Coach Moore Guides Cross-Country Team to Fourth Straight MEAC Title
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Coach Darlene Moore and her cross-country team completed what they are calling the first leg of a “triple crown.”
The Rattlers won the MEAC cross-country championship Saturday in Dover, Del., clinching the title for a fourth consecutive season to become the first FAMU team to do so. The only other programs to win four consecutive titles were Delaware State and Coppin State.
Moore likened the cross-country race to the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of horse racing’s prestigious triple crown. The next two legs in the Rattlers’ case are the upcoming indoor season with the outdoor next spring capping the season.
“ Aiming to win all three titles is a goal that her athletes will use for motivation,” Moore said.
“We are on the first leg and we’ve got the horses for indoor and outdoor track,” she said. “That is going to be the main thing fueling us as we go forward with this triple crown.”
Last weekend’s cross-country victory was paced by senior Cynthia Chelelgo, whose time of 17:49.60, was good for the overall individual title. That also was a first for FAMU.
A day after Saturday’s victory, Moore was ecstatic over her team’s accomplishment.
“I’ve just been taking some time to myself to absorb what we have done,” she said during a telephone interview. “It’s still sinking in; did we actually do this. It seems sort of surreal, but it’s for real. It is a tremendous feat.”
Chelelgo also was named the best individual performer, while Moore also picked up a little bit of hardware herself with the honor of outstanding coach.
Moore also won the honor during last year’s outdoor season when she took the Rattlers to the conference title. Should the team attain its goal of winning the indoor this winter, it would be FAMU’s first in 16 seasons.
Winning the cross country title was one of Moore’s first goals after she took over the program seven seasons ago. She strategically began to rebuild the team, loading it with middle distance, distance and cross-country runners.
She used the same strategy to prepare for making the Rattlers contenders in the conference during the track season, moving them from a bottom-rung program to being outdoor champions.
A shot to repeat won’t come until next spring, but having won it once is plenty of motivation to make it two years in a row, Moore said.
“I don’t want them to think that we won this on a fluke last year,” she said. “We’ve got to show we are for real.”