BOONE, N.C. – Graduate transfer David Barney’s runner-up finish provided the Florida State men’s cross country team with the low stick it needed at Friday’s Covered Bridge Open and the balance of the Seminoles’ makeshift lineup did what was necessary to pull out the team win.
Barney covered the soggy 8,000-meter State Farm Fields course in 26:02.46, 10 seconds behind UT-Martin’s Edwin Kurgat, with his FSU teammates Bryce Kelley (5th, 26:14.25) and Tyson Murray (9th, 26:25.91) providing top 10 finishing support.
Michael Callegari (15th, 26:31.63) and Stanley Linton (16th, 26:33.51) rounded out the scoring five with the deciding finishes as the Seminoles edged NCAA Division II power Southern Indiana by four points, 43-47, for the team title.
“I couldn’t be more pleased for an opening race,” FSU men’s coach Bob Braman said. “We were able to win over a really good team, deal with some adversity with rain, mud and a crowded course, and we had some great individual performances.”
The Seminoles competed at less than full strength with veterans Steven Cross and Michael Hall sitting out, along with touted newcomers Istvan Szogi and Caleb Pottorff.
Barney, a three-time All-Colonial performer during his undergrad career at William & Mary, helped pick up the slack, as did Kelley and Murray, who were thrust into more prominent roles for the first time in their careers. Kelley, a graduate student in his fifth year at FSU, is coming off strong summer of training; much of which came alongside Murray, a redshirt sophomore who starred at Tallahassee’s Chiles High.
“I was especially pleased with Bryce and Ty,” Braman said. “We’re going to need big races out of those guys this year. And David Barney is the front-runner we hoped he would be.”
Were it not for the back-to-back finishes by Callegari and Linton, the Noles would have fallen to Southern Indiana. The two teams were deadlocked at 28 points apiece with their first four runners across.
Callegari’s performance was especially important. The senior from Great Britain, racing for the first time since undergoing hip surgery in December, was rock-solid in his return to competition. And Linton, a graduate student returning to collegiate competition for the first time since the 2015 cross country season, provided the decisive points on the heels of his teammate. The former Wakulla High star is competing for the Noles as a grad student while serving a tour in the Navy.
“A bonus for us was the healthy return of Callegari,” Braman said. “He’s only going to get better as he gets fit.
“It was also great to have Stan back in action. He keeps the pack calm in mid-race and that’ll be the key going forward.”
Matt Magee (27th, 27:01.58), Bert Freire (34th, 27:17.51) and Tom Hogarty (45th, 27:44.05) rounded out the FSU runners in the field of 126 finishers.
UT-Martin finished third (89 points), followed by East Tennessee State (95) and host Appalachian State (95).
The Seminoles, who were picked to finish fifth in the ACC Preseason Coaches Poll, will return to action Sept. 15 at the Virginia Tech Alumni Invitational, where they will be tested by the nationally-ranked host Hokies, among others.