Throughout the course of a solid 2007 season the Grambling State University Cross Country team has been anticipating a shot at winning the Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship.With the SWAC Championship being held in Clinton, Miss. on last Monday, it was the time for the men and the women, to seize the opportunity is now.
“This is the big week,” head coach Carlos Robinson said. “And it’s the most important week so we’ve got to keep our heads on straight.”
Maintaining composure has not been a problem for the team this season. The men and women have finished in the top in every meet this year, so they will have to be prepared mentally for what the SWAC has to offer.
The men will had a definite challenge from two-time defending champion Prairie View A&M. led by one time football coach Clifton Gilliard.
The Panthers are in serious contention for the first three-peat in the school’s history.
Also, there is Alabama State University with sophomore Robert Gunn who finished 35th in the Auburn University Invitational on Oct. 10, a meet in which he finished ahead of runners from Florida, LSU and Auburn. Gunn leads a strong team that seems determined to win the SWAC.
The Women have defending Champion Alabama State to deal with. The Lady Hornets runners placed first, second and third in the SWAC Championships last year.
They also had five finishers in the top fifteen proving the team has depth.
“It’s going to be tough all around,” Robinson said. “No one is going to lay down and offer Grambling State University the SWAC title.”
The women have the talent to be a force. Senior Sha’tina Anderson along with sophomore Electine Orido. Anderson , last year’s SWAC Most Valuable Player, has set the tone for the team for the past couple of seasons.
“She’s an excellent student and an excellent athlete,” Assistant Coach Bertram Lovell said. ” Anderson is the leader of the team and with (Orido) you have a dynamic duo.”
Orido became more determined after her freshman year having to deal with a loss at the championships.
“Last year I was a freshman and I was kind of scared,” Urido said. “This year I know what to do and what not to do. This year we will be going aggressively.”
The men are based around a stable of talent that is poised to get the job done, including senior Kerone Fairweather, sophomore Brenton Flurry and junior Abdi Chepkwony.
“These guys help prepare the whole team,” Robinson said. “They show determination, they are not only completing the workouts but they are completing them efficiently and it shows that practice makes perfect.”
The level of competition in the SWAC has improved but the Tigers have the talent, the coaching, the determination and seem to be ready to seize the opportunity.