EARLYSVILLE, Va. – On a crisp, clear Friday morning in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains the Florida State cross country teams learned that anything less than a best effort – from squads at full strength – would not be enough to win Atlantic Coast Conference titles.
In a field of six nationally ranked women’s teams – the most of any conference in the country – the 12th-ranked Seminoles saw their streak of six consecutive ACC title come to a close at the hands of 15th-ranked North Carolina. The Tar Heels rolled to a 42-point winning margin by placing six runners in front of FSU’s fourth and fifth finishers.
Colleen Quigley paced the Seminoles with a second-place finish behind Boston College’s Liv Westphal, covering the 6,000-meter course in 19:57.1. Westphal won in a course record 19:43.8. Linden Hall was ninth in 20:25.3 and Pippa Woolven placed 15th in 20:35.8, with all three earning All-ACC honors.
“Obviously our top three ran really well,” said FSU coach Karen Harvey. “We had huge personal-bests out of [Katie] Slater and [Christine] Griggs. UNC ran out of their minds. They had an incredible day and we just didn’t have all five. I knew coming UNC was going to be tough and they ran their best race today.”
Georgia Peel (31st, 21:10.1) and Slater (42nd, 21:24.4) rounded out the scoring five as the Seminoles finished with 99 points to UNC’s 57. Host and No. 13 Virginia was third (109), followed by No. 18 NC State (119).
“I really wanted to come out of my senior year cross season with an ACC championship both individually and as a team, so I’m pretty bummed walking away with neither of those goals completed,” Quigley said.
“This team has yet to come together and all run well at a meet this year and no one seems to be sure why…Losing is no fun, so moving forward, I can’t help but think this will motivate everyone for regionals and nationals so we don’t feel this feeling of immense disappointment again.”
FSU men’s coach Bob Braman’s squad was handicapped from the start, heading to the starting line without injured redshirt Glen Yarham – one of its top two runners – and with fifth runner Stanley Linton still fighting back from illness. , who has been the team’s first or second finisher in each meet this season. Those obstacles were a lot to overcome for the 15th-ranked Seminoles.
Syracuse used a mid-race surge by its six-man lead pack to open up a lead it did not relinquish and successfully defended its 2013 title. Led by individual champion Martin Hehir’s course record (23:15.2), the third-ranked Orange won going away with 32 points.
Florida State finished fifth with 158.
Tyler Udland led a trio of Seminole All-ACC performers with a seventh-place finish, covering the hilly 8,000-meter course in 23:29.3 and was followed by teammates Jack Goodwin (12th, 23:38.7) and Zak Seddon (23:50.3).
“I can’t be upset with our whole team,” Braman said. “You basically had three of our 10 off the board before you start the race…The top three guys ran tough. That’s the best Zak has run in cross country at any race, and on this really, really tough course. If you can do it on this course, you can roll on the ARP and roll at Terre Haute. I’m happy with that because if we can get those pieces back – and I think we can rather quickly – now you still you have a shot to meet that goal and be a top-10 national team.”
Antony Taylor (55th, 24:43.5) and Otniel Teixeira (79th, 25:07.1) rounded out the scorers, while Bryce Kelley was 80th (25:08.7). Neither Linton nor Grant Nykaza were able to finish, and freshman Michael Hall hobbled home in 112th.
“I just wanted to try and stay as close as possible to that front group as long as possible,” said Udland, who was in the lead pack when the Syracuse group made its break. “That was kind of our plan, to stay there and give us a shot.
“I would have liked to be a couple spots higher. It was still a really solid race. Team-wise we weren’t at 100-percent strength. If we had Glen and Stan healthy in there I think we would have done really well. Everyone who ran today ran a really good race.”
The Seminoles return to action on Nov. 14 when they host the NCAA South Region Championships at Apalachee Regional Park.