Nov. 18, 2007
Tallahassee, Fla. – Still rolling off stellar performances at NCAA South Regionals, the men’s and women’s cross country teams of Florida State head back to Terre Haute, Ind. this weekend to wrap up the season at the NCAA Championships.
Thirty-one teams from around the nation will convene at Indiana State University Monday for the men’s 10k race at approximately 12:00 pm EST and the women’s 6k race at approximately 12:55 pm EST. Both races will take place on the LaVern Gibson Championship Golf Course and will be broadcast live on CSTV.com.
“In some people’s eyes, the women really have a chance to win the whole thing,” said head coach Bob Braman. “I think Coach [Karen] Harvey’s got them ready to do that. We just have to do our best and get ourselves in the position to win, in the end that’s all you can do in cross country. You can’t affect the performance of other teams like you can in other sports, this sport is all about taking care of what you can do.”
Following their first place performance at NCAA South Regionals last Saturday, the Seminole women head climbed to No. 2 in the nation–their highest ranking to date. The team was also honored for its regional accomplishments this week as assistant coach Karen Harvey and sophomore Susan Kuijken were honored as South Region Coach and Athlete of the Year respectively.
Kuijken, an All-America, All-ACC and All-Region honoree, has yet to lose a race this season and with another first-place finish this Monday would become the first Seminole in school history to go wire-to-wire undefeated. Seniors Barbara Parker, Debbie Huss, Kirsten Hagen and Audrey Hand will all close out their impressive careers at Florida State in Terre Haute with the team’s final race of the season. All four finished in the top 25 at South Regionals as the Seminoles set a school record with seven All-Region qualifiers in the women’s race.
Florida State’s men enter the competition at No. 23, back in the top 30 for the first time since early October. The team made a late-season rebound at South Regionals in Gainesville, Fla. to take second place over the No. 24 ranked Florida Gators. The comeback was largely attributable to the return of senior Luke Gunn who suffered a minor injury at the Notre Dame Invitational in September. Gunn and fellow senior Mark Buckingham both placed in the regional top 10 along with junior transfer Steeve Gabart.
“If we run as close to Alabama as we did in the regional meet, we’ll be a top 15 team,” said Braman. “I think this team compares favorably to both Alabama and Florida. and we certainly would like to get a top 20 finish. The highest anyone in the South Region has ever finished was the 17th place we put out there in 2004, so maybe we can sneak by and beat Alabama and get that top 15 ranking.”
Florida State’s women’s squad first appeared in the national race in 2002 and will be making their fourth appearance on Monday. Their highest finish to date was a 455-point 18th place result in 2003.
Including their first and most successful run at nationals in 1981, the men have competed in the event five times. Their best finish came in that first ’81 race as they came in eighth with a team total of 257 points.
Neither team has ever won the NCAA Championships.