Nov. 21, 2003
Tallahassee, Fla. – For the first time in school history, the Florida State men’s and women’s cross country teams will go to the NCAA National Championships. Both teams earned an automatic bid after placing second in the South Regional Championship hosted by Auburn University on November 15. The men’s team finished behind the University of Georgia with 64 points with five of the Seminole men finishing in the top 20. The women’s team crossed the line just behind the University of Tennessee. A first place finish by senior Vicky Gill fueled their 93-point effort.
Gill has torched the cross country scene in the three seasons she’s donned the Garnet and Gold. Arguably the best female cross country runner in Florida State history, she became the first Seminole women’s cross country member to achieve All-American status when she finished 15th overall at the 2002 NCAA National Championships. Her fifteenth place finish was the highest for any Seminole at a national championship. Among Gill’s other honors are two-time NCAA South Region Athlete of the Year, three-time All-ACC honoree and three-time All-South Region performer. In addition to winning back-to-back NCAA South Region Championships, Gill won the 2002 NCAA Pre-Nationals meet. The Lancashire, England native earned her final year of eligibility back twelve minutes before the Great American Cross Country Festival Meet where she finished second overall. Gill owns five of the top ten all-time 6K finishes in FSU history, the most by any current or former Nole.
Junior Joep Tigchelaar has led the men’s surge finishing second overall and crossing the tape first for the Tribe in four of five meets this season. Tigchelaar has been a strong force for FSU since his freshman year. One of only two Noles from last year’s top seven still running this year, he has set the pace for FSU runners this season. This year he was awarded with his third All-ACC team honors and third NCAA All-South Region honors. In his sophomore season, he finished sixth overall at the ACC Championships meet, placed fifth in the NCAA South Regionals and earned a spot at nationals. He was named ACC Freshman of the Year in addition to earning a spot on the All-ACC team in 2001.
Both teams will be making their second championship appearance with the women earning a spot after last year’s second place South Region finish while the men will make first since 1981. That team was led by All-American Herb Wills aside Larry Greene and Doug Overfelt. Wills finished 16th overall in the NCAA National Championship meet while Greene finished 56th overall. After that season, six of eight guys were lost to graduation.
The NCAA Cross Country National Championships will be held at the Byrnes Park/Irv Warren Memorial Golf Course in Waterloo, Iowa. The top two teams from all nine regions earn automatic bids with 13 teams selected at large in addition to 38 individuals to round out the 255 competitors racing. Last year’s team champion was on the women’s side was BYU with UNC’s Shalane Flanagan winning the individual title. On the men’s side, Colorado’s Jorge Torres won the individual title and Stanford won as a team.
The Noles will race on Monday, November 24, 2003 with the men’s race kicking off at 11:00 a.m. and the women following at 12:15 a.m.