The Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Cross Country teams are beginning treks from opposite sides of the spectrum as first-year director of track, Darlene Moore, looks to rebuild the men’s team from probationary status to a contender in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Moore’s Lady Rattlers are the four-time defending cross country champions. When she inherited the team in 2009, they were in the cellar of the MEAC.
“It has been rewarding to be at my dream job and to have some success. I have been blessed to have some amazing athletes to compete with this team and we have been fortunate enough to win the conference the last four years,” Moore said.
Leading the way for the Lady Rattlers is junior Judith Kibii. Kibii has won three consecutive Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Athlete of the Week honors so far this season. She looks to pace the Lady Rattlers in a run for a MEAC record fifth consecutive title. Kibii ran strong in the Mountain Dew Invitational hosted by the University of Florida Gators. In the crowded field, she was able to run 17:59.64 to place ninth in the very competitive field.
Fridah Limo has emerged as the most improved runner from last season. Currently, she sits in the second slot for FAMU. In this past weekend’s Bobby Lang Invitational, hosted by FAMU, she finished in 18:30.1, good for second place behind Kibii.
On the men’s side, the Rattlers are enjoying the expertise of Moore, who assumed her new position of director of track over the summer with the resignation of former men’s coach Marc Small. Moore is assisted by Harold Rose, Ben Wolf, Tiffiny Morrow and Stormie Charles.
“Rebuilding the men’s team will be a process much like rebuilding the women’s team was when I started at FAMU. We must set the standards of operation first and institute a system that will lead to success. With my educational background (Moore holds a doctorate in education) I only know one way to do it, and that’s to get a pattern of repetition and hard work. It begins with working hard in the classroom. Our guys have to remember student comes before athlete and it must stay that way in order to be successful,” Moore said.
In the Mountain Dew Invitational, the Rattlers as a team placed 11th in the collegiate division. They were led by sophomore Thomas Howell, who finished the 8K race in 29:52.29. He was trailed closely by teammates Jeremy Fritz (31:21.86) and James Oyetunji (32:01.64). The men also performed very well in the Bobby Lang Invitational last week.