Oct. 3, 2008
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. − The Florida State men’s and women’s cross country teams downed a combined 16 nationally-ranked teams in earning a pair of victories on Friday afternoon (Oct. 3) at the prestigious Notre Dame Invitational. The women took first with a pair of top 10 individual finishes to take down 11 ranked programs while the men placed two in the top 15 and bested five ranked squads.
The women’s squad posted 88 total points to finish first in the field of 23 teams while earning victories over No. 6 Princeton, No. 10 Illinois, No. 13 Providence, No. 14 Florida, and No. 15 Michigan as well as six other ranked teams, plus four more squads that received votes in this week’s USTFCCCA coaches’ poll. Individually, the Seminoles were paced by junior Susan Kuijken who set a personal best in the 5K with a time of 16:26 to finish in second place overall. North Carolina senior Brie Felnagle won the race with a time of 16:21.
In addition to the highly-ranked squads, the women downed ACC foes North Carolina (14th) and Boston College (19th) as well as the host Irish (11th).
Behind the efforts of Kuijken, Lesley Van Miert finished in seventh place with a time of 16:44; Lydia Willemse was 13th in 17:03; Pilar McShine finished 26th in a time of 17:13; while Linzi Snow’s time of 17:21 was 40th, Christina Woytalewicz’s 17:39 was good enough for 63rd, Kacey Gibson’s time of 17:48 placed 80th and Bree McAndle’s mark of 18:20 was 130th. There were 186 total runners in the field.
“Our top six ran really well; usually we can really count on our top 5 in every race, but today our top six were great,” women’s cross country head coach Karen Harvey said. “Lesley Van Miert had a great debut to finish in seventh place, and Susan Kujiken ran a real steady race to finish second. To be successful this season, we are going to need Lydia Willemse to step up for us and she certainly did that for us in this race. We are really happy about our performance today, but we also realize that the NCAA’s are a long way down the road and we are going to continue to work hard to be prepared for the extra distance (6K) when that time comes.”
The men were first as well, winning the team portion of the event with 81 points, beating 24 other teams; including 10 opponents that were either nationally-ranked or receiving votes in this week’s USTFCCCA coaches’ poll. The men were able to down league foe North Carolina (5th) and host Notre Dame (6th), who tied with in-state rival Florida.
Individually, senior Luke Gunn was phenomenal, running an 8K time of 23:35, which is a new Florida State school record. Gunn’s efforts netted him a fourth place finish in the race, as he beat Andrew Lemoncello’s time of 23:43 from the 2005 campaign to set the new school standard.
Behind Gunn was Matt Leeder, who ran his race in a time of 24:01 to finish 14th; Daniel Roberts in 18th with a time of 24:07; Steeve Gabart in 21st with a mark of 24:10 and Justin Harbor, who posted a time of 24:15 to finish 24th. Other finishers for FSU were: Mike Fout in 30th with a time of 24:22; Nick Sunseri in 59th place with a time of 24:41; Trey Andrews in 89th place with time of 25:00 and Jason Laknitz in 100th place with a time of 25:09. There were 200 total competitors in the men’s Blue Division race.
“We ran well, and we raced as a team today,” head men’s cross country coach Bob Braman commented. “This was the best team effort that I have seen up here at the Notre Dame Invitational from a Florida State team. I am real proud of Luke Gunn setting the Seminole 8K race time record and Mike Fout was impressive as well for his first time running a collegiate 8K race. Overall, this was a great effort and we are going to keep working hard to be ready for Pre-Nationals in two weeks.”
One of the nation’s premier races is up next for the men’s and women’s cross country teams when they head to the NCAA Pre-Nationals race on October 18 in Terre Haute, Ind. The meet, hosted by Indiana State University, is ran on the Lavern-Gibson Championship Cross Country Course, the site of this year’s National Championship race to be held on November 24.