SMYRNA, Del. – Seven North Carolina A&T cross country runners received All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) honors as the men’s team finished second and placed five in the top-10.
The Aggies were looking to defend its cross country title from last year but fell short to Norfolk State who placed the top three finishers. The Aggies streak of winning MEAC track championships ended at five straight.
“We are a little disappointed not defending our championship,” sophomore Regan Kimtai said. “But I have to accept the defeat and I’m planning for indoor and outdoor and the next cross country. We are going to bring back our titles.”
Four Spartans recorded the first five spots, but then five Aggies crossed the finish to make up the top-10 in the 8k event.
Kimtai led the Aggies with a six-place finish as he crossed the finish line in 25:49.92 followed by sophomore Morris Kimble who finished seventh in 26:07.57. Senior Mar’Quise McGee finished eighth in 26:16.80 and freshman Devon Williams finished ninth with a personal-best 26:34.59.
The last scoring runner for the Aggies was freshman Jordan Richardson who came 10th with a time of 26:46.01. All five runners will earn All-MEAC honors for finishing in the top-15.
“As a team, all of our top-five was in the top-10,” Kimtai said. “That was good. For me, everything was good, but at the beginning of the race, like at the 500-meter, my back started hurting me, but I was fine. I didn’t give up. I said, ‘let me try my best.’”
Kimtai’s personal-best time was 25:13.4 set at the Greensboro Cross Country Invitational on Sept. 28, which was the fourth-best time heading into the championship.
“When we are talking about cross country, it’s always about the spread and the spread was great,” said distance runners coach Ernest Barrett. “We kind of came up short. Regan had a little trouble with his back.
We’ve been working on that for the last three weeks and so he was hoping he would have been fresher to go. But we clearly see what the results were. It wasn’t the best running for him, but the other four guys did a good job and I’m proud of them.”
The final scoring runner for the Spartans finished in 14th place to give NSU 25 points. The Aggies compiled 40 points followed by Maryland Eastern Shore (122 points), Howard (145 points) and Morgan State (163 points) to round out the top-5.
In the women’s 5k race, senior G’Jasmyne Butler led the Aggies with a fifth-place finish that included a personal-best time of 18:46.47. Sophomore Shalah Means finished in 15th place with a personal-best time of 19:48.07. Both runners earned All-MEAC honors for finishing in the top-15.
“These girls were training well and consistent during the season,” Barrett said. “I’m really proud of G’Jasmyne going out with a fifth-place finish. Shalah is the future of the team as a sophomore. We are going to build on that and see if we can come here and win the championship.”
Despite Butler and Means being the only Aggie women to run, they wanted to make the trip count for something.
“I think we did really well actually,” Butler said. “We both went at it like it’s just us, so let’s make sure we leave this with some hardware. I think that we executed very well. We tried to work our way up and take home a medal and make this trip worthwhile.”