomore Janay Ferrell ran a total time of 14:26. Junior Saeed Jones was the winner of the meet with a time of 15:25. Junior Christian Harrison finished second for the Aggies at 15:47.
Redshirt senior Janessa Benn, who is the Aggies top runner on the women’s side this season, will be competing. Her presence may give the Aggies an edge.
“This weekend I expect us to be extremely competitive when we’re going against N.C. Central,” said Cabean.
Benn and Ferrell will go head-in-head with N.C. Central’s sophomore Amber Brooks, who took first place overall last year. On the men’s side, freshman Franky Mills, who led the Aggies last weekend at Western Carolina, and Jones look forward to leading the men to victory.