The North Carolina A&T men’s cross country team solidified their dominance of the Robert Shumake HBCU Challenge on Saturday as they claimed their third straight HBCU Challenge title.
The men toppled over 15 teams in the 8k event and prevailed with a total of 47 points at WakeMed Soccer Park. The Aggies were followed by Hampton (70), Morehouse (76), Benedict (100) and Virginia Union (121) in the top-5.
N.C. A&T women’s cross country also had a solid showing on Saturday. The women placed second in the 5k event with 59 points behind Hampton who won the event with 37 points. Winston-Salem State (70), Morgan State (116) and Benedict (159) rounded out the top-5 on the women’s side.
The Aggies left little doubt about their willingness to claim the three-peat. Out of the more than 100 runners competing, the Aggies placed five runners in the top-15 individually. Leading the way for the Aggie men once again was senior Darren White. Outperforming his previous best time of 26:01 on the course, White placed fourth amongst the college competitors in 25:42.
Showing signs of recovery from an early-season injury, sophomore Hakeem Mustafaa was not far behind, landing sixth in 26:22. Freshman Mar’Quise McGee took ninth in 26:58 with freshman Dequan Maddox (27:33) and junior Corey Aiken (27:41) rounding things out with 13th and 15th place finishes respectively.
“I thought the men did well. Everybody did their job,” said Aggies distance coach Perry Cabean. “Darren ran with the frontrunners to give us a lighter point load. Hakeem is getting better and getting back to where he needs to be. Mar’Quise McGee is continuously getting better. I love it when a freshman steps up there as well.”
Speaking of freshman stepping up, freshman G’Jasmyne Butler paced the Aggie ladies with a second-place finish. Butler brought her personal-record down to 19:19 from 19:21. Next to cross for the team was junior Miranda Green who secured fifth in 19:39. Freshman Camille Martin landed in 11th with a 20:25 run. She was followed by junior Imani Coleman in 12th with a run of 20:39. The last Aggie to be counted was freshman Khadija Reid who finished in 22:07.
“Overall I’m very proud of the women and how they went out there,” said Cabean. “I’ve been telling them all week the two teams to look out for. I knew the two most challenging teams would be Hampton and Winston-Salem State. The biggest difference in years passed was that we just didn’t have enough good distance runners. I think our last runner earned about 90 points a couple years ago.”
Even though the first and second-place finishes for the men and women will hopefully give the teams a little momentum for the MEAC Cross Country Championships coming up at the end of the month, Cabean assures there is still work to be done.
“This is just a stepping stone,” said Cabean. “MEAC is flooded with talented athletes. This gives us a few ideas as what some of the competition looks like, but this in no means reflects the level of competition at MEAC.”
The Aggies have another two-week break before reconvening for the pre-conference meet at the Delaware State Invitational on October 15 in Smyrna, Del., the same location of the MEAC championships.