Emere, one of Angel's prize recruits this season, didn't disappoint in winning the triple jump at the MEAC Indoor Track and Field Championship. He leaped 15.58m (51-05.50) on his last jump to take the gold medal in the event.
The NCAA Division I track and Field Coaches Association voted Emere to the second team All-America Indoor Track and Field Team. While still injured, Emere went to the nationals, but was unable to put his best foot forward. Nonetheless, this honor is a tribute to the work ethic and skills of Emere.
"I am very proud and happy for Steve. He has proven himself on the MEAC level as well as the national Division I level. Being an All-American is a very prestigious honor and a difficult one to attain. The certification is one not easy to come by, as the last All-American to wear orange and green was Kevin Hicks in 2005," Angel said.
Emere had already qualified for the NCAA national championship, but certainly wanted to add the MEAC championship to his mantle. While he has the best leap in the conference all year, a nagging leg injury hampered him leading up to the MEAC championship.
"My progress this year has been much greater than I expected it to be. I wasn't sure what kind of jump coach I would have here at FAMU, so I was a little hesitant coming here. But, after the season began to progress, I realized that my coach knows what he's talking about. I took that as motivation and ran with it," Emere said.
Emere, a transfer from South Plains junior college in Texas, won the triple jump and 55m hurdles at the Ed Temple Classic, hosted by Tennessee State in January. That feat earned him MEAC athlete of the week honors as well as catapulted him to the longest triple jump in the nation in all divisions. His mark of 52-06 ft. (16.00m) in the triple jump event, qualified him for the NCAAs.
The feat of winning the indoor triple jump championship did not come without its struggles. The nagging leg injury bottled his distance for his preliminary jumps. Going into the last jump, Emere trailed the University of Maryland Eastern Shore's Owen Cain, who was leading with a lead of 15.29m (50-02.00). Emere made adjustments with the FAMU athletic trainer, including ditching the brace he wore during the event, and prepared for his final jump...his final opportunity to win gold.
Emere said the injury hampered his mental preparation for competition. "I tweaked my hamstring about three weeks before the conference championship, so I was kind of scared and didn't really want to run full speed because I felt it. That was scary. When I got to the last jump, I told myself I've got to put it all on the line. If I get hurt, I get hurt," Emere said.
A premature celebration by Cain was one of the biggest motivators for Emere on his last jump. "Sadly, to hear he started celebrating. I had been jumping from a near mark in order not to injure myself. I was jumping from a seven-step mark. Coach Angel told me at that point that if I hadn't injured myself yet, then I should just go for it from my normal mark, which was fourteen steps. From that mark, I jumped nearly two feet farther than anybody else," Emere said. He captured the title and some precious points for the Rattlers.
Angel is excited to have been able to bring Emere aboard. "Anytime you can keep the tradition of the jumps going, coming on the heels of success by Leon Hunt, it's just a great thing for FAMU and its exciting for Steve as we go into the postseason. I look for him to do some great things in the national title chase," Angel said.
Angel is no stranger to Emere's abilities. "When I recruited him I thought he would do this well out of the box. I recruited him out of high school when I was the coach at Illinois. We are fortunate to have him here. He is a double threat as a hurdler as well. He is the main reason FAMU has been ranked as a team in the NCAA South Region," Angel added.