Sept. 17, 2010
By ALEX PODLOGAR
FAYETTEVILLE, NC -James Williams doesn't want Fayetteville State just to run cross country anymore.
He wants the University to have a cross country program.
Those are two entirely different things.
As the Broncos prepare for the first of their four meets this season with an opening meet at UNC Pembroke at 9 a.m. Saturday, Williams is focusing on building the Broncos' runners into a program that can compete at the top of the CIAA.
"The biggest thing is the fact that we're going to be putting together a program at Fayetteville State," Williams said. "We're going to be turning heads and showing that Fayetteville State has some great runners that will compete and put up good times."
The Broncos will feature full teams this season capable of posting consistent team scores in meets, rather than relying on individual accolades. After the men's and women's teams each placed eighth in the conference meet last season, Williams is gunning for a lot more.
The Broncos will start the season at the 38th Annual UNC Pembroke Invitational, which will take place at Luther Britt Park in Lumberton. With as many as six competing, Williams feels like FSU have a clearer indication of the work it needs to put in and where the program still needs to go following the meet.
"Pembroke has an established cross country program, and they are a direction in which we'd like our program to head," Williams said. "We want to use their program as a measuring stick to see where our athletes are. It's a good opportunity to gauge ourselves."
The races will be 6 kilometers for women (about 4.2 miles) and 8 kilometers for men (about 5.3 miles), a change the CIAA coaches made in the offseason. Williams said the Broncos' men's team will likely be led by Britton Crum and Ernest Hawkins, while the women could potentially break the top 10 Saturday with Tamikka Portee. Keisha Edwards also figures to be in the mix for the Broncos' women.
So far, Williams likes the way his team runs.
"We have a lot of sprinting history in our program, so our progress may come late in races compared to a lot of traditional cross country teams," he said. "We've worked a lot of hills, too, and I think we'll have a stronger power level than a lot of teams."