Oct. 31, 2003
Ever since the fall of 2002, sophomore cross country runner Kevin Cook has grown into a fierce competitor and leader for the Florida State Seminoles. Last year, he helped anchor a young team that returns in 2003 with depth and a season’s worth of experience under their belts, ready to take on the conference and the nation.
“If I’m going to step up and lead the team (once Joep leaves), I need to win and run harder which are both things I think I can do this season,” said Cook.
Studying with veteran runners like two-time All-America, All-ACC honoree and National qualifier Joep Tigchelaar and senior Jim Van Veen, Cook has mapped out a season with the anticipation of an ending in Cedar Falls, Iowa at the NCAA Nationals meet, surrounded by those who push him to do his best – his teammates.
“Overall, we want to go to Nationals as a team. We picked up some big points at (at Pre-Nationals) but hopefully we can get an automatic bid. We’re meeting our goals so far because we are running pretty well,” said the Lyman High School product.
Up to now, the men have been successful entering the MONDO Men’s NCAA Division I Cross Country Poll with a No. 23 ranking for the first time in the history of the poll. The Garnet and Gold have earned a No. 2 seeding in the ACC and sit at No. 2 in the NCAA South Region standings. The bar didn’t stop there; Cook also set personal objectives to make sure he was a strong runner in the No. 2 position.
“This (season) I started out with a few goals – one being that I want to place a lot higher than I did last year and try to run with the leaders that I know I can run with,” said Cook.
The Fern Park, Fla. native has scored in the top five for FSU in 8 of 9 meets he’s run in during the past two years. He ran a personal collegiate best at the 2003 NCAA Pre-Nationals Meet with a time of 24:38.4 to help Florida State to a ninth place finish – second highest in school history. Cook won the Florida Intercollegiate Championships, FSU’s only home meet of the season and placed third overall at the Mountaineer Open. Cook turned in his strongest performance last season with a 35th overall finish at NCAA South Regionals. He credits his success to a tight knit cross country group.
“My teammates help me out a lot. If I have goals to reach or a bad workout, my team is usually there to help me through it – Jim and Joep, especially. I also push Jim in different races or through bad workouts a little because we’re good friends.” said Cook.
Overall, the Garnet and Gold men have defeated eight nationally ranked teams this season and posted two first place victories this season alongside an 11th place finish at the Great American Cross Country Festival. At Pre-Nationals, 6 of the 7 runners ran collegiate bests leading the way for the Noles history setting finish.
“Kevin has really taken a step up since last year. Now it’s a question of whether he can make it to the championship format and make himself the next leader when Joep leaves in a year from now,” said head coach Bob Braman.
This weekend, the men’s cross country team heads to the ACC Championships seeded in the No. 2 slot. The Tribe finished fifth last year, tying their highest finish since joining the ACC in 1991.
“Heading into the meet, I’m just looking to run really fast and place high. As a team, Florida State has never been in the top four. Hopefully we can do better. I think we have a good chance of winning it,” said Cook.
Looking beyond cross country and into the future, Cook has not declared a major but definitely has coaching in mind.
“I look at what (the coaches) do and I think what I will do later on. I know from watching my high school coach and what he does, you get a different perspective on running,” said Cook.
On a personal side, when Cook isn’t running, he plays the acoustic guitar.
“I play the guitar but I’m not that good. I usually just go online and get different tabs to play for different punk songs I like to listen to,” said Cook.