Florida State Has Been Turning Walk-Ons Into Winners

Back in 2014, Sarah Myers was Seabreeze High School's No. 7 runner, cruising through the finish in most of her races in the 23-minute range.

She came back her senior year to break that 23-minute barrier by 10 seconds, running a 5K PR of 22:50 at her regional meet to help her team qualify for the 2015 FHSAA State Championship meet. 

And yet, there was a lot of promise there. Myers only started running her freshman year in 2012, and from the looks of it on paper, stayed consistently in the 23-24 minute range for cross country, times that many NCAA Division I programs across the state wouldn't pay attention to--let alone offer scholarships for. 

But as a dedicated student at Seabreeze who sought to continue in philanthropy work at a university, Myers looked to Florida State to continue her academic and athletic careers. 

Florida State head coach Kelly Phillips decided to take a chance. She took-on Myers as a distance walk-on athlete, one of many that they take on year after year, and began to transform her running career. 

In 2017, Myers made her collegiate debut at the FSU Invitational with an incredible three-minute PR of 19:34.5. She then turned that performance into a strong 6K debut later that season with a 23:09 performance. 

This past weekend, Myers dropped her cross country PR on her home course, running a stellar 18:29. She's come a long way from her 22:50 PR as a high school senior. 

Her story is not the only one like it on the Florida State team. 

Myers represents what distance athletes can and will become at Florida State.

In her five-year tenure, Phillips has taken many walk-on athletes, in addition to to the scholarship caliber athletes, and transformed their running careers, too. It's this attitude that has positioned FSU into a nationally-ranked program with a lot of in-state talent which often is overlooked. 

Mosely High School alumna Ella Swigler went from racing a 19:26 5K in high school to a 17:46 this weekend on her home course as only a sophomore.

Erin Phelps, a Tallahassee Chiles grad who chose hometown FSU after a high school PR of 18:53 in 2017, recently received ACC honors for her 17:49 performance at the FSU Invitational.

North Port alumni Kaley Boethig and Lindsay Boethig have seen their running careers soar at FSU as first-year members of the program this season. These names are just a few that have become pivotal pieces to the Florida State program. 

The men's team has followed the same pattern, adding strong in-state names to their recruiting roster, including the likes of Paul Stafford, Steven Cross, Clayton Carlson, Gabe Curtis, Matthew Newland--and countless others.

Just like the women's team, the men are nationally ranked this season making FSU the only NCAA Division I program in the state of Florida to have both men and women mentioned on the USTFCCCA NCAA Rankings so far this season. 

As their 2019 season heats up over the next few weeks, so will their recruiting news for both cross country and track for the 2020 fall season.

And one thing is for sure, FSU will continue to take the underdogs and make them into superstars.