TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For the second time in as many races this cross country season, Florida State senior Harry Mulenga turned in an award-worthy performance. Mulenga had plenty of company among Seminoles competing at Friday’s Adidas XC Challenge, including a memorable collegiate debut by freshman Steven Cross. Instrumental in leading the Seminole men to the team title at the WakeMed Course in Cary, N.C., which will host the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships on Oct. 28, Mulenga and Cross swept the conference’s weekly honors, which were announced Tuesday.
Mulenga was named ACC Men’s Performer of the Week for the second time this season after posting a strong runner-up finish. The Chililabombwe, Zambia native made a late charge at Campbell’s Lawrence Kipkoech – the eventual champion and the USTFCCCA national performer of the week – to finish the 6000-meter race in 17:42.1; just three seconds shy of his second win in as many races.
“Harry is on a mission this season,” Florida State men’s coach Bob Braman said. “He had an amazing summer of training and it’s setting him up for a great season.”
Cross, the Florida high school star from Merritt Island, ran comfortably near the front the entire way to place sixth overall in 18:14.7. Not only was he third among Seminole runners – sandwich by FSU transfers Michael Callegari and Ibrahim Ahmed – but first among all freshmen in the field, which included nationally ranked Virginia and NC State.
That distinction led to Cross’ selection as the ACC Men’s Freshman Performer of the Week, and a sweep of the weekly honors by the FSU men.
“Steven is one of the most focused freshmen I’ve ever coached and it is paying dividends in his transition to collegiate big-time racing,” said Braman, who had been impressed by Cross’ practices and was eager to cut him loose on the course.
The FSU men placed four runners in the top seven and used a 16th-place finish by senior Grant Nykaza for a runaway win with just 34 points, with NC State and Virginia sharing a distant second with 66.
Odds & Ends
Despite the impressive performance, the Florida State men did not move up from No. 2 in this week’s USTFCCCA South Region rankings. The Noles continue to receive votes in USTFCCCA – they are 34th – in this week’s USTFCCCA national rankings…coach Kelly Phillips’ women’s team parlayed a strong third-place finish behind No. 5 NC State and North Carolina at the Adidas XC Challenge, to climb one spot to No. 5 in this week’s USTFCCCA South Region rankings…sophomore Carmela Cardama Baez, who began the year with a win at the Covered Bridge Open, was the runner-up in Cary to UNC’s Caroline Alcorta…freshman Megan Mooney was 15th overall and third among Seminoles – junior Bridget Blake was ninth – as the fourth collegiate freshman across the finish line at WakeMed…while the FSU men and women who raced in Cary are off until they head to the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational on Sept. 30, a group of 14 women will represent the Noles at Saturday’s Mountain Dew Invitational in Gainesville, Fla. The 5000-meter race over UF’s Mark Bostick Golf Course is set for 8 a.m.