TALLAHASSEE – From the start of the 2010 season through the completion of the 2014 regular season the Florida State women’s cross country team held the No. 1 ranking in the US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) South Region.
Buoyed by their third-place finish at Friday’s Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational, the Seminoles – ranked No. 17 in the national poll – returned to the top spot for the first time since their 41 poll appearance streak was snapped five years ago.
The Noles ascended to the top spot in the South Region, trading places with Ole Miss, after knocking off nine nationally-ranked teams at Notre Dame’s Burke Golf Course.
Fifth-year FSU coach Kelly Phillips, whose team was ranked third when it won the 2018 NCAA South Region title, has mixed feelings about the rankings.
“You could be great in the rankings and lousy on the day,” Phillips said. “It’s nice to be up there. Always the goal is to get higher ranked, whether it’s regional or national. The reality of it is you’ve got to be able to do it in November and be amazing then. If they’re amazing then, the rankings are great.”
Still, the Noles were quite impressive in what was their first all-out race of the season and their first competition since Aug. 30 at the Covered Bridge Open.
With a meet-best 14.6-second gap between its first and fifth finishers, FSU totaled 129 points, finishing behind unranked Utah (110 points) and No. 1 Colorado (116), the defending NCAA champions.
The Noles defeated No. 2 New Mexico, No. 6 Washington, No. 8 NC State – the three-time defending ACC champions – No. 9 Wisconsin, No. 12 Notre Dame, No. 14 Ole Miss, No. 16 Iowa State, No. 25 Boston College and No. 29 Minnesota. In all, 24 teams made up the field in the Blue Division race.
“To be honest, they ran it like it was their first race,” Phillips said. “I feel like there are so many things they could have done better, which is good. For us to show that we’re the team I think we are, we have to do well at Pre-Nats. We don’t have to, but that will kind of confirm things.”
While the Noles will host the FSU Invitational on Friday at Apalachee Regional Park (7:40 a.m), the vast majority of those who competed at Notre Dame will not compete again until the Oct. 19 Under Armour Pre-National meet in Terre Haute, Ind., site of the Nov. 23 NCAA Championships.
Florida State’s men held firm at No. 3 in the South Region rankings for the third consecutive week, following its solid 10th-place finish at Notre Dame. The Noles came into the meet receiving votes in the national poll and defeated three nationally ranked teams.
Both teams are expected to make some movement when the USTFCCCA National Rankings are released late Tuesday morning.
Inside FSU’s Notre Dame Performances
Both the Florida State women and men turned in their best performances at Notre Dame in a number of years, at least based on the clock.
The Noles have been racing at the Burke Golf Course for years, and the course has not changed, which is one reason Friday’s performances provided a good barometer for the progress they’re making.
In addition to the impressive 14.6-second 1-5 split, the women produced five of the top 15 times at Notre Dame in program history. Their team average of 16:50 is second only to the 2012 FSU squad which featured a trio of Olympians, and a 30-second improvement over their 2018 team average.
Maudie Skyring’s third trip with the Noles to the meet culminated with a 17th-place time of 16:41.56, which ranks third all-time among FSU runners at the course, trailing only Susan Kuijken (16:26) and Colleen Quigley (16:29). Joining her on the top-15 list were Jodie Judd (No. 8, 16:48.77) and Elizabeth Funderburk (No. 10, 16:49.47), who improved by 22 and 17 seconds, respectively, on their previous bests.
Addi Coggins (No. 13, 16:56.03) and Lauren Ryan (No. 14, 16:56.61) rounded out the group of top-15 newcomers.
In all, seven of 10 Noles posted the fastest 5000-meter times of their careers, with freshman Rebecca Clark (17:22.42) and sophomore Ellie Wallace (17:27.97) joining the first five.
“I don’t want to get too confident in what they can do, but I don’t even think they know how good they are,” Phillips said. “I think they’re starting to get it.”
Like the women, the Florida State men also took advantage of ideal racing conditions in their 5-mile race, posting an average time of 24:14, which is second-fastest in program history and a 34-second improvement from 2018.
“This was the best Notre Dame field we’ve ever come up against and I’ve come here a lot,” said FSU men’s coach Bob Braman. “Top to bottom that’s one of the better time performances we’ve had here. But we’re going to have get a little bit better if we’re going to be a national team. At least the guys can see how close we are. It’s right there.”
Grad transfer Kasey Knevelbaard lopped 12 second off his previous best effort at Notre Dame, placing 19th in 23:46.04, which ranks No. 3 all-time among Noles on the course. Sophomore Paul Stafford used a 40-second improvement over his 2018 time to crack FSU’s top-15 at the meet (24:10.41).
Senior Steven Cross (24:18.32) registered a 20-second PB on his fourth trip to Notre Dame. Junior transfer Silas Griffith’s first race on the course with the Noles finished up in 24:30.29, while Tyler Dau (25:21.45) was 32 seconds better than a year ago around the course.