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Howard’s Cross Country Squad Sets the Tone With Strong Season Debut

Photo courtesy of Wxvymedia

Howard’s men’s and women’s cross country teams traveled to the Mount 5K Duals on Sept. 2 for their season opening 5k cross country meet hosted by Mount Saint Mary’s University. Both the men’s and women’s teams have high expectations coming into the season, as both finished as runner-up in the 2021 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Championships last year.

As for the women’s team, they picked up right where they left off, winning the meet overall with a final score of 44 points. Senior Melanie White was the meet’s overall top finisher with a time of 19:13.4. The top five finishers were rounded out by Howard senior Breanna Mcdonald finishing fourth with a time of 19:43.4. 

The rest of the team were also able to finish with top times, as freshman Jordyn Miller finished seventh with a time of 20:11.5, and sophomores Josylyn Crosby, and Camillle Egbula finished 15th and 17th respectively. 

When asked after the meet about the overall team effort and results, Senior Melanie seemed pleased. “It seems that overall there is a fantastic effort. Everyone came back from the break in pretty good shape,” White told The Hilltop. “I see goal setting and growth, those are the markers of success. Excluding myself, the veteran, this is a young team, and with great maturity, confidence, and experience on their belts they will reach their goals.” 

On the men’s side, the team put up a spectacular performance, placing third overall with a final score of 81 points. Senior Ayoade Adebeyi led the way for the team, smashing his own former school record for a time of 15:56.4, taking nearly 20 seconds off of his previous best mark.

Also contributing to the total, a cavalry of underclassmen including sophomores Julian Lawson and Tafari Stephenson who finished 20th and 21st, freshman Lamar Wilson who finished close behind at 24th in his first action as a Bison, and sophomore Marsellis Davis who finished 30th overall. 

White and Adebeyi earned MEAC Runners of the Week for their strong performances, and set the tone for big things to come this season. When asked by The Hilltop what it means to be selected for this award, Melanie White said, “Eyes are on me now! The pressure is on. People have expectations for me now, so I want to set myself up to continue to perform well! I’ll continue to train hard and recover.”

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All eyes are on second year head coach Wesley Stephens after taking over the helm mid-season last year. When asked about the difference Stephens has made for the team, returner Tafari Stephenson told the Hilltop, “Now with going through a full summer session with coach Stephens’ full training program rather than the previous coach’s plan in spring 2022, I can definitely say I am excited for the team’s future,” said Stephenson. “The team seems more dedicated than ever, as everything is incredibly detailed and he makes sure we are focused. This team wants to be great and known across the NCAA and I believe coach Stephens could get us there.” 

The Bison travel to Annapolis, MD on Sept. 16 for the Navy Invitational, and look to make their mark against another round of stiff competition. 

Copy edited by Alana Matthew

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