SMYRNA, DEL. (October 27, 2018) – Months after his North Carolina A&T teams historically won the men’s and women’s Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference indoor track and field championships followed by the men’s and women’s outdoor MEAC championships during the 2016-17 school year, director of track and field programs boldly wanted all six track championships the MEAC offers.
It was lofty goal Ross set considering he was coaching one program who had not won a men’s cross country championships in three decades and another program who was without a women’s championship.
As of October 27, 2018, it no longer looks like a far-fetched possibility for future school years after the N.C. A&T men won the 2018 MEAC Cross Country Championship Saturday at the Delaware State Outreach & Research Center. It was their first title since 1983.
Ross made his statement after bringing in distance coach Earnest Barrett who like Ross, came to N.C. A&T with a reputation for winning championships.
“Coach Barrett, our staff, and most importantly our team have really worked hard this season, said Ross. “They went out and took this championship and they deserve it.”
The Aggies grabbed the trophy with 51 points and an average time of 28:00.22 during the 8k race. Savannah State placed second with 86 points while Bethune-Cookman rounded out the top-3 positions with 89 points.
N.C. A&T’s win could send a shivering effect throughout the league considering a school known as Sprinters U with its numerous All-Americans and conference championships in sprinting events, won a distance championship despite inclement weather and treacherous course conditions. Just staying on their feet became a challenge for runners.
“Being a program that is viewed as a sprints program, our cross country team has struggled with its identity in the past,” said Ross. “The message this season has been it doesn’t matter how everyone else sees this program. What matters is how we see us. We’re winners regardless of what distance we compete.”
N.C. A&T’s top-5 runners finished in the top-20 overall. Freshman Regan Kimtai was the first Aggie to cross the finish line at 26:50.8 for a second-place finish. Kimble, who was in third place before taking some spills, finished sixth at 27:40.5 just ahead of junior Mar’Quise McGee who finished at 27:44.2 for seventh place. Kimtai and Kimble claimed their first All-MEAC honors as top-15 finishers while McGee earned All-MEAC honors for the second consecutive year.
Junior Dequan Maddox ran a 28:46.4 to place 17th, while senior Hakeem Mustafaa was the fifth Aggie runner to cross the line to secure the win with a time of 28:59.2.
“I’m so very proud of how the team competed today,” said Ross. “They really came together as a family this week and not just a team. In my opinion, this made up much of the difference.”