The Fall Semester was overall a good one for Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) in the athletic realm, as the various teams all trended upward in 2016, setting the stage for the spring squads to continue in 2017.
Women’s Cross Country brought home a record fifth straight Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) title. The volleyball team captured the MEAC Southern Division, but fell in the MEAC Tournament finals. Football showed signs of revival on the field and in the grandstands among fans in 2016, while both basketball teams and the women’s bowling team opened their campaigns toward the end of the semester.
FAMU Women Win Record 5th Straight MEAC Title
Florida A &M University broke a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) record with its fifth straight Women’s Cross Country championship at Delaware State University on Oct. 29.
The Lady Rattlers scored 53 points to win its ninth overall MEAC title and a MEAC-record fifth in a row. The team averaged a time of 18:52.52 on the 5K course with all four runners finishing inside the top 15.
“Last year, we won our fourth in a row and set a FAMU record,” said head coach Darlene Moore, Ed.D. who was named Outstanding Coach for the fifth straight year. “In order to keep the kids from being complacent, we set the goal to go out there and set a MEAC record.”
Judith Kibii was named Outstanding Performer, and became the second Lady Rattler in school history to win the cross country championship after finishing first with a time of 18:02.60.
FAMU Places Third in FCS Home Attendance
The NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Statistics through Dec. 3, lists FAMU at No. 3 in average home attendance for the 2016 season.
FAMU drew 78,839 fans to Bragg Stadium for four dates, a total which was 11th nationally in total home attendance, but the per-game average of 19,710 was third – surpassed only by the University of Montana (25,377) and James Madison University (21,646).
Among historically Black colleges and universities in FCS, FAMU was No. 1 in average home attendance at 19,710, followed by perennial leader Jackson (Miss.) State at 19,660, good for fourth nationally. The Rattlers also led the MEAC in both total and average home attendance.
North Carolina A&T (72,360 in five games) was third among HBCUs with a per-game average of 14,472, while Alcorn (Miss.) State was fourth among the HBCUs with a 14,342 per-game average.
Those four schools – FAMU, Jackson State, North Carolina A&T and Alcorn State – were the only HBCUs listed in the NCAA FCS Attendance Top 20.
Nine Rattler Gridders Named All-MEAC
Nine Rattler football players have been named to the 2016 All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Team.
Jacques Bryant, the 6-0, 180-pound senior free safety from Tallahassee, Florida, was named to the All-MEAC First Team after he led the Rattlers in tackles for the second straight year, finishing the season with 71 takedowns (51 solos), with four pass interceptions for 127 yards in returns, to go with seven pass breakups.
He was the FAMU Florida Blue Florida Classic MVP on Nov. 19, when he finished with an interception and fumble return, along with five tackles against Bethune-Cookman University.
Earning Second Team notices were senior guard Keonte Cash (Miami), who was named All-MEAC for the third time in his career, and defensive end Elijah Price (Jacksonville), who finished with 15.5 tackles for lost yards, ranking among the MEAC leaders in that category. Price also had 2.5 quarterback sacks and 34 total tackles in 2016.
On the Third Team from FAMU were junior wide out Brandon Norwood (Atlanta), who finished with a team-high 51 catches for 458 yards and four TD receptions; senior DL Curtis Alexander (Quincy, Fla.), a Preseason First Team pick, who moved from end to tackle, finishing with 42 tackles (25 solos), with 6.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 quarterback sacks; sophomore cornerback Orlando McKinley (Atlanta), who had 38 tackles (26 solos), four interceptions for 108 yards, including a record-setting 100-yard TD return against Delaware State.
Also in this group was senior punter Colby Blanton (Jacksonville) who finished his final season averaging 41.1 yards per punt (59 attempts). He also made eight of 10 field goals (long of 39 yards), and was a near-perfect 13 of 14 on point after tries; freshman strong safety Terry Jefferson (Miami, Fla.), who had four interceptions for 99 yards, finished second overall in tackles with 48 takedowns (27 solos), and 4.5 tackles for loss; junior return specialist Kareem Smith (Haines City, Fla.), averaged 20.7 yards per kickoff return and 14.8 yards per punt return.
Rattlers Finish 5th in MEAC
FAMU (4-7, 4-4 MEAC) finished in a tie for fifth in the final MEAC Football standings in 2016, three spots higher than they were predicted to finish. The Rattlers, which won four of their final seven games after an 0-4 start, were forecast by the league’s coaches and sports information directors to finish in eighth place in 2016.
FAMU returns 15 starters from the 2016 squad, which improved on the 1-10 mark of a year ago, and they should form the nucleus of a 2017 club expected to make strides overall and in conference play.
Five FAMU Volleyballers Honored As MEAC All-Stars
FAMU’s Nicole Abreu and Bethune-Cookman’s Alana Handy were named MEAC Volleyball Co-Rookies of the Year. Abreu, a freshman outside hitter from Lima, Peru ranked sixth in kills per set (3.22), sixth in points per set (3.61) and seventh in hitting percentage (.260). She registered nine double-doubles in kills and digs.
FAMU placed two players on the 2016 All-MEAC First Team, freshman outside hitter Maria Yvette Garcia, from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and senior middle blocker Ginna Lopez-Chavez, from Lima, Peru. Abreu was one of two FAMU players to earn Second Team honors, along with sophomore libero Valentina Carrasco from Lima, Peru.
Three Rattler women were named to the MEAC All-Rookie Team: Abreu, Garcia and freshman hitter Elena Dimitrova, of Sofia, Bulgaria.
The FAMU Women’s Bowling team completed the first half of their 2016-17 schedule Dec. 3-4 in a MEAC Southern Divisional Tournament at Greensboro, NC. Coach Karen Brown’s club finished the two-day event 3-3, boosting the Rattler Women to 7-5 in conference play, and 15-20 overall, after four tournament appearances.
The freshman-dominated FAMU squad has been paced so far by Monique Ragland with a team-best 170.62 bowling average, and Demetria Bethel, who is next at 168.86, and owns the overall high game on the team of 224 in the Alabama State Invitational in November.