Overall Meet Summary
Vanderbilt women, Georgia men clinch NCAA berths with runner-up finishes.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State men’s and women’s teams successfully defended their NCAA South Region Cross Country Championship titles Friday morning at Apalachee Regional Park in dominating fashion.
Senior Violah Lagat led a 1-2-3 sweep by the top-ranked Seminole women, cruising to victory in a 6-kilometer course-record time of 20:06.6. Colleen Quigley (20:12.0) and Amanda Winslow (20:13.9) followed close behind as Florida State secured its seventh consecutive NCAA Championship appearance with a 24-point total.
Vanderbilt secured the second automatic NCAA Championship berth with a runner-up team finish. Kristen Findley (9th, 20:22.6), Hannah Jumper (11th, 20:26.9) and Liz Anderson (16th, 20:33.4) led the way for the Commodores, who finished with 112 points.
Georgia (115 points) and Florida (122) were in close pursuit, finishing third and fourth, respectively.
The Florida State men were equally dominant en route to a comfortable 27-48 winning margin over runner-up Georgia. Seminoles Jakub Zivec and Breandan O Neill commandeered a 1-2 finish for the Seminoles, covering the 10-kilometer course in identical 30:23.9 times. Wes Rickman finished fourth (30:37.2) overall for FSU, which will make its 10th consecutive NCAA Championship appearance on Nov. 17 in Louisville, Ky.
Georgia placed three runners in the top 10, led by Brandon Lord’s third-place finisher in 30:35.8. Brett Richardson (8th, 30:44.0) and Brian Detweiler (10th, 30:46.5) helped the Bulldogs pull away from Southeastern Conference rival Florida, which finished third with 67 points.
The top 25 finishers in both races earned USTFCCCA All-Region honors.
Only the top two teams in each race earned automatic berths to the NCAA Championships, along with the top four individual finishers in each race who were not members of the first- or second-place teams.
The NCAA will announce the 13 at-large team selections for both men and women from a pool of eligible teams nationally on Saturday.
FSU Men Romp To South Region Crown On Own Playground
Zivec, O Neill lead Seminoles to 10th consecutive NCAA Championship appearance.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State men’s cross country team turned the Apalachee Regional Park course into their own personal playground Friday morning, romping to a successful NCAA South Region title defense in dominant fashion.
Junior Jakub Zivec and senior Breandan O Neill led the celebration, saluting the home crowd with tomhawk chops as they crested the final hill, on the way to a 1-2 finish.
“Running this race on a home course was such a big advantage,” said Zivec, who was awarded the win despite finishing the 10-kilometer course in 30:23.9, the identical time as O Neill. “We knew every turn, every part of the course. The spectators were awesome. They were cheering us on the whole way through. We had a tough race two weeks ago [at ACC] and today it was just really good for the whole team, especially before nationals.”
The Seminoles clinched their 10th consecutive NCAA Championship appearance by placing five runners in the top 11; more than enough to out-distance runner-up Georgia, 27-48. The fourth regional championship in program history was all but decided heading into the final 1,000 meters.
“It’s great to feel good in this meet and get our confidence heading into nationals and the real gig is next week,” O Neill said.
Florida State handled both the move to 10-kilometers and the competition with a determined confidence that came out after a disappointing third-place finish at the ACC Championship two weeks ago, thanks in no small part to its veteran squad.
Senior Wes Rickman finish fourth (30:37.2), graduate student Seth Proctor was ninth (30:44.3) and senior David Forrester was 11th (30:48.9), rounding out the Seminole scorers. As an added bonus, freshman Zak Seddon turned in his finest performance of the year, placing 17th (30:59.3), followed by grad student Paul Lagno (22nd, 31:16.5).
It marked the first time in school history that the men had all seven runners earn USTFCCCA All-Region honors as top 25 finishers.
“This is a tough course,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “You don’t run fast on this course and we had six guys break 31 minutes, so real pleased with that and even Paul (Lagno), our seventh guy, was 31:16. All seven guys ran well.
“I felt like we would peak at the right time. I felt like we were getting ready for the right meets. I felt like we trained well for the 10K versus the 8K. So you feel those things, but until you see it, it doesn’t mean anything. They did a great job today.”
The Florida State women set the bar high on the earlier race, managing a scant 24 points that the Seminole men nearly matched.
“Yeah, we always want to do the same thing as the girls and it always doesn’t work out, but it did today,” Zivec said. “It’s a good team thing for them to get the ball rolling a little bit. We’re just trying to keep it going.”
Zivec and O Neill took charge midway through the second of four loops around the course, thanks to a little help from Proctor.
“When we ran we just knew all of the places where to speed up and when to slow down,” O Neill said. “We’ve been packing up the whole race and we agreed before the race where we were going to push on and make our move. It was really reassuring to see us all in the pack. We knew we would be alright on that last lap.”
It was Proctor who led the planned charge.
