Aug. 28, 2008
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State cross country teams will open the 2008 season this Friday at the Covered Bridge Open at Appalachian State University located in Boone, N.C. Florida State will compete against 11 other schools, one of which being ACC rival Clemson and another being Appalachian State, a top ten regional team. The women will begin the 5K race at 5:30 p.m. while the men begin their 8K run at 6 p.m. The Seminoles will look to continue their success at the Covered Bridge Open with an eighth-consecutive top-five finish.
On the men’s side, head coach Bob Braman will look to guide his team to another first place victory. “I expect anyone who is wearing the uniform to perform their best,” said Braman. FSU’s men’s cross country team took first last year with a score of 25 in the 8K race, beating host Appalachian State.
“We are excited about getting in uniform and getting out there. Any first competition is big, but the chance to get up to the mountains and get some training with a little bit of altitude is great,” said Braman. “This is really a fun time for us. It gives us a chance to get the cobwebs out from the long hot summer and prepare for the season.”
Leading the men this year is Matt Leeder (Brockville, Ontario), who last year was just a fraction away from taking the top spot as former Seminole Mark Buckingham placed first in the race. Along with Leeder, Florida State will return junior Daniel Roberts (Vicksburg, Miss.) who placed in the top ten at last year’s meet, senior Luke Gunn (Forest Gate, England), junior Trey Andrews (Titusville, Fla.) and senior Steeve Gabart (Miami, Fla.). Freshmen Mike Flout will also look to make his debut as a Seminole in his first race as a collegiate-athlete.
“It’s that time of year that we have injuries and people not being able to compete. We do have a few people injured but not anything unusual,” Braman said. “We want to come out of this competition healthy and taking the next step in our training and preparation.”
On the women’s front, junior All-America Susan Kuijken (Negmejor, Netherlands) will take the leadership role as she took first place at last year’s meet with a time of 18:00.03, 18 seconds ahead of the next runner. The Seminoles will look to their other veterans to finish in the top three this year: sophomore Pilar McShine (Success, Trinidad & Tobago), junior Christina Woytalewicz (Brandon, Fla.) and senior Lydia Willemse (Forest, Ontario).
“This is a good time for the team to get back together and not just run the race, but also set team goals,” said women’s head coach Karen Harvey. “As a team, we will use this race to work on pack running. Although this is just the starting point for our team, I am looking forward to the finish.”
Although this meet will not go down in the books due to NCAA rules, this will serve as a preparation for the team and newcomers to get ready, in shape and see how well they blend as a team.
“Speaking as a coach who has been doing this for many years, this is exciting because it’s the kickoff of my favorite season which is the fall,” said Braman.