You might want to tighten the laces on your favorite pair of cross country spikes because I’ve been tasked with documenting the men’s cross country season in this (hopefully) recurring feature. I can’t quite tell you how I duped the powers that be into trusting me with this, but as long as you keep seeing these articles it means this fifth-year senior hasn’t been shut down yet. So for the time being, Seminole fans will be seeing more of my ugly mug plastered above these articles.
Anyway, self-deprecation aside, the boys are back in town. No, we’re not in Tallahassee, but our home away from home in Boone, North Carolina. Why Boone of all places? Well besides being home to Appalachian State University, or as they might prefer to be called, “The Football Team That Upset Michigan in 2007”, it also has some of the most extensive and well maintained trail systems east of the Mississippi.
I think I can speak for the team as a whole when I say that the trails only slightly outweigh the absurd amount of fast food and barbeque restaurants here. So as you can see, we really do have everything we need up here in the mountains to get in great training in before the season really ramps up; lots of running, altitude, and enough artery-clogging primo food joints to make us question if our days of being skinny are numbered. We come here year after year – you could say it’s becoming almost as much a tradition for our team as the ‘Noles football team lifting up a gator head every November.
I can tell already though that if I begin to start droning on about our daily runs in August, I’ll have lost the few readers I have by the time the conference meet rolls around. So while I still can before the real racing trips begin (which, let’s be honest, is the stuff everyone wants to hear about), I’m going to take a moment to give everyone a sneak peak into what this team is really like.
First things first: I have never been on a more competitive team in my life. You need look no further than the obsessive relationship this team has with the board game Settlers of Catan. If you don’t know, it’s a board game that basically makes you feel like a serf in the Middle Ages as you collect different resources which can be traded to make roads or settlements. These guys’ passion for running may only be matched by this board game. If I were ever looking for the guys in the hotel, I only had to follow the sound of livid screams that Matt Magee was stupid to trade two wheat cards for a brick card. What does this have to do with running, you ask? Everything. We’re a hyper-competitive group of guys. Not a single one of us can stand losing – at anything. What we lack in muscle, coolness, and general ability to talk to girls we make up for in chips on our shoulders. And that’s the kind of attitude that’s going to propel us back on the national scene this year.
You see, when I came here as a freshman back in 2013, we were coming off a fifth-place national finish the year before. The men’s side didn’t even qualify for the national meet my freshman year. We’ve only made it twice in my four years here, never in the position of contender like we had in the past. This year we’re sick of talking about how good the teams were in the past. This year, we’re letting our competitiveness loose. Our men’s side has the tools to be great and we’re going to let the chips on our shoulders lead us to the finish line. We’re looking for a big finish this year. But first we have some business to attend to.
Bryce Kelley, a graduate student in Integrated Marketing Communications, is a fifth-year Seminole from Hope Valley, R.I. A two-time All-ACC Academic selection in cross country with his undergraduate degree in Creative Writing, Kelley will be providing a weekly inside look at the FSU men’s team throughout the season.