October 1, 1998
Head coach Scott Irving will open the 1998 Florida State cross country season with one of his most talented teams in recent years. Senior Aaron Scheer returns as the top runner for the Seminoles and joins Michael Maier as the teams co-captains. Irving has also added depth with several young freshmen with an increased emphasis on recruiting.
“I made a conscious decision to recruit solely for mens distance and get away from the various responsibilities I had throughout the track and field program, said Irving. As a result, of our top 16 runners on the mens side, 10 are true or redshirt freshman with four of those in the top eight. So you will see a significant change.
Scheer, who transferred to Florida State from Nebraska a year ago, immediately took over as the teams No. 1 runner in his junior season. Scheer earned NCAA All-District III honors and recorded his first sub-25 minute 8K in a 20th place finish at the Oregon Invitational in 1997.
With the return of Scheer, who has shown improvement through track season, we have a solid number one to build from, said Irving. He showed incredible range last year on the track by running impressive times in both the and 1500m, 3K and 5K.
On Scheers heels will be senior Maier, a senior, who came to Tallahassee from Germany last year. Maier could have a breakthrough year and should make an impact in conference competition.
“Maier is improved,” said Irving. “He looks like he lost some weight. He had a good summers training in Germany and is excited to prove to himself and everyone else that he can run here and in the ACC. Even though he was a transfer from Germany a year ago, it was still somewhat of a freshman year for him. He had to get acclimated to the U.S. and adjust to some of the cultural changes. So he and Scheer obviously form the leading core of the group.
Running third and fourth at the preseason time trial were Brandon Spears and Brian Fleischmann. Spears came to FSU via Troy State and brings immediate experience to the team. Fleischmann, a former swimmer, is an accomplished triathlete and was the top American finisher at the World Junior Triathlon Championships at the end of the summer.
“The next two runners after Scheer and Maier are kind of a surprise,” said Irving. “Spears ran decently in the time trial and has become our number three runner. Last year, Don Gibb (FSUs head swimming coach) mentioned to me that he had a young man that might be able to help us. He came out in the trials, the first time I ever saw him run, and ended up fourth. Both of them look like they can run in the 25:30 8K range.
The next grouping of runners consist of three true freshmen who are a direct result of Irvings increased dedication to recruiting. David Stuart, Jorge Rivera and Tommy Kunish finished fifth through seventh in the time trial and could push the front leaders as they gain experience.
“Those three freshmen came in and showed that they had a lot of heart,” said Irving. “They have a chance to be very good before they leave here if they continue to work hard and dedicate themselves to cross country.
Other runners that have a chance to add their names to the mix are Josh Ware, Matt Umholtz and Zach Heissner. Ware is a sophomore who contributed last year while Umholtz and Heissner are two more impressive freshman on Irvings relatively young squad.
“We have a lot better depth this year than weve had in the past,” said Irving. “There is a lot more competition to the front end and I think that is going to make a big difference in terms of the way this team improves as the season progresses. At the time trial, every record was broken. I can project the times somewhat and we will have more people running in the 26s than weve ever had and we will have a better B team than weve ever had.
Irving thinks this team has a chance to be as good or better than the 1996 mens team that had one of the more successful seasons in his tenure.
“This is a better group now than when we beat Florida two years ago in Gainesville,” said Irving. “That’s significant because this is such a young team.
The increase in quality runners and the competition that comes along with it is something Irving has been trying to establish at Florida State. With Scheer and Maier penciled in at the top two spots and a talented host of young runners in the wings, a solid distance nucleus has now been established.