“Seth Proctor, a sixth-year senior, blows into the lead and stirs up the pack,” Braman said. “That really helped us because at that time, we were pretty much dead even with Georgia and yet we still had two and a half miles to go. So Seth made the move, Brendo (Breandan O Neill) and Kuba (Jakub Zivec ) just sat back and stayed together. Wes (Rickman ) kept his composure. Dave Forrester is as good as anybody that we got, he finished 11th today. … It was really a good team victory today. You could have taken anyone of the guys out there, scored the 6th or 7th guy, and we still would have made it.
“Check mark on the 10th straight year to nationals – one of the longest streaks in the country. Now we have a more important race in 8 days.”
The Seminole men will turn their attention to attaining a top-10 finish at the NCAA Championships next Saturday in Louisville, Ky., something they have managed just twice in the program’s history, most recently when they were runner-ups in 2010.
“That last lap was such a boost for our confidence heading into nationals,” Zivec said.
“I feel like we needed a good one because we have been good and ok and kind of mixed results throughout the year,” said Braman, whose squad has battled injuries to key runners since August. “What are we going to be at the end? … They are coachable. We needed that momentum, for sure, going to the next one.”
Florida State Women Roll To Region Title On Home Course
Lagat leads 1-2-3 sweep as ‘Noles turn attention to NCAA Championships.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - For several years now, Florida State’s dominant women’s cross country team was almost mythical in the eyes of the local running community, largely because coach Karen Harvey chose not to race her top-tiered runners at home.
Shortly after the sun cleared the tree-tops Friday morning at Apalachee Regional Park, Harvey unleashed her top-ranked Seminoles on the NCAA South Region Championship field of teams. Suffice to say, the locals now know what they have been missing.
Matching its most dominant performance in NCAA Region history, Florida State overwhelmed the field as senior individual champion Violah Lagat led a 1-2-3 finish by Seminoles. FSU claimed its third consecutive South Region title, and fifth in six years, by a whopping 24-112 margin over runner-up Vanderbilt. The point total matched the Seminoles previous South Region low, set at the 2010 meet.
“It was amazing when we had the crowd going crazy,” said Lagat, who covered the 6-kilometer course in record time (20:06.6). “Going into this race I just wanted to run well, and it was just amazing to have our home crowd cheering for us.”
Lagat hear plenty of cheers and only the footsteps of her teammates, sophomore Colleen Quigley and fellow senior co-captain Amanda Winslow, who chased her across the finish line in 20:12.0 and 20:13.9, respectively. The Seminoles’ dominance didn’t stop with the front-runners, as Kayleigh Tyerman (8th, 20:22.5) and Georgia Peel (10th, 20:25.1) rounded out the FSU scorers.
“This is the best team I’ve ever coached,” Harvey said.
Florida State put seven runners across the finish line before rival Florida managed to get its second runner home, putting to rest any notion that the SEC-champion Gators might surprise the reigning ACC champions. Florida finished a distant fourth, behind SEC rivals Vanderbilt and Georgia.
“We knew everyone was coming here to qualify for [Nationals], so it was not going to be easy,” Harvey said. “You never know, are other teams going to run really hard to win because it’s a pride thing and they want to win, too? But I will tell you right now, our girls decided a long time ago that we are going to win at home and we are going to win for the people of Tallahassee, for Florida State University, for all the fine people that helped build this and sponsor this course.
“They were very focused and I’m going to be honest, with a mile to go I have never seen them look so good. I didn’t need to say anything. They just are really on a mission right now. Honestly, it’s just fun to watch this.”
All seven Seminoles earned USTFCCCA All-Region honors as senior Jessica Parry finished 13th overall (20:30.4) and classmate Jennifer Dunn was 20th (20:38.7). It marked the third consecutive year the Harvey’s squad placed all seven runners in the top 25 at the season’s penultimate event.
Surprisingly enough, it marked the first time that six of the seven ‘Noles had ever raced all-out on the ARP course they call home, though they do practice on the facility with regularity.
“It went just the way we planned,” said Lagat, who backed up her first ACC individual title two weeks ago with her first NCAA Region crown. “We went out easy and not too hard. We felt really good. We’ve done a couple of workouts on this course and we knew when the tough part was coming up.”
The countless hours of side-by-side practice on the course – and the boost received from the partisan home crowd – certainly didn’t hurt.
“We’ve been doing this in practice so I think we were able to just do what we’ve been doing and just run together,” Lagat said of the 1-2-3 sweep. “It was amazing how we were able to finish like that.”
While Harvey will happily hang another regional championship plaque on her wall, she is even more anxious to bring home a one-of-a-kind trophy when the Seminoles travel to Louisville, Ky. for the Nov. 17 NCAA Championship meet.
Florida State has appeared on the podium with top-four NCAA Championship finishes each of the last five years.
“There are two, three other good teams out there that could be feeling and thinking the same things; peaking at the right time and it’s all about peaking,” Harvey said. “To be honest, the way we performed at ACC’s wasn’t the greatest collective effort that I have seen. It’s really made them come even harder and focus more on nationals.
“That is our final goal. We learned a lot last year and we want to apply it this year and run to the best of our ability. I believe the best of our ability can win.”
So does, Lagat.
“This race shows us that we can do it,” she said.