Sept. 15, 2011
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For the first time since posting identical second-place finishes at the 2010 NCAA Cross Country Championships, Florida State coaches Bob Braman and Karen Harvey will send their front-line runners to the starting line at Friday’s Clemson Invitational.
“It’s always exciting to get your whole game squad out there and let them go on the course – the ACC course,” said Harvey, who has guided the women’s team to conference championships each of the past three seasons. “But we’ve got to be careful. We just trained real hard (Wednesday) morning too. They’ve got one day of recovery.”
Harvey’s women and Braman’s men, who claimed the school’s first ACC title last season, will be making their first visit to the Musser Farms Cross Country Course, where they will attempt to defend their titles at the 2011 ACC Championship on Oct. 29. Consider the meet more of an expedition than a competition.
“Our approach is similar to last year,” Braman explained. “We’re in a really, really hard training block, but we can’t really miss the opportunity to go see the course. I think last year was the first, that I can remember, that we got on the course beforehand.
“We kind of adjusted last year to go to the course and it benefitted us – we won for the first time.”
Last season both teams ran a dual meet against Boston University on the venerable Franklin Park course that played host to the 2010 ACC Championships; a trip which paid big dividends nearly two months down the road.
“We’re looking to do that again; to go out there and get a feel for the course,” Braman added. “We’re going to run hard, but controlled. It will be a progression run. We’ll go out slowly and form our pack and then we’ll try to be running hard at the end of the race.”
Harvey intends to take very much the same approach for the women.
“We have to pare back real hard what we’re going to let them do on this course,” Harvey said. “Yeah, I’ll probably let them loose at some point and let them have some fun with the course, but more than anything we’re going up there to check it out. We have to make sure that mentally and physically, before ACC’s, that we’re prepared for this particular course.
“Also, looking at the weather, we’re going to get a big break. It’s going to be really nice up there and not so nice down here.”
Because of their approach, neither team expects to be in the running for the team titles Friday evening. Still, in a field that includes just five of the 12 ACC teams, the experience could well provide the Seminoles with another edge. Host Clemson, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest will be in the field, along with a handful of other programs.
“Surprisingly the likely contenders for the title aren’t going,” said Braman, rattling off NC State, Virginia and North Carolina as potential threats to unseat the FSU men. “This is a brand new course for Clemson. It’s on some farmlad in Seneca. [Seeing the course] becomes even more important. This is going to be different. I’m excited about it.”
The Florida State men, No. 8 in this week’s USTFCCCA Division I National Cross Country Coaches’ Poll and No. 1 in the NCAA South Region rankings, will send four of its top six finishers from nationals to the starting line for the 8-kilometer race. All-American Mike Fout will lead the way, joined by veterans David Forrester, Wes Rickman and Jakub Zivec. Seth Proctor, who won the season-opening Covered Bridge Invitational, is a bit more seasoned than walk-ons Jacob Brooks, Marc Akbar and Sean Quinn, who are expected to round out the men’s lineup.
Harvey has significantly less returning experience on her roster from the 2010 runner-up squad, and is embracing the chance to use this meet as a teaching tool for her young-but-talented team.
“Every coach has a different approach, but I’m a really visual person and anyone that is visual, it helps to go run it and see it,” said Harvey. “We can talk about it in practice and say, `Hey ladies, when we’re doing these hills, this same hill is at Clemson. This is how you’re going to feel at the end of that race.’ I can visually bring them back to how they felt. …
“We’re going to use the same approach (as last season) and take the ACC’s very serious. It’s going to be tough because there are six ACC teams (ranked) in the top 30; the most of any conference in the country.”
The FSU women are ranked No. 6 nationally and No. 1 in the South Region. They will be led by junior All-American Jessica Parry, junior Amanda Winslow and senior Hannah Brooks; the latter two whom earned All-American honors in track last season. Included in Harvey’s top 10 runners in the 6-kilometer race are junior college All-American Violah Lagat, along with Kayleigh Tyerman, Colleen Quigley, Aubree Worden and Linden Hall, all of whom will be making their Seminole debuts. Redshirt freshman Chelsi Woodruff and junior Kaitlyn Iselborn round out the group.