Monroe asserts its presence on national stage

Monroe College women’s track and field finished in eighth place at last weekend’s 2018 NJCAA Indoor Track and Field National Championships in Lubbock, Texas. Despite having the smallest team at the meet and freshman Claudrice McKoy competing in six different events, the Mustangs managed to improve one place from last year’s finish.

Although Monroe is a four-year college, its athletic programs compete against two-year institutions. In recent years, some incredible international track talent has helped propel Monroe onto the national scene. Runners have moved on to prestigious four-year institutions such as Louisiana State University, the University of Oregon and Texas Tech University.

“I’m very happy with the way they produced,” said head coach Lesleigh Hogg, recently named Atlantic Region Coach of the Year for both men and women for the fourth consecutive year. “We have an extremely young team, and the vast majority of them are freshmen. They did very well. For them to be able to hold their composure and step up is very gratifying.”

Assistant coach Shirvon Greene, who received Atlantic Region honors as Assistant Coach of the Year, has developed relationships with coaches in the Caribbean and Africa, who notify Hogg and Greene about athletes they feel will fit into the Mustangs program. For young women leaving not only home but also their countries at 17 and 18, the college and the track program provide a supportive environment.

“They know we’re very good at developing athletes, so they’re not hesitant to send us a kid who they think under the proper supervision will become good,” said Hogg. “They feel secure about sending us kids.”

The standouts during indoor season were Dawnel Collymore from Trinidad and Tobago, named Atlantic Region Women’s Track Athlete of the Year, identical twins Lethabo and Malethabo Seema from South Africa and McKoy from Guyana, the defending CARIFTA Games champion in the 3,000 meters.

“If I was to give an MVP for this meet, it would have been Dawnel Collymore because of her versatility,” said Greene. “Although she wasn’t feeling 100 percent, she managed to make the podium.”

Greene also noted that McKoy, 17 and the youngest of the team, has great potential in the middle distances. In the fall, she was the top runner on the cross-country team. “The six events [last weekend] showed heart and courage,” he said.

Monroe’s outdoor season begins March 23.