MONTEVALLO, Ala. – Just a week after turning in an impressive effort on their home course, the Florida State women’s cross country team took their performance to a new level on the road Friday at the UAB Blazer Classic.
Competing over 6,000 meters for the first time this season against a field of 24 scoring teams – including 16 NCAA Division I schools – the Seminoles ran away with the team title. Jody Judd was the individual champion, pulling away over the second half of the race to win in 20:36.17 for a 13-second victory.
Judd was one of four Noles in the top six, chased across the finish line by freshman Yasmine Abbes (fourth, 20:56.40), sophomore Erin Phelps (fifth, 20:58.86) and freshman Ava Peeples (sixth, 21:04.37). Redshirt sophomore Kayla Easterly (16th, 21:25.14) rounded out the scoring Noles, whose 32-point team total was 62 points better than runner-up Southern Miss (94 points).
The Noles sent 27 runners to the starting line and came away with more than 20 personal-best times over 6,000 meters; some of whom were racing the distance for the very first time.”
“It felt like they were taking it as a championship race,” said FSU operations assistant Alex Midget, who accompanied the team to the meet for the second consecutive year. “Everyone was all-in and focused. They gave it their all and treated it like it was their ACC Championship.
“For us to go from fourth last year to first this year was amazing.”
Judd, a junior, narrowly missed her personal-best (20:20), but the next 15 Noles across the finish line didn’t. Abbes and Peeples were competing in their first 6k races, while Phelps was 1:45 faster than her previous best, which she set on the same course with a 36th-place finish a year ago.
Among the other major breakthroughs on the hilly trek were Ginelle DeMone (32nd, 22:42.41), Sarah Myers (34th, 21:43.04), Kate Bernicke (22:09.43) and Mariah Zupan (23:01.23).
In all, 10 of the 14 Noles who had previously completed a 6k collegiate cross country race, recorded personal-bests. And half of those – Easterly, Phelps, Zupan, Sidney Oakes-Lottridge (23:26.95) and DeMone – improved their previous-bests by more than 90 seconds.
Preceding Zupan across the finish line were a string of four freshmen – Mo Palmer (22:18.97), Abby Schrobilgen (22:23.31), Riley Bahr (22:46.02) and Ashley David (22:48.03) – who were among 13 in the lineup competing over 6,000 meters for the first time.
The performance capped an outstanding season for most of the group, though several individuals have positioned themselves for a spot on the ACC Championships roster in two weeks.
The balance of the Florida State women will get their chance Saturday at the Under Armour Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute, Ind.