TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The arrival of talented newcomers on the Florida State men’s and women’s cross country teams has coaches Bob Braman and Kelly Phillips believing the Seminoles will be even stronger than they were a year ago, when each team advanced to the NCAA Championships.
And it didn’t take long for some of those newcomers to announce their arrival on the course in 2019.
Kasey Knevelbaard won his Seminole debut at Friday’s Covered Bridge Open for the men, while Lauren Ryan was the runner-up for the FSU women; each leading their respective teams to victory.
On Wednesday, Knevelbaard and Ryan were recognized as the first ACC Cross Country Performers of the Week in the new season.
Knevelbaard, a graduate transfer from Southern Utah, cruised to victory over the 8,000-meter course at the Don Kennedy Trails and State Farm Fields in 24:58.48. The Caruthers, Calif. native, who owns a pair of first-team All-American honors as a middle distance runner on the track, pulled away late to an eight-second victory over host Appalachian State’s Issac Benz.
“Kasey has stepped right into a leadership role for us,” Braman said, after Knevelbaard showed the way as the Noles won their third consecutive CBO team title; the 11th in the last 20 years. “I’m pleased to see him honored as Performer of the Week. He’ll be one of the top runners the entire season in the ACC.”
The 20th-ranked FSU women, picked to finish third in the ACC according to the preseason coaches’ poll, came into the season looking to fill the void created by the graduation of All-American Militsa Mircheva. While that may require a collective effort, Phillips didn’t have to wait long to identify some new candidates.
Ryan, a junior transfer from Villanova by way of Brighton, Australia, announced her arrival with a runner-up finish in a dominating victory by the Noles in the nine-team event. Following a carefully-constructed race plan, she led a string of five consecutive FSU runners across the finish line, edging teammate and fellow Aussie Maudie Skyring by the narrowest of margins.
Despite a miss-marked course measuring 5,200 meters, Ryan finished in 18:02.85 – nipping Skyring (18:02.89) – as they finished behind High Point’s Famke Heinst (18:00.60). Not only did the Noles claim finishing positions 2-6 on the way to a 20-point team total and a 43-point victory, they flashed their depth as well. FSU placed additional runners in the top 15, including two other first-year athletes.
“When you are new to a program, sometimes it can be a little unnerving about where you’re going to fit in and what role you will play,” Phillips said. “It has been great having Lauren step in and become part of the team so quickly. She will play an important role for us as we move on to the championship meets.”
The Seminoles won’t return to action until Sept. 20 when they travel to the Virginia Tech Alumni Invitational and get a first look at the Blacksburg, Va. course, which will host the ACC Championships on Nov. 1.