TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State cross country teams are headed to next week’s NCAA Championships, securing their spots among the top 31 women’s and men’s teams nationally automatically with runner-up finishes at Friday’s NCAA South Region Championships.
Florida State senior Colleen Quigley successfully defended her South Region title, covering the 5,875-meter course at Apalachee Regional Park in 19:17 – a new course record – pulling away from Tennessee’s Chelsea Blaase over the final 1,000 meters.
Quigley led a trio of Seminoles in the top seven – followed by seniors Pippa Woolven (fifth, 19:47.90) and Linden Hall (19:55.40) – in the 196-runner, 29-team field. The Seminoles, however, saw their streak of four consecutive region titles end by the narrowest of margins at the hands of Vanderbilt, 52-53.
“I was just sticking with [Blaase], letting her dictate what the pace would be like,” said Quigley, who has designs on improving on her sixth-place NCAA Championship finish in 2013. “I wanted to see how I felt. I figured at about three miles or 5K was where I needed to make my move. I know that hill really well and that I had a little bit left. I got to the 5K and felt really good…
“It’s happening at the right time with a week to go [before nationals]. That’s a good sign.”
Freshman Bridget Blake was 17th (20:20.60) and senior Chelsi Woodruff finished 23rd (20:25.50), earning All-Region honors along with their Seminole teammates, all of whom were disappointed to see their streak of region titles end.
Still, the Noles are headed back to the NCAA Championship meet for the ninth consecutive time, which ranks as one of the top 10 longest active streaks in the nation.
“I feel like we raced better as a team than we did at the ACC Championships,” said FSU coach Karen Harvey. “We had one hiccup in there and that was it.
“Colleen is rounding into form into time for NCAA’s and it will be exciting to see what she will do. Pippa has really been showing improvement and consistency and I’d love for her to finish well at NCAA’s. Chelsi Woodruff moved into our top five and really did all she could today.”
As streaks go, the Seminole men can now go to work on a new one after punching their ticket. A year ago coach Bob Braman saw a 10-year run of NCAA Championship appearances come to an end with a third-place South Region finish.
With Tyler Udland, Jack Goodwin and Zak Seddon showing the way at the front of a 160-runner, 22-team field, the Noles will be moving on to Terre Haute. FSU trailed only champion Ole Miss at the finish, separated by a 52-94 final margin.
Udland, a graduate student in his lone season of eligibility with the Noles, was the overall runner-up in 30:17.20 over the 9,981-meter course. Auburn’s Ty McCormack won in a course-record time of 30:08.30. Goodwin was sixth in 30:20.70, while Seddon came home 15th in 30:55.70. All three earned All-Region honors, which were presented to the top 25 finishers.
By finishing second, the Seminole avoided a nerve-wracking wait to see if they would be awarded one of 13 at-large berths, and they did it by holding off a hard charge by third-place Auburn, which finished with 106 points.
“It was definitely better than ACC’s,” said FSU coach Bob Braman, who was once again without the services of Glen Yarham, who is recovering from injury. “I feel like we competed really well.
“Mission accomplished. We didn’t have to wait for the at-large. We gut-checked a little bit, because Auburn was coming back on us pretty hard on that last loop. Mike [Hall] got about six-seven-eight spots on that last loop. Stanley [Linton] went from about 60th to 45th.”
Seminole freshman Michael Hall and redshirt sophomore Stanley Linton stepped up after the team’s fifth-place ACC Championships finish, placing 32rd (31:22.0) and 45th (31:39.10) to round out the scoring five.
“The race got out fast and Mike Hall just sat there and waited and ran a phenomenal race,” Braman said. “Zak wasn’t as good as at conference, but it was a gut-check and he had his highest finish and beat his best time on this course by four seconds from 2012.
“It was an easy race for Jack Goodwin and Tyler Udland. They looked like a million bucks, so that’s exciting because those are low sticks [at nationals].”
With Yarham projected to be back in the lineup for next Saturday’s race in Terre Haute, Ind., Braman is hopeful things are coming together at the right time for his squad:
“I felt like it was the right type of effort if we’re going to be top 20 or higher next week.”