With its highest ever national ranking (No. 2), the women’s track and field team at Monroe College is preparing for the upcoming NJCAA Indoor Championships, intent to succeed. Indoor season has seen strong performances from multiple Mustangs, including freshmen middle distance runners Faten Laribi, Sharon Chumo and Joanna Archer.

“So far, indoor season is going even a little bit better than we had expected,” said head coach Lesleigh Hogg. “We have a really good freshman class and they are doing what they came here to do.”

Although Monroe is a four-year college, the athletic program is for first- and second-year students, and the school competes in Division I of the National Junior College Athletic Association. Hogg is pleased that the members of both the women’s and men’s track and field teams have been excelling on the field and in the classroom.

“They are geared into wanting to achieve and make the college stand out,” said Hogg. “Every time they step on the track, they’re looking to do better and prove themselves.”

It has been a crucial time for sophomores Avon Samuels and Claudrice McKoy, both from Guyana, who have been awaiting word from four-year colleges. It was recently announced that Samuels will be joining the track team at St. John’s University in the fall. A sprinter who excels at the 400 meters, Samuels is excited at the prospect of working with Red Storm sprints coach Aliann Pompey, a four-time Olympian from Guyana, who ran the 400.

“It’s really exciting for me because I know Aliann Pompey’s background and I trust her,” said Samuels, a business administration major who hopes to improve her time this indoor season. “Since I’m at Monroe, the college has offered me a lot of opportunities and the training is very, very good. We train every day and it has helped me to get strong and prepare me for a school like St. John’s.”

Monroe’s track team is very international, with more than six countries represented on the women’s team. Hogg said there is a spirit of understanding and also of learning as they share traditions and cultures.

“Me, as Guyanese, I tend to learn those different cultural backgrounds,” said Samuels. “It is interesting, but we can’t cook [traditional food] for each other because we eat in the cafeteria.”