April 2, 2004
Tallahassee, FL – The story of the Florida State men’s cross country squad has been leadership and teamwork. Two leaders, junior Joep Tigchelaar and sophomore Kevin Cook, guided a young and talented team towards fourth-year head coach Bob Braman’s goal of building one of the top programs in the nation. Tigchelaar represented the present and continued future, while Cook symbolized the program’s definite and immediate future. The duo helped the team jump into the national spotlight for the first time in 22 years. FSU ended the season at the NCAA Cross Country championships and as one of the top 30 programs in the nation.
If starting off right constituted winning the first meet and placing two runners in the top five, then FSU was the textbook example. The Seminoles posted a 37-point win led by Cook who finished third, one second ahead of fourth-place finisher Eddy Rodriguez, one of the new additions to the team.
The Florida Intercollegiate Championships, hosted by Florida State, was the only home meet of the season. Cook continued to lead the newcomers by winning the event and helping the team to its second, first-place finish of the season. The Noles bested fellow South Region opponent Georgia by three points to take the tightly-contested title. Cook won the 8K event in a time of 24:51.48. Junior transfer Ian Hornabrook crossed the tape in fourth for FSU in 25:11.55, followed by fellow juniors Jim Van Veen (25:37.38) and Nate Davis (26:24.23).
The next meet, the prestigeous Great American Cross Country Festival, was a big test for FSU, considering the men faced six ranked opponents – No. 3 Arizona, No. 7 Central Michigan, No. 11 Ohio State, No. 12 Michigan, No. 16 Villanova and No. 22 (and fellow ACC school) N.C. State. Tigchelaar began his emergence, finishing first for the Tribe and 16th overall, completing the 8K course in 26:14.30 followed by Hornabrook in 46th place in 26:49.2. Working as a team, Cook (27:07.01), Rodriguez (27:08.20) and freshman Luke Beevor finished 58th, 59th and 60th, respectively. Beevor crossed the mark, less than a minute behind Rodriguez, scoring points in his first race of the season.
From that point on, Beevor became a strong candidate for FSU’s freshman of the year. After sitting out the FLRunners.com and Disney Invitationals, Beevor competed in the NCAA Pre-Nationals meet. The NCAA Pre-Nationals is consistently one of the biggest meets of the year for the Noles. The race allows the Tribe to preview the national championship course and the competition as well as earn points toward an at-large bid. At the meet, FSU finished ninth overall and first among four ACC schools with six of seven runners setting personal-best marks. Tigchelaar finished 27th, 90 spots higher than last year’s 117th place. Beevor again stepped up, completing the course in 24:37 for 66th place. Cook (24:39, 70th), Rodriguez (24:44, 79th) and freshman Tom Lancashire (25:23, 208th) scored points as well. Lancashire, a newcomer from Bolton, England, showed why he is the second fastest all-time 18U runner in England.
At the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, the Noles drubbed their prior top showing of fifth with a runner up finish to perennial ACC powerhouse No. 17 N.C. State. Leading FSU’s run at a conference title was Tigchelaar, who finished fourth overall and Hornabrook, who ran a personal best time of 24:39.7 to place eighth, both winning All-ACC honors for their top 10 finishes. The Seminole men improved 57 points from last season’s finish and placed five runners in the top 25. Cook crossed the line in 14th place while Beevor helped his team the most with his 18th place finish boosting FSU to its highest ever conference finish.
Head coach Bob Braman was the 2003 recipient of the ACC Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year. He was awarded the honor after Florida State finished second at the conference championships – the highest since joining the ACC in 1992.
The next meet on the list was the NCAA South Regionals, which presented the perfect opportunity to prove to the nation that the Florida State cross country program was one to be reckoned with. Coming off an historical performance at ACCs, the Noles raced to second place with Tigchelaar again at the forefront. The Macharan, Netherlands native narrowly missed first place and regional athlete of the year honors, scoring .06 seconds behind overall champion, Georgia’s Simon Ngota. FSU finished second as a team, after being seeded No. 2 prior to the meet, to earn its first automatic bid to the NCAA National Championships in 22 years. Joining Tigchelaar on the All-South Region team were four other Tribe members – Hornabrook (30:44.84 – 11th), Cook (30:58.17 – 16th), Rodriguez (31:00.31 – 17th) and Beevor (31:02.16 – 18th).
The last and final stop of the year was the national championships hosted by the University of Iowa. In Cedar Falls, Iowa, the warm-weathered Noles were faced with temperatures around minus three degrees at race time. The Seminole men, competing against 30 of the top teams in the country, completed the race, finishing 29th overall ahead of conference foe Virginia. Tigchelaar was disqualified from the race for running outside of the course. Beevor, running with a hamstring injury, placed 100th overall and first for Florida State with a 10K course time of 31:04.8, two seconds off his season best time posted at the regional meet.