BOSTON, Mass. – It has been eight years since the Florida State cross country teams last competed in a dual meet. Once a scheduling staple, the dual meet – a head-to-head meeting with a single opponent – has virtually vanished from the landscape, replaced by multi-team events.
Friday morning’s meeting between the Seminoles and host Boston University at venerable Franklin Park, however, is more than a curious return to the days of old. Consider it a research project with a competitive twist.
The Seminoles are replicating their 2010 trip to Franklin Park, when they faced off against Boston University in a September dual meet, intent on getting a first-time look at the course which would host the ACC Championships in October.
That initial visit proved bountiful as the Noles returned 42 days later as the men won their first ACC title and the women claimed their fourth of seven consecutive crowns.
The 2018 Noles arrive with the same mission in advance of the Oct. 26 ACC Championships meet. FSU’s women are scheduled for a 10 a.m. start of the 5000-meter race, with the men’s 8000-meter race to follow at 10:30.
“We could go to a big Boston meet next week and see the ACC course, but I don’t know that we’d get anything more accomplished,” Braman said. “We want to be ready for Notre Dame [Sept. 28] and get some points, if possible.”
That would be difficult racing back-to-back weekends.
“We can solve what we need to get done this weekend in Boston,” he added. “We kept a few guys home trying to get them healthy, like Toby [Hardwick]. We’re taking eight guys – we’ll have 10 at conference – and every one of these guys if they’re healthy will be at the conference meet.”
Phillips will send 11 women into competition, all of whom will be vying for spots on the ACC Championship meet roster.
“I think it will be a good opportunity for them to see [the course] before ACCs,” Phillips said. “Running it blind, because we won’t get to see the course the day before, is kind of fun. It’s good to have that little bit of uneasiness of not knowing what the course is.
“I think they’re excited about getting up there, seeing the course and taking what they did at Boone and stepping it up one more step; see if they can still run in packs but at a little faster pace.”
Both teams are coming off victories in the Aug. 31 season-opening Covered Bridge Open in Boone, N.C., where Militsa Mircheva led a 1-2-3 finish for the women and Caleb Pottorff paced a 1-2-4 finish line crossing for the men.
Braman’s men will be tested by a Boston University squad which ranks No. 5 in the highly competitive Northeast Region with a lineup which will include the Seminole debuts of true freshmen Paul Stafford and Matthew Newland and sophomore transfer Chris Corcoran.
“It’s kind of fun to see them get excited,” Braman said of the youngsters. “The guys putting on the uniform for the first time – Stafford, Newland and Corcoran – are ready for it. They’re not going to be over-whelmed.
“Boston U is good. I know their first three runners are good…We’ve got to put all eight missles at the front and mix it up with them.”
Phillips was pleased with the pack-tactics her team displayed in the opener and would like to see similar results, albeit at a bit quicker pace following two weeks of practice.
“I’d like to see the middle of the race push a little bit harder this time,” said Phillips, who expects Mircheva to be joined in the front pack once against by Elizabeth Funderburk and Maudie Skyring.
Kayla Easterly was close behind the lead group the last time out as well.
“I’m excited to see Megan Mooney two weeks more fit,” Phillips added. “I can see a difference in her training. I’m excited to see Ellie Wallace for the first time racing, because her training has gone real well, then the continued progression of [Hailey] Hendry, [Jen] Lima, [Sarah] Candiano, [Althea] Hewitt group that has been working so well together.”
The course at Franklin Park, which hosted its first cross country meets in 1914 and entertained the world’s best at the 1992 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, will provide the Noles will a formidable test.
You can follow the progress throughout the meet via Twitter @FSUXC and get a complete recap Friday at Seminoles.com.