PRINCESS ANNE, Md. - The North Carolina A&T men's cross country did not perform well at its first meet of the 2012season, the Elon Invitational. Afterward, the team received a stern message from new director of track field programs Duane Ross. Cross country is a sport we plan to be competitive in, and therefore, you must compete.
The message is apparently starting to take hold. On Saturday, the men finished fourth at the 2012 MEAC Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships at Maryland Eastern Shore. It was their highest finish in 17 years. The women finished sixth overall with senior Kristin Rush leading the way with a fourth-place finish.
"I'm really proud of how our teams competed," Ross said. "They've made huge strides this season, and we believe the best is yet to come."
Sophomore Saeed Jones led an A&T men's team that scored 174 points. Florida A&M took the title from four-time defending champion Norfolk State by scoring 28 points to the Spartans 49-point second-place finish. Florida A&M's Elias Chesire took the individual title in 24:54.96. Jones ran the 8k trail in 26:31.43. Sophomore Christian Harrison finished in 27:56.23 to place 28th.
Rush finished outside of the top 10 the past two seasons after finishing second as a freshman. She returned to form by completing the 5k race in 19:11.60. She finished less than two minutes behind individual winner Petra Kubesovaat of UMES.
"Kristin has been so consistent this year," Ross said. "I'm proud of how she has led this team. She's going to do great things on the track this season."
The Florida A&M women won the team title with 63 points and a total time of 1:38:00.34.
"We didn't have our best meet, which was needed to run with FAMU this year," Ross said. "They have a great team."
The Aggies scored 180 points and had two other runners finish in the top 25. Freshman Janay Ferrell (19:58.25) finished 20th and Samira Johnson (20:13.12) placed 25th.
The Aggies will now turn their attention to the indoor season, which starts in January.