TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State men’s and women’s cross country team will open the 2014 season as the favorites to win the NCAA South Region and advance to the NCAA Championships.
The Seminoles earned that distinction when the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) released its preseason Regional Team Rankings on Monday.
Coach Bob Braman’s FSU men finished third at the NCAA South Region meet last season as their streak of 10 consecutive NCAA Championship appearances came to a close. The Seminoles likely return only one runner from the seven-member lineup from that meet. Junior Zak Seddon, who earned All-Region honors last season, will be joined by a host of established newcomers to the program.
Princeton transfer Tyler Udland, redshirt junior Glen Yarham and Jack Goodwin, a transfer from Bedfordshire University in the United Kingdom, figure to form a strong core at the top of the FSU lineup.
“Obviously it’s a preseason poll so we don’t want to read too much into it,” Braman said. “With all the struggles we had last year with injuries and trying to pull it together for one day and not being able to do, it’s nice to be back on top and in the position to defend that spot.”
Second-ranked Auburn, which finished fourth last season, is joined by Florida, Mississippi and Georgia among the top five contenders in the preseason rankings.
Coach Karen Harvey’s Seminole women won their fourth consecutive NCAA South Region title last season and return four All-Region performers, including defending individual champion, senior Colleen Quigley. Linden Hall (sixth), Pippa Woolven (seventh) and Carly Thomas (18th) return, along with veteran Georgia Peel.
Vanderbilt and Alabama check in at Nos. 2 and 3 in the women’s preseason rankings – identical to last season’s finishing order – while Mississippi State and Lipscomb round out the top five.
The Seminoles are one of only five programs to have both their men and women ranked No. 1 out of nine regions, joining Arkansas (South Central), Colorado (Mountain), Oregon (West) and Syracuse (Northeast).
Florida State will host the 2014 NCAA South Region Championships on Nov. 14 at Apalachee Regional Park. It marks the second time the Seminoles will host the meet, which guarantees NCAA Championship berths to the top two finishing teams. FSU swept both the men’s and women’s titles in 2012 on the course.
The Seminoles will kick off their 2014 season Friday at the UVa Duals, which will be contested on the Panorama Farms Course in Earlysville, Va., where the ACC Championships will be held on Oct. 31.