Improved Teams Seek XCountry Titles In Delaware
GREENSBORO (October 26, 2016) – Keeping everyone healthy proved challenging for the 2016 North Carolina A&T men’s and women’s cross country teams.
Despite the setbacks, the Aggies intend to show everyone that they are still an upper-tier team at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Cross Country Championships scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 29 at the Delaware State Outreach & Research Center—the same course both teams championed two weeks ago during the Delaware State Pre-Conference Run Invitational. The women will start the race with a 5k run at 9:45 a.m., and the men will begin their 8k race at 10:30 a.m.
“There are upper-level teams in the conference, and I think our men and women look to be up there,” said Perry Cabean, the Aggies distance coach. “On the women’s side, Florida A&M looks really good. Bethune-Cookman is looking strong, and we saw two weeks ago that Hampton is strong. “
On the men’s side, Cabean said Norfolk State’s times are impressive, and as returning champions, Maryland Eastern Shore is going to be a force.
“But we’ll be up there,” Cabean said assuredly.
UMES leads the men’s rankings and Florida A&M has the best standings for the women. Khalil Kinini of UMES holds the No. 1 position for the men, as he did last year, with his best mark of 24:02 in the 8k. He is joined by four other UMES competitors in the top-10. As for the women, FAMU representative Judith Kibii has the lowest mark; her time of 17:59 in the 5k has her positioned first. Kibii has three other teammates in the top-10 as well.
As for the Aggies, both the men’s and women’s teams have two runners in the top-20; all four athletes secured their season-lows at the Robert Shumake HBCU Challenge on October 1. Senior Darren White is ranked sixth with his season-low run of 25:42 in the 8k. Sophomore Hakeem Mustafaa is positioned 16th with a time of 26:22.
On the women’s side, freshman G’Jasymne Butler has a PR of 19:19 in the 5k that ranks 13th, and junior Miranda Green is listed as 17th in the conference with her best mark of 19:39. Cabean pointed out, rankings cannot be taken at face value alone. “A lot of meets are run on different courses, at different times, and even different distances so I don’t put a lot into those,” Cabean said. “I like to see what we do head-to-head.”
Last year, head-to-head, the Aggie men finished second and the women finished sixth. But this is not last year. Even though White has been consistent all season, the men’s team has suffered from the loss of graduate Perry Cabean, an injured Steve Stowe, a not-completely healthy Mustafaa and other nagging injuries from the freshmen. On the other hand, the men seem to be persevering and have recently been running as a unit.
“On the men’s side we have some good runners in the front, and then the men in the other positions are working hard to catch those in the front,” said Cabean. “When we’re running workouts they’re all running close together now and that’s what we need.”
The women have been lucky enough to stay healthy, but with freshman comprising most of the team, they have their own set of obstacles to overcome. They are growing, however. As the season comes to an end they’ve come into a better understanding of how the scoring works, and they’re working together better as a unit.
“I think this will be one of the better women’s teams we’ve seen in a minute,” said Cabean. “As a team both the men’s and women’s teams have really improved a great deal.”