TALLAHASSEE – The Florida State women’s cross country team is heading back to the NCAA Championships in style.
The No. 12 Noles won their second consecutive NCAA South Region title in style on a cool and damp Friday morning at Apalachee Regional Park. Six Noles earned All-Region honors, led by the top-10 trio of Maudie Skyring (fourth), Elizabeth Funderburk (sixth) and Addi Coggins (seventh), as FSU finished with 42 points and a 58-point margin of victory over runner-up and No. 27 Ole Miss.
It is the second-largest margin of victory in the program’s history of eight region titles; the bi-product of a nearly perfectly executed race plan.
“The plan was to pack up, which they did early,” said fifth-year coach Kelly Phillips. “I was pretty pleased with that. Megan Mooney hasn’t been feeling well the past two days and you could tell she was a bit off, but the good part is when you have a team that’s deep it’s OK for someone to fall off, because they have back-ups. They executed very well.”
So well that their 42-point total was the lowest winning score since 2013, when the Noles finished with 35 points and beat runner-up Vanderbilt by a whopping 81-point margin.
“I didn’t think we’d be able to have a score that low,” Phillips said, after her team secured the 13th NCAA Championships berth in program history, all since 2002. “I knew they were ready to run fast and it’s their home course and were excited about it. I was a little surprised it was as low as it was.”
Skyring, a junior, led the charge by finishing the 6,000-meter race in 20:21.8, with Funderburk (20:26.1) and Coggins (20:31.7), both sophomores, close behind.
The deciding factor, however, was the supporting cast. Junior Jodie Judd earned her third All-Region honor, placing 12th (20:35.4) with junior transfer Lauren Ryan (15th, 20:38.6) and freshman Rebecca Clark (22nd, 20:42.6) also earning All-Region honors.
Mooney was 30th in 21:03.9, three seconds faster than she was on the same course in 2018 when she placed 18th.
“We looked up at the scoreboard and said, ‘Oh, wow. We won,’” Skyring said. “It was very exciting to see how well we did and shows the depth that we have in the program right now. It’s very exciting considering the history FSU has and what great teams there have been.”
The six All-Region honors are the most for the Noles since the 2012 team, which finished second at the NCAA Championships, landed seven honors.
“We really wanted to really work and stay together as a team, practicing what we’re going to put into practice at nationals,” Skyring said. “After today we have a lot of confidence. We had six All-Region, which was really impressive.
“Going into next week we have all the confidence we need to achieve our main goal this season, which is to be top-10 in the nation.”
While the women were romping to victory, the Seminole men had their hands full against a field which included No. 11 Ole Miss, No. 15 Middle Tennessee State and No. 28 Alabama.
Redshirt sophomore Caleb Pottorff led the way, placing 15th overall in the 10,000-meter field (30:46.4) and was joined on the All-Region team by senior Steven Cross (25th, 31:06.4).
Their efforts not withstanding led the Noles to a 136-point total and a fourth-place finish, behind the ranked trio. Ole Miss won their fourth title in six years – all at Apalachee Regional Park – with 69 points. Middle Tennessee (83) and Alabama (97) were close behind.
“I was happy to do something for the team and be who I was supposed to be and expected to be all year, but at the same time it’s frustrating,” said Pottorff. “I feel like it’s not enough, because we’re still not sure where we’re going to be.”
Coach Bob Braman’s team must now await Saturday’s NCAA Championship field reveal to learn whether they received one of 13 at-large berths.
“The guys were too hyped up,” said Braman. “They went out way too fast and paid the price. We’ve got to keep our composure better if we’re going to be a Top 10 National level program in cross country.”
Redshirt freshman Jacob Holmes (29th, 31:16.6) turned in his finest performance of the season to place third on the team, just ahead of Kasey Knevelbaard (34th, 31:25.1) and Silas Griffith (35th, 31:26.1), who rounded out the scorers.
Paul Stafford (37th, 31:27.1) and Matthew Newland (75th, 32:17.6) rounded out the FSU lineup.
“We have an outside chance at an at-large berth,” Braman said. “I hope the guys get one more chance. They’re certainly fit enough to race next week.”