VERONA, Wisc. – Racing against 20 of the nation’s top 30 ranked teams, the Florida State men’s cross country team advanced their cause heading into the postseason with a 23rd-place finish at Friday’s Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational.
Led by senior Michael Hall’s 78th-place finish (24:34.0) in the 8,000-meter race, and a chase group of four runners separated by just 11 seconds, the Seminoles knocked off nationally ranked Illinois (No. 26), ACC rival Virginia (18) and host Wisconsin (28) in the field of 35 teams.
“I thought we competed out tails off,” FSU men’s coach Bob Braman said. “Maybe we didn’t get that big sexy finish, but I’m real pleased with it. We definitely stepped forward and definitely showed we’re going in the right direction.”
“I feel good about sizing up the people we’ve got to beat [in the postseason].”
Hall was the Seminoles’ top finisher for the second consecutive meet, mowing down 22 runners over the final 2,000 meters, crushing that distance in 5:47.
“Mike has become a real good cross country, which was his mission this year,” Braman said. “When you come out of a field like this and you place in the 70s, you’ve had a good day. There were some points in the race where he really had a chance at a much higher finish, but he’s still learning it. He’s still learning that the super intense pain goes on for a long time and not just one or two laps. I’m real pleased with him. He runs within himself and he runs smart.”
David Barney was running in the top 60 at the halfway point, but faded in the final stretch at the Zimmer Championship Course. He was eventually caught by Stanley Linton, and the two finished side-by-side, with Linton 115th (24:52.7) and Barney 116th (24:52.8). Michael Callegari (130th, 24:56.5) and Steven Cross (149th, 25:03.3) closed out the Seminole scorers, with Istvan Szogi finishing 171st (25:13.2).
“David Barney had a great, great race going and just tightened up – got a stitch or something – and was afraid he was going to go out the back [of the pack],” Braman explained. “He was just in management mode and it cost him a lot of spots. He responded and got it going again and chased Stan in.”
Braman was most encouraged by the improved performances of Callegari and Cross, who have been battling ailments.
“Everybody is moving forward,” said Braman, whose team now turns its attention to the ACC Championships in two weeks.
While the men’s team was making strides, coach Kelly Phillips’ women hit their first bump of the season, placing 28th out of 33 teams.
The Noles were once again led by junior Militsa Mircheva (70th, 20:56.8) and freshman Jodie Judd (72nd, 20:58.3), but didn’t get their third runner – sophomore Megan Mooney – home until the 149th position. Mooney ran 21:41.9 for the 6,000-meter race on a day when the field which included 16 of the nation’s top 30 teams was extraordinarily fast.
“No excuses, we just didn’t race well today,” Phillips said. “We have two weeks to regroup and get better. They will be fine. They know they are better than that.”
Mircheva and Mooney paid dearly for slow starts as they were forced to push their way through a field of 225 runners. The Noles were also short-handed as freshman Addi Coggins was a pre-race scratch for precautionary reasons.
Sarah Candiano (180th, 22:07.8), Emily Edwards (182nd, 22:08.7) and Althea Hewitt (191st, 22:15.9) rounded out the finishers.
In the collegiate men’s open race, redshirt sophomore Tyson Murray, competing individually, finished 61st (26:00.6).
Young strong for women at Crimson Classic
Junior Forever Young continued her breakout campaign Friday at the Crimson Classic, placing 55th overall to lead all FSU women in the 6,000-meter race at the Harry Pritchett Running Course, site of the NCAA South Region meet.
Young shaved 36 seconds of her previous 6k-best – set earlier this season at the Virginia Tech Alumni Invitational – finishing in 21:52.6 to virtually assure a place on the Seminoles’ ACC Championships roster.
Junior Fatema Jaffer (66th, 21:59.6), sophomore Maudie Skyring (80th, 22:13.0), freshmen Jennifer Lima (121st, 22:47.1), Micaela Torres (132nd, 22:56.7) and Elizabeth Jenkins (133rd, 22:59.1), and senior Bella Poole (135th, 23:00.7) followed in support.
The Seminoles finished 15th overall in the field of 31 teams, competing well against some of the top teams in the South Region, despite the fact that they were fielding a split squad.
Competing individually in the men’s 8,000-meter race, Matt Magee was FSU’s top finisher (84th, 26:07.2), followed by Bert Freire (110th, 26:28.6) and Thomas Hogarty (136th, 26:53.3).