Oct. 11, 2001
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
By Bill Mayville, FSU Sports Information Department
As head coach of the University of South Florida program, Bob Braman earned Coach of the Year honors 14 times, produced six straight men’s team conference championships, and guided the men to national rankings in 10 of the last 12 seasons. Under these accomplishments Braman stepped out of the USF campus to rejuvenate the Seminoles cross country teams, a job which he has accomplished ahead of schedule.
In his first season with the Seminoles, Braman guided the Lady Seminoles to a fifth-place finish at the NCAA South Region Championship after earning a No. 2 ranking in the region, their highest ever. The men finished ninth at the 2000 South Regional, improving six places from the year before.
Last week the Seminoles men’s and women’s cross country teams were ranked 32nd and 31st respectively, and in September the women defeated the University of Florida for the first time in 17 years.
The men’s ranking was the highest for FSU since 1981, while the women haven’t seen rankings that high since 1984.
The change is being noticed outside of Tallahassee, as well. Two Seminole runners have earned conference honors, as juniors Allison Lind and Vicky Gill have already taken two of this year’s first four ACC Performer of the Week honors this season.
The commitment to rebuilding the program by Florida State Athletic Director Dave Hart and Associate Athletic Director Charlie Carr was a major factor in attracting Braman to the Seminoles.
“South Florida was my home and the only place I coached,” Braman explained. “I wanted to make sure the goals the administration had for cross country were the same I had.”
Braman also noted the success of individual runners as well as team accomplishments helps each year in recruiting.
“Hopefully potential recruits see what we are doing and say ‘Hey, they are really getting it done down there'”, Braman said. “They can look at Vicky and say ‘Hey, that could be me.’ Hopefully our team will go to the nationals, and that will be another card we can play in recruiting.”
A core of strong runners and good depth has been the key for the Tribe’s early success.
“Kim Bergdahl is a two-time National Champion from Finland in the steeplechase event, running a time that was seven seconds faster than the NCAA champion,” Braman notes. “Vicky and Allison have been very good for the women.”
The quick success isn’t especially shocking to Braman, who realizes that to be successful, you need athletes who train hard, and a little luck.
“I never limit them (our runners) in terms of what we can do, or how quickly we can be good” Braman said. “All we can do is be as good as we’re able to, train as hard as we can, and then hopefully be lucky.
“You train hard so you can get better, but you don’t want to train so hard you break down and get injured.”
This year’s young squad bodes well for the immediate future, with only one senior in Braman’s top 15 runners.
“We’ll return 14 of this year’s top 15 runners next year,” Braman noted. “It will give them another year to get used to my system, to get more family oriented, more committed to each other.”
Braman notes the team’s early success is really a bonus, considering ACC’s reputation as a tough conference for runners.
“The men are third ranked in the south region right now, and that’s the highest ever,” Braman said. “The women are number one ranked in the south region, and that’s the highest ever.
“The kids are having fun with it and working hard.”