TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – One day after earning top-ranked preseason standing in the NCAA South Region by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), the Florida State men’s and women’s cross country teams are among the top 30 in the preseason national rankings.
For the seventh consecutive season, FSU women’s coach Karen Harvey will send her team to the starting line for the first time with a top 10 preseason ranking. The Seminoles check in at No. 3 nationally in the USTFCCCA rankings, trailing only No. 1 Michigan and No. 2 Oregon.
Senior Colleen Quigley, who finished sixth at last year’s NCAA Championships, leads the Seminoles and is one of five returnees from a group which finished eighth as a team last season.
“We have a very good team this fall,” said Harvey, who begins her eighth season at the helm. “How good we will be will start coming into view in October. Until then our heads will be down and following our plan and the process.”
The chase for a national title appears wide open based on the preseason rankings, which saw Michigan collect six of 12 first-place votes on the strength of seven returnees from last year’s fourth-place NCAA team. Oregon (three votes), No. 4 Stanford (one), No. 5 Georgetown and No. 7 Arkansas (one) accounted for the remaining first-place tallies.
Beyond Quigley the ‘Noles will lean on seniors Linden Hall and Pippa Woolven, as well returning 2013 NCAA competitors Carly Thomas and Georgia Peel. Veteran Chelsi Woodruff and newcomers Bridget Blake and Chelsea Jarvis are among a group Harvey expects to push for key roles as the season progresses.
The Seminole women are one of six Atlantic Coast Conference teams ranked in the preseason top 30 and joined by Virginia (10), Syracuse (13), Boston College (17), Virginia Tech (21) and NC State (27). Only the Pac-12, with seven teams, is better represented in the preseason poll.
While the women are eager to return to a spot on the NCAA Championship podium, the Seminole men will open the 2014 season at No. 24 in the USTFCCCA preseason rankings. Junior Zak Seddon is the lone returnee from last year’s team, which came up short of qualifying for the NCAA Championships for an 11th consecutive season.
If the ‘Noles are going to return they will need big seasons from a trio of newcomers including junior Glen Yarham, who was injured last season, and transfers Tyler Udland (Princeton) and Jack Goodwin (Bedfordshire Univ.), who are graduate students.
FSU men’s coach Bob Braman is still looking for runners 5-7 to emerge from a pack which includes newcomers Michael Hall, Stanley Linton and Antony Taylor, in addition to Otniel Teixeira, Grant Nykaza, Bryce Kelley and Max del Monte.
The Seminole men are back in the rankings for the first time since midway through the injury-riddled 2013 season, when they saw their streak of 51 consecutive rankings come to an end.
“We don’t get too excited about pre-season polls but it’s nice to be back in the Top 25 again,” Braman said. “If we can stay healthy, I think this group has a chance to finish much higher than that ranking.”
Defending national champion Colorado received all 12 first-place votes to claim the No. 1 ranking, followed by Northern Arizona and Oregon. Florida State is one of five ACC men’s teams – tying the Pac-12 for top honors – to appear in the preseason poll. Defending ACC champion Syracuse (No. 8) leads the way, followed by Virginia (14), NC State (15) and North Carolina (20).
Both Seminole teams open the season Friday at the UVa Duals on the Panorama Farms course in Earlysville, Va. where the ACC Championships will be contested in October.