Double Victory: Morehouse Cross Country Team Wins SIAC Championship And Coach Willie Hill Wins Coach Of The YearDate Released: December 7, 2017
Morehouse Cross Country head coach Willie Hill thought the 2017 season would be a rebuilding season since he only had a few returning runners and a roster full of freshmen.
He was pleasantly surprised.
The Maroon Tigers recently wrapped up a season with some title wins. The team won their 22nd Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) title in 24 years, finished 10th in the NCAA Division II South Regional Championships, and had a runner competing in the NCAA Division II National Championship.
Hill was also named SIAC Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year for the sixth time in the last seven years.
“I’m very, very, very proud,” Hill said. “We really thought we were rebuilding. When we looked at everything, we saw that Albany State had more people returning than we did. We only had three people returning, and they had nine. We thought we needed to get some things together if we even had a chance of competing.
“But then the kids started making that commitment, getting up, getting their mileage in on their own,” he explained. “It’s just like they do their classroom work outside the classroom. It’s a formula that’s going to work.
“And it did because we had four freshmen that came through really big for the program. “That started us to change how we looked at the season.”
In October, the Maroon Tigers won the SIAC championship in Albany, Ga, finishing first with 42 points. It was their sixth title over the last seven years.
Six runners also finished in the top 10, with senior Trey Simons finishing first with a time of 25:17.97. Sophomore teammate Collins Kiplimo was third with a time of 26:08.69. Six men of Morehouse finished in the top 10.
Simons, Collins, and freshman Randy Carter Jr. (seventh with a time of 27:09.90) were named to the 2017 All-Conference Cross Country team.
Then, they qualified and competed in the NCAA Division II South Region Championships, with the Maroon Tigers finishing 10th. Simons finished fourth among 117 runners, putting into the NCAA Division II National Championships, where he competed two weeks ago.
Hill said the formula for his team’s success, not only this year, but every year, mirrors what all Morehouse students do to excel in the classroom—preparation.
“The students really have an understanding about how they must work in the classroom, and we use the same formula,” he said. “We give them a syllabus about training, just like they have in the classroom. And then the young man can take himself as far as he wants to take himself. If he wants to be a champion, then he understands about the work. If he wants to be a 4.0 student, he understands the work load. If you put in the work, you’re going to get out what you put in.
“What I like seeing is that these young men see that the hard work pays off and the commitment that Morehouse has promised them will give them the best an institution can give them. That’s the part that I really enjoy,” said Hill. “These young black men can see that you can achieve anything, if you prepare yourself right for it.”
Last Modified: December 7, 2017, 16:12 PM, by: Synera Shelton