Sept. 19, 2001
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
The 2001 Florida State cross country team will embark on their season this Saturday, Sept. 22, when the Seminoles host their only home meet of the season, the Florida State Intercollegiate Championship. Over 20 universities and colleges from throughout the state of Florida will meet Saturday morning at the Miccosukee Canopy Road Greenway in Tallahassee to see who is the best in the state. The men race at 7:45 am and the women will compete at 8:25 am.
As the Florida State men’s and women’s cross country teams enter the 2001 season, second-year head coach Bob Braman has set lofty, yet attainable goals for his runners to achieve.
“Our goal this season is to have both the men and women qualify for the national championships,” stated Braman. “Our ultimate goal is to score points for FSU in the Sears’ Cup.”
Last season, the Lady Seminoles finished fifth at the NCAA South Region Championship after earning a No. 2 ranking in the region, their highest ever. The men finished ninth at the 2000 South Regional, improving six places from the year before.
With last season’s success, a strong core of returning runners, and an excellent recruiting class, it is by no means a stretch for coach Braman to believe his squad can attain these pre-season goals.
Returners: Senior Brooke Bastien leads a talented group of returners for the Lady Seminoles. Bastien, the team’s only senior, placed 14th overall at the ACC Championships and was the receipiant of the Golden ‘Nole Award. Her 2000 season highlight was earning NCAA All-South Region honors after placing 13th at the meet.
Katie Jeffrey will provide a solid foundation for the 2001 squad. The junior, who Braman says “has a knack of coming on big time late in the year,” is the first Lady Seminole to be named to the All-Region Cross Country team back-to-back years.
Sophomores Rachel Marsh and Beth Lukens round out the Lady ‘Noles top-returners. Marsh had an incredible summer workout and finished in the top-five in the pre-season time trials, while Lukens finished in the top-seven on several occasions last season.
Newcomers: Vicky Gill, a junior transfer from St. Andrew’s in Scotland where she attended school with Prince William, finished ninth in the United Kingdom Senior World Cross Country Trials as a 20-year old and is in a position to be the team’s elite runner. Most amazingly, Gill missed making the U.K. national team by two spots with less than three-years of cross country experience.
Freshman Natalie Hughes joins the Lady ‘Noles after a stellar prep career in Colorado. In high school, Hughes won a total of 13 state titles, including four cross country titles as well as titles in races ranging from 800-meters to two-miles.
“In my 19-years of coaching, I don’t think I’ve ever signed a more talented athlete than Natalie Hughes,” said Braman. “She’s an outstanding recruit who has run some amazing times in high altitudes.”
Allison Lind, a junior transfer from South Dakota State, had already made an impact for the Lady Seminoles, earning ACC Cross Country Performer of the Week following her sixth-place finish at the Appalachian State Invitational. Lind earned NCAA Division II All-America honors last year and finished as the runner-up at the 5,000-meter indoor championships.
Freshman Laura Melendez ran the two-mile race in high school under 11 minutes, and she won the FSU pre-season time trials. Fellow freshman Amanda Jordan joins the Lady Seminoles after winning nine state championships in Oklahoma, including four cross country titles.
“We got real close last year [qualifying for the NCAA Championships]”, said Braman of his Lady Seminoles. “To not go hurt. Being so close to qualifying last season should really help us this year to achieve our goal of going to the NCAA’s.”
Returners: The Seminoles return their top two runners from the 2000 season with juniors Dave Guerra and Nick Stuart. The duo placed either first or second in every race last season for FSU, and looks to set the pace for the Seminoles in 2001. Guerra was named team MVP after earning a spot on the NCAA All-South Region team following his 22nd-place finish in the 10K course. Guerra was the first ‘Nole to earn the honor since Aaron Scheer in 1998.
Stuart led the Seminoles in top finishes in all but two races last year and looks to continue his success in 2001. Stuart’s best race came at the Notre Dame Invitational where he placed second with a time of 26:08 over the 8300-meter course.
“The neat thing about Tommy is that he’s in the best shape of his life,” remarked Braman on senior leader. “He’s done real well in the pre-season, and he’s running the best of his life right now.”
Newcomers: An excellent group of newcomers have a great blend of talent and experience to solidify FSU in the upcoming years. Junior Zach Heisner returns to the Seminoles after taking a year absence, and was the top finisher for the ‘Noles in their 2001 opener at the Appalachian State Invitational to help lead FSU to a second-place finish. Heisner earned All-ACC honors in the steeplechase last season for the FSU track and field team.
Freshman Joep Tigchelaar joined FSU in January to compete on track and field team and Braman looks for him to make a big impact on the squad. Tigchlelaar won the Dutch 10K Championship and competed in the World Junior Track Championships last fall in Chile.
Kim Bergdahl, of Kokkola, Finland, joins the Seminoles as a junior transfer. Bergdahl joins the 2001 squad after winning the Finland Senior Championship in the steeplechase two years in a row. His time of 8:35 in the chase would have been fast enough to win the NCAA championship the last two years.
“Bergdahl is truly an elite, big-time recruit for us,” said Braman. “His cross country skills are outstanding. He’s as big of a distance recruit that FSU has had since Herb Wills in 1978.”
Freshmen Ryan Albertson and Andrew Bautel round out FSU’s top-recruits for 2001. In their senior years, Albertson was the 800-meter state champ and cross country runner-up and Bautel was the state runner-up in the mile and earned All-State honors in the mile and two-mile.
“We’re not a huge team with a lot numbers,” said Braman of his 2001 Seminoles. “But it’s a great mix of really good talent. We’ve got a variety of guys returning who have gotten better each year and are real quality guys. They’ve all gotten better and stronger and are ready to take the next step.”