TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – With Elizabeth Funderburk and Kasey Knevelbaard delivering the low sticks, the Florida State cross country teams came away from Saturday’s Under Armour Pre-National races with strong set-up performances heading into the ACC Championships.
Funderburk finished 11th overall against a field of more than 250 runners, finishing her first 6,000-meter race of the season in 20:29.1, to lead a fifth-place finish for the FSU women. The Noles came into the meet tied for No. 11 in the national rankings and vanquished five ranked teams, including Boise State, with whom they shared the No. 11 ranking. The Broncos finished 12 in the 37-team field.
Racing most of the way with a sizzling lead pack of 20, Knevelbaard finished 15th overall in the 8,000-meter trip around the LaVern Gibson Championship Course, cross under the finish arch in 23:47.3. A tight pack of four Noles finished within six seconds of each other, delivering the FSU men a sixth-place finish which included victories over four nationally squads.
FSU’s men came into the meet tied for No. 30 nationally and posted wins over No. 14 Oklahoma State, No. 15 Indiana, No. 27 Arkansas and No. 29 Virginia Tech.
Caleb Pottorff led the Noles’ chase pack in 50th place (24:27.0) and was followed by Silas Griffth (59th, 24:30.5), Steven Cross (61st, 24:31.9) and Paul Stafford (65th, 24:33.2).
“We came here and put another strong, committed, mental effort together,” said men’s coach Bob Braman. “They were committed to each other, running in a pack. ‘How long has it been since we’ve seen that?’ A long time.
“I’m really happy with it and proud of the guys. They competed well.”
So too did coach Kelly Phillips’ women, who finished with 204 points and trailed only No. 8 Washington (84 points), No. 2 BYU (87), No. 3 Colorado (126) and No. 7 Michigan (164).
“I was most encouraged that we didn’t get beat by anybody, but we didn’t surprise anybody either,” Phillips said. “It was a solid day. It wasn’t super sexy but it was good. There are a lot of pieces that can do better, but we didn’t do anything to spoil it. The top five did their job.”
Redshirt sophomore Addi Coggins was the Noles’ second finisher, placing 26th in 20:41.8, followed by junior Maudie Skyring (36th, 20:44.9), senior Megan Mooney (57th, 20:59.9) and freshman Rebecca Clark (79th, 21:14.4).
“That was probably the best Funderburk has ever gotten out,” Phillips said. “Maudie got out well and struggled a bit in the middle. Addie moved through the pack really, really well.
“Rebecca Clark, I told her it was her first big-girl race, and she did not run like a freshman. She ran like an athlete that was here to compete.”
Funderburk, a sophomore, established herself as a contender for postseason honors with a performance that went exactly as she had hoped. In the first 6k race of the season for the women, she became the third different Nole to finish in the top spot on the team, joining Lauren Ryan and Maudie Skyring.
“It was really fun being in that front back, which was my plan,” said the Moultrie, Ga. native. “I just wanted to stay with them as long as I could…It went pretty fast. I went through the 5k under 17-flat. This gave me a lot of confidence going into these next two meets; ACCs and Regionals. Going under 20:30 gives me confidence that I can go out faster and hang on.”
Knevelbaard, a graduate transfer from Southern Utah, was encouraged by his progress since placing 19th at the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational two weeks ago.
“I just wanted to put myself there with the top guys and be a contender,” Knevelbaard said. “There were a lot of really good people in the race and I just wanted to hang in there as long as I could. I think it was good progress from Notre Dame…Fifteenth-place here is a good step up from Notre Dame, running about the same time on a harder course.”
And while he is the undisputed low stick on the team this season, he was even more encouraged to see his teammates packing up behind him to aid the team effort.
“This was a pretty deep race and pretty top heavy as well,” he added. “I think this is a testament to how consistent we’ve been in workouts and how we work out together as a pack. It was awesome.”