TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Hurricane Matthew’s threat to Florida did not reach the Panhandle, but it did impact the annual FSU Cross Country Invitational. What would have been the largest event in the history of the meet, which began in 1972, has been substantially reduced from more than 3,000 runners at Apalachee Regional Park to approximately 1,000. Still, it won’t prevent the Seminoles from helping kick things off Friday morning, when the collegiate men’s 8000-meter race takes the starting gun at 7:40 a.m., followed by the women’s 5000-meter race at 8:20.
With FSU’s men and women headling field of 14 men’s teams and 16 women’s teams, the two-day affair is at hand.
“The FSU Cross Country Invitational is always one of my favortie meets of the year,” FSU men’s coach Bob Braman said. “Thousands of runners from middle school to college come and run on our wonderful course and it’s just a fun weekend.”
The Seminole men and women – at least the ones who competed at last week’s Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational – will use the meet as a training session in preparation for next week’s Wisconsin Invitational; one of the deepest and most important regular season events of the year nationally. Still, a host of younger Noles will chase personal-bests on a course that often yields outstanding results.
Visit Tallahassee, the tourism arm of Leon County, serves as the driving force behind the event which – despite the Matthew-impacted exodus of nearly half the originally scheduled field – is once again ready to put on a good show in partnership with FSU.
Following the morning collegiate races, middle schoolers will take center stage Friday at 5 p.m., followed by high school junior varsity runners at 6. But instead of an eight-race Saturday schedule, which gets underway at 7:40 a.m., four races will be contested in the de-facto Pre-State meet.
“Leon County and Florida State crews have worked tirelessly to pull this off, in spite of last-minute cancellations and also some additions,” Braman said. “For those that compete, they’re going to get a course in peak shape and we’re going to see some fast times.
“Competitively, we’re sandwiched between our two biggest regular season meets, but we’ll compete with our A-team and see if we can get some momentum for next week’s Wisconsin Invitational.”
There is no admission cost to see some of the finest teams both locally, throughout Florida, but also from Georgia and Alabama.
University/College Men (8k) 7:40 a.m.
University/College Women (5k) 8:20 a.m.
Packet Pick-Up & Course Review 11 a.m.- 4 p.m.
Middle School Girls (3k) 5:00 p.m.
Middle School Boys (3k) 5:30 p.m.
High School Boys Jr. Varsity (5k) 6:00 p.m.
High School Girls Jr. Varsity (5k) 6:30 p.m.
Boys High School Elite (5k) 7:40 a.m.
Girls High School Elite (5k) 8:05 a.m.
Boys High School Select (5k) 8:35 a.m.
Girls High School Select (5k) 9:00 a.m.
You can keep up to speed with the action via Twitter @FSUXC and check back at Seminoles.com for a complete recap of the action.