September 1, 2016 - by
XC Open Season Motivated By No. 6 Pick

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As the Florida State men’s and women’s cross country teams prepare to open their season Friday at the Covered Bridge Open in Boone, N.C. they do so with a little added motivation. The Seminole men and women were picked sixth in the Atlantic Coast Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll, which was released Thursday by the conference office. That prediction would mark a one spot improvement for both teams, each of which finished seventh at the 2015 ACC Championships. Still, it does not reflect the optimism of the FSU coaching staff.

“I certainly understand how they arrived as sixth place, as last year we had six ACC schools finish inside the top 30 at nationals, with us being 29th,” Florida State men’s coach Bob Braman said. “But our goals are much higher than that and what we have this year is an older, more experienced squad.

“There may be a lot of fresh faces for us, but there’s a lot of stubble on those faces. Our scoring five average out at more than 22 years old.”

The Seminole men return 2015 All-ACC performer Harry Mulenga, All-South Region selection Grant Nykaza and veteran Michael Hall from a lineup that won the South Region title and advanced to the NCAA Championships for the 12th time in the last 13 years last season.

Braman, entering his 17th year at the helm, expects to extend that string of championship appearances thanks in large part to the addition of talented transfers Ibrahim Ahmed, Michael Callegari, Brandon Shemonia and Tyler Bennett, plus heralded freshman Steven Cross.

Second-year women’s coach Kelly Phillips will lean on 2015 All-ACC freshman Carmela Cardama Baez, junior Bridget Blake and the continued development of a roster that had four freshmen contributors last season. The Seminole women also welcome transfer Catherine Blaney, USF’s No. 1 runner last season, and talented newcomers Hailey Hendry and Megan Mooney.

“The ACC is an excellent conference, so while I don’t think we are a sixth-ranked team, we haven’t earned the right to be ranked higher just yet,” Phillips said. “We are better than sixth and we will show that this season, and with our new additions it will be a very exciting season for the Seminoles.”

The ACC coaches tabbed defending national champion Syracuse – the three-time defending conference champions – as the team to beat on the men’s side. The Orange were the unanimous choice, followed by Virginia, NC State, Louisville and Virginia Tech. Each of those teams finished in the top five at last year’s conference championship.

Perennial power NC State, which checked in at No. 5 in the United States Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Preseason rankings, was the top choice among ACC women. The Wolfpack checked in on the ACC Coaches’ ballot just ahead of defending champion Virginia, with Notre Dame, Syracuse and Virginia Tech rounding out the top five.

XC Open Season Motivated By No. 6 Pick


Most are predicting another strong year nationally for the ACC, with four men’s teams and four women’s squad ranked among the top 30 in the USTFCCCA coaches’ preseason polls, which was released Tuesday.

Syracuse checks in with a No. 1 national ranking, followed by Virginia (14), Louisville (24) and NC State (30). The Florida State men, who are ranked No. 2 in the USTFCCCA South Region preseason rankings, also received votes in the national poll.

NC State’s women earned a No. 5 preseason ranking, followed by Notre Dame (14), Syracuse (14) and Virginia (16). The Seminole women are ranked No. 6 in the USTFCCCA South Region preseason rankings, following last season’s fourth-place region finish.

The Seminole men and women kick off their season Friday at 5:30 p.m. in Boone, N.C. at the Covered Bridge Open.

2016 ACC Preseason Cross Country Coaches Poll


1. Syracuse

2. Virginia

3. NC State

4. Louisville

5. Virginia Tech

6. Florida State

7. Notre Dame

8. North Carolina

9. Duke

10. Clemson

11. Georgia Tech

12. Wake Forest

13. Pitt

14. Boston College

15. Miami


1. NC State

2. Virginia

3. Notre Dame

4. Syracuse

5. Virginia Tech

6. Florida State

7. Boston College

8. Pitt

9. North Carolina

10. Duke

11. Clemson

12. Wake Forest

13. Louisville

14. Georgia Tech

15. Miami

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