TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The missions were similar and so were the results.
With eyes on the quickly approaching postseason, the Florida State men’s and women’s cross country teams spent Friday morning at Apalachee Regional Park purposefully cruising to FSU Invitational team titles.
With Michael Hall, David Barney and Michael Callegari claiming third, fourth and fifth-place finishes, the Seminole men had no trouble authoring their fourth consecutive FSU Invitational title. Five Noles were among the first eight across the finish line in the 7,882-meter race, easily capturing top honors in the six-team Division I scoring column.
“I was really pleased with today’s race,” said FSU men’s coach Bob Braman, whose Noles finished with a meager 20 points. “We had a race plan that will set us up well for Wisconsin next week, and we executed it perfectly. I think we were actually a bit fast but we were able to keep our pack together anyway.”
Florida A&M’s David Too (24:15.6) claimed top individual honors as the other hometown team finished second with 62 points, edging Florida in a tie-breaker.
The Seminole women were turning in an equally dominating performance behind the 1-2 finish of junior Militsa Mircheva and freshman Jodie Judd. Stuffing five runners in the top 10 left FSU with a 24-point total, easily out-distancing runner-up Jacksonville (50). The Gators were third with 71 points.
“We had three different goals,” FSU women’s coach Kelly Phillips said. “We had a group coming out to race hard, a group that was trying to get on the ACC team and then a group that was using the race as a tempo run with a strong last mile to make sure we had a good final finish.
“I’m happy to announce they all followed their plan, which can sometimes be tough, because you’re watching some people go out really hard and you’re trying to hold yourself back. That’s not easy when you’re competitive. They all did a really nice job of sticking to the plan while having some fun and still getting some work done.”
Bouncing back from a sub-par performance last week at Notre Dame, Mircheva came cruising across the finish line in 17:45.2 at the end of 5,000 meters. It was her third win of the season in four starts.
Judd was second in 17:52, followed by junior Althea Hewitt (fifth, 18:04.4) and freshman Addi Coggins (sixth, 18:05.1). Forever Young was FSU’s fifth scorer, placing 10th (18:25.8).
The women’s depth was on display as six more Noles were among the 20; good enough to win the meet on their own.
Fatema Jaffer (12th, 18:28.1), Madison Harris (14th, 18:31.6), Megan Mooney (15th, 18:34.5), Mackenzie Landa (16th, 18:37.1), Elizabeth Jenkins (17th, 18:40.9) and Emily Edwards (18th, 18:41.6) came streaming across in an impressive swarm.
On the men’s side, Hall was FSU’s No. 1 runner for the first time in his career. The senior from Cincinnati, Ohio ran 24:32.1 for a comfortable margin in front of Barney (24:46.1) and Callegari (24:47.2).
Kelley (seventh, 24:49.7) and Szogi (eighth, 24:55.8) provided the final two scoring spots for the Noles, who stuffed four more inside the top 20 as well. Steven Cross (12th, 25:09.0), Ty Murray (15th, 25:24.7), Matt Magee (16th, 25:28.5) and Bert Freire (20th, 25:46.2) made up that group.
“Hall and Barney have run well every time they’ve worn the colors and today was no different,” Braman said. “Callegari and Kelley continued their progress from injuries and Isti and Cross are also getting better each week.”
More important than the outcome for the men was the flushing of a 16th-place team finish at Notre Dame last Friday.
“We really needed some momentum after Notre Dame and we definitely achieved that today,” Braman said.
The Seminoles will be turning their immediate attention to next Friday’s Nuttycombe Invitational at Wisconsin, featuring the deepest and most challenging fields of the season.