TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The best days of running are still ahead for Florida State’s Erin Phelps and Yasmine Abbes, but at Saturday’s UAH Charger Open in Huntsville, Ala. the underclassmen provided a glimpse of that future.
Phelps and Abbes finished 1-2, leading the Seminoles to a runaway team victory.
On Wednesday they were recognized as ACC Women’s Performer and Freshman Performer of the Week, respectively.
“I’m so happy for Erin,” said FSU women’s coach Kelly Phillips of the sophomore from Tallahassee’s Chiles High. “She has always been an extremely hard worker; just puts her head down and trains. I love to see her running so well.”
Phelps collected the first cross country victory in nine years of competition, and did it in style, posting her fastest 5,000-meter time (17:50.51) by nearly 30 seconds for her win over a field of 115 runners.
While Phelps has shown tremendous progress in her second season, Abbes is determined to make up for her lack of cross country experience. The freshman from Nijmegen, Netherlands, arrived on campus in August as a world class junior athlete in the 1500, having never competed at a distance longer than 3,000 meters.
Eager to make an impact on the 17th-ranked Noles’ deep roster, she ran stride-for-stride with Phelps for two miles, and crossed the finish line in 18:11.8. That was a 70-second improvement over her debut a month earlier in the Noles’ 5.2k opener in Boone, N.C.
Equally excited by Abbes’ progress, Phillips poked fun at the excitable Dutch talent, who had a tough week leading up to her second cross country race.
“I have two words for her performance. ‘Holy Smokes,’” Phillips said, using one of Abbes’ favorite new phrases. “While that’s an inside joke, Yasmine has recently decided that she is a cross country runner and can actually run a 5k, even after falling off her skateboard and having scabs from head to toe.”
Joking aside, the pair join junior transfer Lauren Ryan – who earned Performer of the Week honors for her debut a month ago – to give the Noles their second and third individual conference honors of the young season.
Opportunity Awaits Noles At Notre Dame
It’s been a long time since the top lineup of the Florida State women’s cross country team has competed. Forced to miss their Sept. 20 trip to the Virginia Tech Alumni Invitational due to a flight cancellation, the Noles haven’t raced since their controlled Aug. 30 effort at the Covered Bridge Open.
The training wheels will come off Friday for Phillips’ team at the 64th Joe Piane-Notre Dame Invitational. The 17th-ranked Noles, who climbed two spots in this week’s US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) national poll, will get their first test of the season.
USTFCCCA National Rankings
FSU is one of 11 nationally-ranked women’s teams in the field of 24, which includes No. 1 and defending NCAA champion Colorado, No. 2 New Mexico, ACC rivals NC State (No. 8), Notre Dame (No. 12) and Boston College (No. 25), as well as No. 14 Ole Miss. The Rebels and Noles are currently ranked 1-2 in the South Region.
The women’s Blue Division 5,000-meter race is set for 1 p.m. at the Burke Golf Course.
Bob Braman’s FSU men face an equally impressive field in the men’s Blue Division 5-mile race at 1:45 p.m. Among teams receiving votes in the national poll, and ranked No. 3 in the South Region, the Noles return to action for the first time since a solid runner-up effort at the Virginia Tech Alumni Invitational.
Awaiting the squad are 12 nationally ranked teams, headlined by No. 4 Colorado and including No. 9 Notre Dame and No. 15 NC State from the ACC, top-ranked South Region power Ole Miss (No. 14) and No. 29 Alabama, which sits at No. 4 in the region rankings.
While the competition will be stiff for both the women and men, the weather conditions will be nearly ideal, with the race time temperature projected to be just south of 60 degrees.
You can follow the Noles via Twitter @FSUXC and visit Seminoles.com for complete coverage before and after the meet.