TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Things are trending in the right direction for the Florida State cross country teams, which begin the season Friday in Boone, N.C. at the Covered Bridge Open.
Capping a week-long string of preseason poll releases, the Seminole women were tabbed to finish third and the men tied for fifth in the ACC Preseason Cross Country Coaches Poll, released Thursday by the conference office.
“I’m happy to see we have moved up a bit from our preseason rankings,” said fifth-year FSU women’s coach Kelly Phillips. “The ACC is an incredible distance conference and if you can be ranked in the top five, you can be a top-10 team at NCAA’s. We’re looking forward to a healthy and great season.”
It’s the highest projected ACC finish for the Noles women under Phillips and it comes a year after the team followed up a fourth-place showing at the ACC Championships by winning their first NCAA South Region title since 2013. With five of seven runners returning from the team, which placed 26th at the 2018 NCAA Championships, the Noles have been getting plenty attention in the preseason.
The Noles trail defending ACC champion NC State and runner-up Notre Dame, tucked in ahead of Syracuse. All four are ranked among the top 24 nationally.
On Wednesday, the FSU women checked in at No. 20 in the US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) preseason poll; one day after they were picked second in the South Region preseason poll.
The Florida State men, who also advanced to the 2018 NCAA Championships, are set to open their 20th season under coach Bob Braman with an even stronger squad. With the addition of transfer Kasey Knevelbaard, a two-time, first-team All-American on the track at Southern Utah, joining a core group of four returnees, the Noles are poised to improve on last season’s seventh-place ACC finish.
That was acknowledged by the conference coaches, whose preseason vote placed the Noles behind defending champion Notre Dame, Syracuse, NC State – all of whom are nationally ranked – and tied with Wake Forest for the No. 5 spot.
While the FSU were among teams receiving votes in the USTFCCCA National Preseason Poll, they were tabbed for No. 2 in the South Region preseason rankings.
“If you’re in the top five of the ACC then you likely have an appointment at the National Championships,” Braman said. “That’s our goal every year so we’re certainly starting in a good place. The ACC is such a tough league that it will definitely prepare you for national level competition.“
The Seminoles won’t encounter any ACC opponents at the 10-team Covered Bridge Open, hosted by Appalachian State at the Don Kennedy Trails at State Farm Fields for the 19th time in the last 20 seasons. In addition to the host Mountaineers the field will include Division I programs East Tennessee State, East Carolina, Western Carolina, UNC Asheville and High Point.
FSU’s women and men have each won 10 Covered Bridge Open team titles, including sweeps in 2017 and 2018.
Phillips women will get things started at 5 p.m. Friday with a 5000-meter race, followed by the men’s 8000-meter race at 5:45.
Live updates will be available via Twitter @FSUXC with a complete recap to follow Friday evening at Seminoles.com