XULA’s Gold Nuggets Qualify for NAIA National Championship
The Gold Nuggets’ relay team has run their way into a certified spot in the NAIA National Championship with the leadership of head coach, Joseph Moses. Yet, what most outsiders don’t see is the hard work the team puts in day and night: including, juggling school, jobs, a personal life, and being a part of such a successful sports team.
XULA women’s relay team has qualified for nationals in both, the 400 and 1,600-meter relays. The 1,600-meter team, which consist of Ry-Anne Riley, Tramaine Shannon, Clarke Allen, and Ariane Williams, automatically qualified for the NAIA national championship during the Emory Invitational. Their quick speed allowed them to finish the 1,600-meters in 3 minutes, 53.83 seconds, which punched them a ticket straight to the national competition. The 400-meter team, which consist of freshman Janelle Jones, Shannon, Allen, and Riley, qualified for nationals in early March.
The NAIA championship will stretch from May 25 – May 27 in Gulf Shores, Ala.
Moses, who is in his eighth year as head coach, referred to the women of the relay team as “very talented and hardworking.” Moses has led the track team, along with the cross country team to many victories. Some of these accomplishments include:
● Four GCAC team championships in women’s outdoor track and field
● Four GCAC individual women’s cross country championships
● Nine consecutive Gulf Coast Athletic Conference team championships in men’s cross country
● Nine consecutive GCAC team championships in women’s cross country.
Xavier also had its first CoSIDA Academic All-American while under Moses’ leadership.
There isn’t much preparation that takes place in the weeks and months leading up to a meet.
“It starts in the fall and goes through May,” said Moses. “Weight lifting, conditioning, intervals on the track, diet, and different types of flexibility goes into it.”
Healthy eating is a big aspect of getting ready for a meet. “Before a meet, you have to eat right,” said Williams. “Before a track meet, we eat a lot of carbs like pasta and we eat fruit. Anything healthy really.”
Injury prevention is something that has to be watched closely as well. In order to run a good race, there cannot be any tightness or injuries according to Allen.
“There may not be a lot of pain,” said Allen. “If there’s a little bit of pain, we still go see the trainer because we can’t be hurt going into the weekend.”
Athletes have to master the balancing act of school, maintaining a personal life and producing on the track. For some people, it may be difficult to just balance the first two, but the Gold Nuggets make a way.
“It’s constant going to tutoring at St. Joseph’s,” said Riley. “I also have excellent teammates who have been through the same things as me, and they help me every step of the way.”
An athlete must keep a 2.5 GPA in order to be eligible to participate in their events. That means that sacrifices and overtime has to be put in, even if it means taking your school work on the road while traveling to a track meet.
“You go to school, then you go to practice, then its straight books,” said Williams. “A lot of times, we have to take our books on the road because it’s something that we have to do in order to keep our grade, and without grades, we don’t run.”
Even for seniors who have been a part of the team for four years, it is still difficult. Shannon said that it doesn’t get any easier, especially with the work load Xavier gives.
“At Xavier it’s hard having such a work load,” said Shannon. “Since you have practice at a certain time, you have time to study and try to have a balanced day.”
Xavier starts practice in early September, and it stretches through May. The team spends Mondays working on conditioning and endurance. Every other day, they weight lift, and since they have to travel to all of their meets, the team hits the road on Fridays. When the team is practicing on the track, it is held at Harrell Park. When they are weight lifting, it is held at the Convocation Center
Track is a difficult sport that requires a lot of mental strength. Staying motivated is something that Coach Moses, along with the women of the team, try to do constantly. They motivate each other as well as themselves.
“I use certain motivational speeches for those young ladies,” said Moses. “I try to talk to them every day, and give them things to shoot for.” So, what’s the future of the team?
Williams thinks that the women’s relay team is going to do big things. “Nationals is something that we have always envisioned,” said Williams. “Maybe we can even go bigger than that.”
The team also wants the support of the Xavierites.
“I just want everyone to come out and support us,” said Allen. “That way they can see for themselves what we’re doing,” she said.