LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Florida State’s cross country teams enter Friday’s ACC Championships races with a handful of objectives.
The Seminole men and women want to improve on their respective fifth- and ninth-place finishes from a year ago and carry some momentum into the NCAA postseason, which begins in two weeks at the South Region Championships.
They will have an opportunity at accomplishing both goals over their respective 8,000- and 6,000-meter races around the autumn-colored E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park course – home to next month’s NCAA Championships – while facing formidable competition in the 15-team league.
Fourth-ranked Syracuse, hunting its fifth consecutive ACC men’s title, and No. 11 Virginia Tech are the teams to beat when the men’s race gets underway at 10 a.m. Defending champion and fifth-ranked NC State is heavily favored repeat in the women’s race, which is set for 11 a.m.
Both races will be streamed live on ACC Network Extra.
“You have two nationally elite teams in Syracuse and Virginia Tech, and you can plan or wish your way into trying to beat those teams, but that isn’t really what the big mission is about,” Florida State men’s coach Bob Braman said. “You don’t come here and try to hit a grand slam with a 28-ounce bat.
“We’re here trying to run well. We’re trending in the right direction. Workouts are going good, so everything that we’ve done indicates that we are ready for a good championship race…We need to compete well. The way I analyze is we could run really well and get up to third behind those top-10 teams, or you could come here, run well and only be fifth. It’s really about keeping the progression going and running with some pride.”
Senior Michael Hall and graduate students David Barney and Stanley Linton lead a group of Seminoles chasing All-ACC honors, which go to the top 21 finishers. Linton was 19th in 2015 at his last ACC Championships, while Hall was 33rd last season; two spots behind current sophomore Steven Cross. Barney, an All-Colonial performer last year at William & Mary, has been in FSU’s top three all season.
Hall and Linton are the only Noles with experience on the course, after competing here at the 2015 NCAA Championships.
FSU women’s coach Kelly Phillips’ 10-member squad includes only three with previous ACC Championships experience; none who have previously raced on the course.
Motivated a bit by their 10th-place pick in the ACC Coaches’ preseason poll, they have authored three wins this season behind a completely retooled lineup. Junior Militsa Mircheva is the ACC’s lone three-time race winner this season and leads the way, followed closely by freshman standout Jodie Judd and sophomore Megan Mooney, who as the team’s top returnee was 49th at the meet last season.
Phillips’ goals are simple.
“We really want to group up as a team – pack up – and set the stage for regionals,” she said. “We were ninth last year, so we can move up a few spots and put ourselves in good position. After the top three or four spots it’s really open and everybody is kind of the same.
“We need to get out, work as a team and push through the middle.”
Returning from the meet in good health is a priority for both teams, which have designs on top-two finishes at the South Region Championships, which would assure a return visit for next month’s NCAA Championships.
You can follow the Seminoles throughout the competition via Twitter @FSUXC. Live results, including in-race splits and scoring are available here: http://flashresults.com/2018_Meets/xc/ACC/index.htm.
Check back at Seminoles.com for a complete recap following the conclusion of the meet.