Aug. 31, 2012
BOONE, N.C. – The nationally-ranked Florida State men’s and women’s cross country teams turned in winning efforts Friday in the annual, season-opening Covered Bridge Invitational.
Sophomore Linden Hall and Jessica Butler provided the fourth-ranked Seminole women with a 1-2 finish as coach Karen Harvey’s scaled back squad rolled to a win over a field which included full squads from host Appalachian State, North Carolina, East Tennessee State and Norther Kentucky. The Seminoles placed four runners in the top 10 to outdistance the runner-up host Mountaineers, 38-46 for the team title.
The 10th-ranked Florida State men put four runners across the line in the first 11 positions to beat the field with a 35-point total. Appalachian State was second with 41 points. First-year Seminole Paul Lagno ran out of real estate with a closing kick which left him second overall in 25:15.2 over 8 kilometers. Senior Breandan O Neill and redshirt freshman Will Bridges were fourth and fifth in 25:23.9 and 25:25.6, respectively.
“I thought we did a pretty good job,” FSU men’s coach Bob Braman said. “It was hot. When the girls ran it was worse than the guys. … We did exactly what we tried to do: go out easy and lift a little in the end.”
With the temperature in the mid-80s – unseasonably warm for the North Carolina mountains – and the humidity up, the conditions were less than ideal for turning out impressive times in a season-opening venture.
The good news is the overall depth both teams demonstrated as both Harvey and Braman elected to put the majority of their most seasoned runners through a tempo run, rather than roll out their full squads. Veteran women’s standouts – seniors Amanda Winslow, Violah Lagat and Kayleigh Tyerman, and sophomores Colleen Quigley and Aubree Worden – provided moral support for their teammates on the course.
Hall, a native of Melbourne, Australia, posted the first collegiate victory of her career in 18:14.3 over the 5-kilometer course, edging Butler by .4 at the line. It was the Seminole debut for Butler, a graduate student who starred at the University of Tampa, with a year of eligibility remaining. Another first-year Seminole, freshman Carly Thomas, finished sixth overall in 18:44.8.
“I was thrilled to see a really improved Linden Hall race today,” Harvey said. “What a transformation from last fall. Our newcomers Jessica Butler and Carly Thomas competed hard and wore their FSU colors proudly”
Lagno, a graduate student comes to FSU after a distinguished career at Albany University, nearly pulled off the win in his debut. He came up less than two seconds shy of unattached runner Chris Moen (25:13.8) with a furious kick over the final 150 meters at the State Farm Course.
Like the women, Braman chose to put a group of runners through a tempo workout instead of the race. Senior Wes Rickman and junior Jakub Zivec – veterans of the last two NCAA teams – were joined by touted freshman Zak Seddon, sophomore AJ del Valle and freshman Chris Godwin in a support role after their workout.
Redshirt junior Josh Gracia, a transfer from Oklahoma, was 11th overall in his FSU debut (25:39.4), followed by senior All-American David Forrester (18th, 26:08.0) to round out the Seminole scorers. Junior Sean Quinn (20th, 26:14.5), redshirt freshman Daniel Millay (22nd, 26:16.2) and redshirt sophomore Michael Wallace (26:19.0) rounded out the FSU competitors.
Overall, Braman walked away from the lid-lifter quite pleased with what he had seen.
“We’ve got a little bit of depth,” Braman said. “We’ve got some pieces.”
Both teams will take advantage of the long Labor Day weekend and train in the cooler climate before returning home.