TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Season-opening victories by the Florida State women’s and men’s cross country at Friday’s Covered Bridge Open produced a trio of Atlantic Coast Conference Performer of the Week honors for the Seminoles.
Senior Militsa Mircheva and freshman Elizabeth Funderburk led a 1-2-3 finish for the Florida State women and are the ACC Co-Performer and ACC Freshman of the Week, respectively.
Redshirt freshman Caleb Pottorff parlayed his collegiate cross country debut victory, heading up a 1-2-4 Seminole parade across the finish line, into ACC Men’s Performer of the Week honors.
Mircheva, who shares Performer of the Week honors with Louisville’s Dorcas Wasike, successfully defended her 2017 Covered Bridge Open title by breaking her own 5,000-meter course record at Kennedy Trails with a winning time of 16:50.25. Funderburk, the former Colquitt County high school star, closed out her collegiate debut close behind in 17:03.80.
Florida State women’s coach Kelly Phillips was especially excited about those performances – and quite a few others – because Mircheva and Funderburk posted fast times in a controlled race situation. Joined by teammate Maudie Skyring, they cruised through the first two miles together before racing hard to the finish.
“It was very encouraging, because both Militsa and Elizabeth ran under control,” Phillips said. “Neither of them looked like they were racing hard…It was nice to see Militsa run under control, relaxed and faster than last year.
“A year ago she her trying to prove herself here, so everything was really hard. She just pressed everything. Then by the end of spring, her body just shut down. She has become so much more mature. She knows she has to take her training a little bit slower early on and has been very receptive of that.”
It the fourth ACC Performer of the Week honor for the 2016 Olympian from Bulgaria, and also her fourth individual race victory in two seasons with the Seminoles.
Funderburk was no less impressive in grabbing Women’s Freshman of the Week honors. Her runner-up time was not only a 5000-meter cross country personal-best, but only Mircheva has run faster on the Boone, N.C. course, where the Noles have opened 18 of their last 19 seasons.
“She’s the real deal,” Phillips said of Funderburk. “She keeps everything under control and follows the race plan. I thought she looked pretty comfortable…She never looked like she was pushing too hard. She just looked like she was getting some work in.
“She’s still young, but she definitely has quite the engine. Every k [kilometer] it gets longer she’s gonna be better.”
Pottorff, who was the Florida Gatorade Boys Cross Country Performer of the Year as a senior at Lincoln Park Academy, didn’t waste his first full cross country race opportunity since that 2016 fall season. Running stride-for-stride with senior teammate Toby Hardwick over the 8000-meter course, Pottorff broke away for the win in 25:12.20 over the final 400 meters.
His time matches the fastest every posted by a Seminole over that distance on the Kennedy Trails, equaling Paul Lagno’s time in 2012.
“Caleb has waited a year to make his cross country debut, so he was really ready to race,” FSU men’s coach Bob Braman said. “He did a great job of controlling his emotions and launching at the end.
“Caleb has a chance to be a four-time All-ACC honoree and this is a great first step. His training is certainly on pace for such a lofty goal.”
The Seminoles will return to action of Friday, Sept. 14 when they travel to Boston, Mass. and face Boston University in a dual meet at historic Franklin Park, which will host the ACC Cross Country Championship meet in October.