Middle distance runner Aaliyah Moore Credit: Monroe College Athletics photo

Although the athletes of Monroe College in New Rochelle did not compete during the 2020-’21 academic year, some of them were on campus training. Head track and field coach Lesleigh Hogg said those who had been training were highly motivated to return to competition.

“They had to train in very small groups in order to maintain the COVID policies of the school,” said Hogg. “We’d take them outside. … They were very on top of it in terms of remaining safe. They got their vaccines as soon as they were available. They were really careful about not being in large groups. They stuck within their own little pod. … It didn’t take away from their motivation.”

Hogg said it was a rush of excitement for the coaches and the athletes as the indoor track and field season began last month. In addition to returning athletes, there are some talented freshmen, such as Tshwanelo Maruping, a distance runner from South Africa, and Aaliyah Moore, a middle distance runner from Guyana. The team, as always, is very international. This year, Chinenye Onuorah is the first track athlete from Thailand.

“We all learn about different countries,” said Hogg. “Aaliyah stands out in whatever she does because she is so purposeful about the way she trains. There’s nothing that gets in her way. It’s about her progressing both academically and athletically. She wants to be great about everything and that’s the way she carries herself. Nothing is going to deter her from reaching her goals. She’s an example for the women and men on the team.

“Tshwanelo runs the 1,500 and the 3,000 and maybe by outdoor season she’ll also do the 5,000,” he added.

The initial challenge at the start of the season was that some of the Mustangs had never competed indoors before and the coaches had to explain things the first couple of meets. “It’s having the coaches be aware that there are some little things that we have to work on…like the protocols of being indoors because they haven’t experienced that before,” said Hogg. “But it was so good to be back at a track meet.”

Hogg works mostly with the sprinters and associate head coach Shirvon Greene, who is the head coach for cross country, works with the middle distance and distance runners. “The energy that [the athletes] all have let’s me know how much we missed it,” said Hogg.

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