Aggies Are Talented, Young
New Faces: Imani Coleman (Fr.), Miranda Green (Fr.) , Dejah Jones (Fr.)
They’re Back: Daniqua Dye (So.), Nichole Parker (Jr.), Imani Harris- Quillen (So.), Deonna Rorie (So.)
Key Losses: Janessa Benn
Strengths: Daniqua Dye
Expectations: The Aggies are a young and need someone to be a leader.
Preview: Duane Ross has a women’s cross country team talented enough to compete. What is his worry? Their youth.
Ross, who enters his third season as the Aggies director of track and field programs, is trying to find leadership among a team that includes three freshmen and three sophomores.
Ross is very focused on getting the men’s and women’s track and field programs prepared for taking the triple crown, which he describes as winning the cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field titles.
“I’m depending on (sophomore Daniqua Dye) and some of the freshmen to really grow up and mature quickly,” says Ross. “Cross country is not like track, where you get out there and just race. It’s a lot of pace, tempo, knowing your position in the race so we’re going to need them to mature pretty quickly.”
Dye was the team’s third top runner behind graduate Janessa Benn and junior Janay Ferrell, who is no longer with the team. Dye placed 43rd in the 5k at the 2013 MEAC championships with a time of 20.50.20. But Dye is not the only runner that has Ross’ hopes up in 2014.
“Our women’s cross country team is very young, but with the passing this group has, I’ll take that any day,” says Ross.
Ross’ latest recruiting class was designed to help the overall program. They are hungry and ready to compete, according to Ross. Freshman Miranda Green (King George, Va.) was the conference cross country champion in 2013 and placed ninth in Virginia as a senior. Her fastest time in the 5k is 19:12.
Freshman Imani Coleman (South Orange, N.J.) is a primary 800 meter runner. She was all-conference all four years of high school and all-state in 2011 and 2013. Her fastest time in the 800 is 2:13.80.
“Our girls are talented, I’m excited for them,” says Ross. “It’s going to be an excited year for us. All the coaches are excited, the girls are excited and everyone is ready to go.”
Last season the Aggies placed eighth overall at the MEAC meet. This season, despite the Aggies’ youth and inexperience, a top-three finish is the goal. It is not totally out of the question. In 2009, the women placed second in the MEAC with a team made of six underclassmen and one upperclassman.
The Aggies will start their 2014 season at the Western Carolina Cross Country Invitational on Aug. 29 in Cullowhee, N.C. The MEAC Cross Country Championships is scheduled for Nov. 1 in Princess Anne, Md.