Aug. 31, 2004
Tallahassee – The Florida State men’s and women’s cross country teams will open the 2004 season on Friday, September 3, 2004 at the Mountaineer Open in Boone, N.C.
MEN’S CROSS COUNTRY PREVIEW
The 2004 season for the Florida State men’s cross country team should solidify fifth year head coach Bob Braman’s previous expectations. Braman is constructing a team that will compete against many national powerhouses and a program that will attract the world’s best amateur competitors. Two outstanding transfers and the Florida state high school champion step onto the course this fall for the Garnet and Gold with the spirit to rise to the top of the conference and amongst the best in the nation.
“Last season, I thought we were going to be pretty good,” said the 2004 Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Coach of the Year. “We had four extremely talented newcomers, a few top seven runners with limited experience and one of the greatest runners in FSU cross country history (Joep Tigchelaar). This season, I expect us to be one of the best programs in the conference and continue our rise to national prominence. A top 10-12 national finish is certainly reasonable.”
Braman has a good basis for his prediction – he returns one of two All-ACC honorees in the history of the program, four of five NCAA All-South Region honorees and all but one from a lineup that went to the NCAA National Championships for the first time in 22 seasons.
We have incredible depth this season,” said Braman. “Counting our transfers, we have five All-NCAA South Region honorees returning to the varsity lineup, many with faster times and more experience. We have a handful of student-athletes, all coming from high school programs with all-state honors or state championships, who are vying for the last few spots on the varsity team.”
Junior Kevin Cook will continue to lead the Seminoles through the cross country season while sophomores Luke Beevor and Tom Lancashire will look to build upon impressive freshman campaigns. Team captain Eddy Rodriguez and two-time NJCAA Ian Hornabrook bring a high-level of intercollegiate experience, after two seasons with other programs and one in the Garnet and Gold, as well as proven running merit – with both earning NCAA South Region honors and Hornabrook taking a spot on the All-ACC team during the 2003 season.
Not only will FSU utilize the regional recipients from the 2003 season, the Seminoles add junior transfer Sean Burris who earned south regional honors at USF and Andrew Lemoncello, the Scottish National Cross Country Champion.
“This season’s squad has no limits to what they can accomplish on the course,” continued Braman. “The true test will come at the NCAA Pre-Nationals, where we hope to make some noise on the national scene.”
“This year’s team may not have a single All-American, but we have 6-7 that can get pretty close,” said Braman. “To me, that’s quality depth.”
WOMEN”S CROSS COUNTRY PREVIEW
Fifth-year head coach Bob Braman will step into familiar territory – a team full of talent, a tough schedule and a new face to a tough conference. The 2004 Florida State cross country team starts the season with two veteran leaders in a group of highly-touted newcomers and competing among the best teams in the country, including two programs added to the ever-expanding Atlantic Coast Conference.
“For the women’s team, it is going to be a challenge,” said head coach Bob Braman. “We lost the best cross country runner in school history in Vicky Gill but return a solid core to build around. Our goal is still the same – compete at the conference meet, qualify for nationals at the regional meet and continue to strive for national prominence.”
At the top of the lineup, senior four-time All-American Natalie Hughes will step into the number one position, after three years of success in the two slot. Coming off a cross country season that saw the Grand Junction, Colo., native improve to 34th place at the 2003 NCAA National Championships, Hughes is expected to be a solid scorer in the top spot. Fellow classmate Anne Clinton, who developed into a varsity runner after starting in the Strider program, will help to balance the leadership among the incoming class of Seminoles. Clinton will look to move up from the middle of the lineup and join Hughes in the top two positions.
“This year’s group is similar to the same group I had five years ago when I first started at FSU,” said Braman. “We have five newcomers who were very successful on the high school level and that we expect to run in the top eight and score points.”
Junior Jenny Gomez was a big addition to the Tribe corps during the 2003 season, and should return in prime condition to continue to compete for Florida prime condition to continue to compete for Florida State. Gomez was instrumental in consecutive nationals trips for FSU, shaving close to a minute off of her personal best mark. Sophomore transfer Kara Newell and true sophomore Meredith Urban are expected to come in and help solidify the with experience on the intercollegiate level.
“Urban and Newell both had great track seasons and should provide immediate support in the top seven,” said Braman.
A talented group of newcomers enter the season with high hopes of continuing FSU’s streak of national championship appearances. Included in this group are highly-touted freshmen Laura Bowerman and Kirsten Hagan. Bowerman is the first Foot Locker finalist to sign with Braman and the Florida State program while Hagen was one of the top cross country runners in Virginia during the 2003 campaign.
Bowerman confirmed her reputation of being one of the top runners in the state by running a 17:42 in the 5K run at the USF/Jesuit Invitational. Despite a late-September injury during a workout, she came back to win her second consecutive Class 3A State Cross Country Championship, winning the 2004 meet by 28 seconds in a time of 18:07, setting a then-state course record. Hagen was ranked No. 1 for the majority of the season in the Virginia State Group AA competitors during the 2003 cross country season, finishing the year in fifth place at the VHSL Group AA Championships en route to all-state honors. Prior to the state race, Hagen took the VHSL Region III Cross Country title in 18:53. Competing in the Foot Locker Southeast Regional, Hagen placed 15th overall.
Amanda Hahn, Barbara Parker and Audrey Hand are also on the roster and expected to contribute to the national prominence of the program. Barbara Parker was the top senior steeplechaser in the United Kingdom and she is also a highly-touted 1500m runner. Parker’s steeplechase personal best would have been the second fastest time in the conference last season.
In the talented recruiting class are a group of high school runners who will make the shift to the intercollegiate competition. Audrey Hand was an integral piece at Kellam High School, helping her school to a Virginia Group AAA state runner-up finish. Hand placed fifth in the 1600m run in 5:06 during the indoor and outdoor seasons. Her 4x80m relay team took the title at the Virginia Group AAA State Championships meet. Cristen Litz was a late bloomer who ended the 2004 track and field campaign with Florida prep top ten times in both the mile and the two-mile. Litz ran 11:14 to finish 5th and earn all-state honors in the 3200m run.
“The three-time all-state track runner should emerge as a cross country runner over the course of the season,” said Braman. “Hand’s success on the high school level, coming from one of the top programs in the country, should allow her to make an easy transition to collegiate training.”
“We will depend on Hughes and Clinton to lead the group and let our depth and talent come through over the course of the season,” said Braman. “Bowerman and Hagen are impact runners but our success this fall may well depend upon how well Parker, Litz, Hand and Hahn run.
“Entering the 2004 season, the Seminoles not only face the challenge of life without its best competitor but also a new look in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Florida State, alongside the other schools in the league, welcome Miami and Virginia Tech to the ACC Championships. Both are viable programs that should challenge the already high level of competition in the conference. The ACC sent five schools to nationals in 2003, with FSU finishing 18th overall and third behind N.C. State and North Carolina. Duke and Wake Forest rounded out the group representing one of the top conferences in the nation.
“We train hard through the NCAA Pre-Nationals meet with the expectation of peaking at the end of the season – just in time for nationals,” said Braman. “If everyone runs well, we do well as a team. We just have to stay healthy and train hard in order to win. No team wins the national championship without health and hard work.”