TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The FAMU men's and women's cross country teams capped one of the most successful runs in the history of the sport on Sept. 26 by repeating as MEAC champions. Last season was the first time the Rattlers and Lady Rattlers would hold both crowns together and this year, they added to the historic legacy. Guiding these teams are Wayne Angel and Darlene Moore, Ph.D.
The teams have not only gotten it done on the field, but six of the runners also made the MEAC commissioner's All-Academic team. Zenia George, Chandelic Jackson, Effiey Kosgei and Ciera Williams made the All-Academic team from the women's side, while Kevin Marindich and McDaniel Olivier made it from the men's squad.
On the course, the Rattlers made history by earning a No.9 ranking in the south region, as awarded by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). This is the first time a FAMU cross country team has registered on the poll. Powered by two-time USTFCCCA national athlete of the week and four-time MEAC Most Outstanding Athlete Elias Chesire, the Rattlers pulled off a huge upset, knocking of Florida State in the FSU Cross Country Invitational.
The Rattlers made quick work of the MEAC championship, finishing in first through fourth places and defeating the second place Howard Bisons by twice the score. Chesire took his second consecutive cross country most outstanding athlete, after winning it in 2012 as well. Chesire, the junior runner from Eldoret, Kenya, led the charge, winning first place in 25:04.00 in the 8K race.
Daniel Cheruiyot placed second for the Rattlers, coming in in 25:17.10. He was followed by teammates Kevin Marindich 25:27.90 and Geoffrey Sambu at 25:28.00. This combination represented four athletes with a combined perfect score of 10 points. Robyel Kidane took the No.20 slot in 27:14.20 to seal the voctory for the Rattlers. Dieumy Duclos took the No.22 spot in 27:21.50.
Angel was named Most Outstanding Coach by the MEAC, for the second consecutive year as well. He was pleased with the overall championship performance. "Our team had an outstanding meet. We had the goal of taking the 1-2-3-4 sweep, which I thought we were capable of if we ran our race. The reality of it happening is something to behold. I was really pleased with how our Rattlers executed our strategy. They stayed on our race plan and the results reveal that they are a formidable force when they do that. Words can not express how proud I am of these young men. Back-to-back champions...what more could you ask?"
Moore also earned her second consecutive Most Outstanding Coach award from the MEAC. For her career as a track and field/cross country coach, this was her 14th championship.
Effiey Kosgei, led the Lady Rattlers taking second place overall, just .8 seconds behind Morgan's Ashley Seymour. Kosgei finished in 18.10.80 to earn All-MEAC. QuanDra Shanks took third place at 18:27.90 and Cynthia Chelelgo took eighth place in 18:45.80, both earning All-MEAC honors.
Zenia George took 18th place in 19:31.80. She was followed by Chandelic Jackson who took 21st place in 19:36.40. These scores constituted the first five to cross for the tournament, giving the Lady Rattlers 52 points and another MEAC championship.
Rounding out the FAMU squad was Phyllis Cheruiyot (25th place, 19:57.50) and Ciera Williams (45th place, 20:58.80).
Moore was pleased to repeat as champions. "They say it's harder to repeat than win the first one. I think it has to do with the pressure placed on a champion. I am proud of my young ladies for responding to the challenge. The MEAC is getting stronger all around us in cross country, so we have to continue to improve, and I thought our team did very well to run their race today. We are happy to bring this trophy back to campus for all our school to enjoy. I stress to our runners that when we compete, we are ambassadors for the university and we take it very seriously. This outcome represents what is expected of us when we put on that orange and green," Moore concluded.
The Rattlers will compete in the NCAA regionals in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Nov.15., while the Lady Rattlers will forgo the automatic bid, as the team won despite nursing several injuries.