TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Four Florida State cross country runners, led by two-time All-ACC performer and 2016 NCAA Championships qualifier Carmela Cardama Baez, have been selected to the All-ACC Academic Cross Country teams. Cardama Baez and graduate student Catherine Blaney were named to the women’s team, while Steven Cross and Bryce Kelley were chosen to the men’s team, which was announced by ACC commissioner John Swofford on Thursday.
Cardama Baez, a sophomore, and Kelley, a redshirt junior, are repeat selections. Cross, a freshman, and Blaney a graduate transfer from USF, are first time honorees.
Since the inception of the All-ACC Academic recognition in 2005 Florida State’s cross country women have been recognized 45 times, while the men have claimed 29 honors.
“It’s nice to see when people work really hard and get recognized for it,” second-year FSU women’s coach Kelly Phillips said. “Often times in athletics you have a lot of athletes that work really hard, but for whatever reason aren’t in the limelight. Both Carmela and Catherine work really hard on the track and in the classroom and both have additional hurdles thrown at them. Carmela has a language barrier, being from Spain and Cat is in graduate school, yet they both excelled in everything they did this fall. I am really proud of them.”
Cardama Baez held down the top spot on the squad throughout the season, which she capped by earning her first trip to the NCAA Championships, where she placed 73rd. The Vigo, Spain native finished seventh at the ACC Championships and followed with a third-place finish at the NCAA South Region meet, each marking improvement from her standout 2015 freshman season.
The psychology major is equally impressive in the classroom, holding a 3.73 cumulative gpa.
In addition to collecting All-ACC Academic honors, Cardama Baez also earned USTFCCCA All-Academic honors on Thursday. It’s her second consecutive USTFCCCA award, which requires athletes not only exceed a 3.25 cumulative gpa, but that they all finish in the top 25 at their respective region championships.
USTFCCCA All-Academic Individual Honorees
Blaney, pursuing her graduate degree in public health, began the season as the Seminoles’ No. 4 runner and finished in the No. 2 spot at both the ACC and South Region Championships. The USF transfer from Ocala, Fla. has a 3.08 gpa as a postgraduate student.
The two women contributed to an outstanding academic semester for the Seminoles, who posted a team gpa of 3.36 to earn USTFCCCA All-Academic team honors for the seventh consecutive year and the 13th time in the program’s history.
USTFCCCA All-Academic Team Selections
Like Phillips, FSU men’s coach Bob Braman could not be happier for his two All-ACC Academic honorees.
“I’m extremely proud of Steven and Bryce,” Braman said. “Those two guys truly have their priorities in order and they’re also making noise at the ACC Championships. Academics and cross country are a tough combination. Each takes an incredible amount of time and effort.”
Kelley demonstrated his persistence, battling back from an early-season injury to finish as the Seminoles’ No. 6 runner at the ACC Championships, then improving to the No. 3 finisher at the NCAA South Region meet. A creative writing major, the Hope Valley, R.I. native has a cumulative 3.30 gpa.
Cross, who was a conference-leading, three-time ACC Freshman of the Week honoree in the fall, was the Seminoles’ No. 3 runner in four of six meets. He finished second on the team at the NCAA South Region, missing All-Region honors by one spot. A computer science major, the Merritt Island, Fla. native boasts a cumulative 3.29 gpa.