Aug. 29, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Buoyed by a pair of NCAA Championship runner-up finishes in 2010 and a strong core of proven performers, the Florida State men’s and women’s cross country teams open the 2011 season as the No. 1 NCAA South Region teams, as selected in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association (USTFCCCA) preseason poll.
Both Seminole teams head to Boone, N.C. for Friday’s season-opening Covered Bridge Invitational, hosted by Appalachian State.
“It’s nice to get the season started off with a No. 1 ranking in our Region,” said FSU women’s coach Karen Harvey. “We have a lot of newcomers and a lot of work ahead of us in order to repeat (and win) the South Region team title.”
Harvey will lean on her junior co-captains Jessica Parry and Amanda Winslow, both of whom have earned All-American honors in their careers, along with senior Hannah Brooks and junior transfer Violah Lagat, who finished third at the 2010 NJCAA Division I Cross Country Championships.
The FSU women will be looking to fill the void created by the graduation of All-Americans Pilar McShine and Pasca Cheruiyot, who helped the Seminoles notch back-to-back second-place finishes at the NCAA Championships. Help will likely come from Harvey’s highly-decorated signing class, which includes six newcomers.
FSU men’s coach Bob Bramanhopes his team can ride the momentum created by last year’s NCAA finish, which was not only the best in program history, but also the best by an Atlantic Coast Conference or Florida school.
“Any time that people recognize you for being a powerful program, that’s exciting and a real positive,” Braman said of the preseason ranking. “Like any sport, it’s August and nothing matters until November. I’m pleased but cautious.”
All-American and team co-captain Michael Fout leads a core group of returnees, including co-captain Wes Rickman, David Forrester, Seth Proctor and 2010 ACC Freshman of the Year Jakub Zivec. Heralded freshman newcomer A.J. del Valle heads a group of newcomers and returnees vying to fill the seven-man roster.
Men’s South Region Rankings
1. Florida State
8. Kennesaw State
9. Mississippi State
10. North Florida
Women’s South Region Rankings
1. Florida State
4. Mississippi State
9. North Florida