PRINCESS ANNE, Md. – The North Carolina A&T men’s cross country team is progressing. A year after achieving their best finish in 17 years – fourth place – the Aggies did one better on Saturday at the MEAC Cross Country Championships.
Led by Saeed Jones and Darren White, the Aggie men placed third in the 8k championship event hosted by Maryland Eastern Shore. The A&T women placed eighth in the 5k led by redshirt senior Janessa Benn. Jones and White placed 11th and 14th respectively. Their top-15 finishes earned them All-MEAC honors. It was Jones’ second straight All-MEAC recognition. Freshman Franky Mills finished 16th to just miss MEAC honors.
Benn placed 14th to earn All-MEAC honors.
Florida A&M took its second straight title on the men’s side, while Howard finished ahead of A&T in second. The Aggies were followed by Norfolk State, UMES and Bethune-Cookman. The men’s top finisher was FAMU’s Elias Chesire. The top finisher on the ladies’ side was Ashley Seymour of Morgan State.
“I thought we had a good chance to finish top-2, but Howard had a great team,” said Duane Ross, North Carolina A&T’s director of track and field programs. “They need to realize during championship time we need to step it up. We beat Howard at the HBCU Challenge, but they turned it around at the MEAC meet.”
A&T ran a combined time that was two minutes faster than Howard’s combined time at the HBCU Challenge three weeks ago. But the Bison had three runners finish in the top-15 and ran a combined time of 2:13:13.60. A&T had four competitors finish in the top 20 and ran a combined time of 2:14:49.50.
“We’re coming together as a team,” said Ross. “This is better than we did last year. It’s progress, but I want us to start thinking like winners and champions. They need to learn that winning MEAC, regionals and nationals doesn’t make them champions, but we win those meets because we are champions. Champions step up to win.”
On the women’s side, Benn ran a 19:15.10. She was followed by Janay Ferrell’s 20:08.40 (33rd place) and Daniqua Dye’s 20:50.20 (43rd). Florida A&M took the ladies team crown followed by Morgan State, Hampton, Norfolk State, UMES, S.C. State and N.C. Central.
The next step for the Aggies is the NCAA Southeast Regional held in Charlottesville, Va., on Nov. 15.