Under the direction of head coach Bob Braman the Florida State men’s cross country program has reached unprecedented heights. Entering his 16th season at the helm, Braman has guided the Seminoles to 11 NCAA Championship meet appearances, highlighted by a runner-up finish in 2010 and a fifth-place showing in 2012.
To add perspective to those accomplishments, prior to Braman’s arrival Florida State had made just one NCAA Championship appearance and produced just two All-Americans. The Seminoles ran off a streak of 10 consecutive appearances, which ran through the 2012 NCAA Championships and saw FSU runners collect seven All-American honors.
It should come as no surprise that Florida State has been one of the most productive programs in the Atlantic Coast Conference over the course of Braman’s tenure. Prior to his arrival in 2000, the FSU men’s cross country team had not finished higher than seventh in nine ACC Championship meets. Braman matched that all-time best finish in his first season, then guided the `Noles to back-to-back fifth-place finishes in 2001 and 2002. In 2003, the Seminoles charged to the first of four consecutive runner-up finishes at the ACC Championship meet, which, not surprisingly, coincided with the start of their 10-year run of NCAA Championship appearances.
The Seminoles flirted with the title on several occasions, including a one-point loss to NC State in 2004, before breaking through to win the school’s first men’s ACC team title in 2010. From 2003-2012 FSU’s men finished third or better nine times, including five runner-up performances. Individually, Andrew Lemoncello claimed back-to-back ACC Championship titles in 2004 and 2005. In all, 37 Seminoles have claimed All-ACC honors in Braman’s first 15 seasons after failing to produce a single honor in their first nine years of league membership.
Over the course of his career, Seminoles have claimed four ACC Rookie of the Year honors, to go along with ACC Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors to Matthew Leeder, Michael Fout and Jakub Zivec.
Four times the FSU men have won NCAA South Region team titles, including back-to-back triumphs in 2011 and 2012, the second of which came at FSU’s Apalachee Regional Park. Braman was instrumental in developing the Seminoles’ home course as part of a joint venture between Leon County, the Gulf Winds Track Club and the university. And in 2014, the Noles added a South Region runner-up finish, clinching an NCAA Championship berth on their home course as well.
In addition to his work with the men’s team, Braman also laid the foundation for the women’s cross country program, which he directed from 2000-2006 before turning it over to Karen Harvey. He guided the women to the first NCAA Championship appearances (2002, 2003 and 2006) in school history. His final women’s team, in 2006, finished fourth at the ACC Championship meet - a program-best at the time - and began the program’s current streak of eight consecutive NCAA appearances.
Braman succeeded Terry Long as the head men’s and women’s track & field coach prior to the 2004 season and helped to transform the Seminoles into a national power, claiming NCAA Championships in 2006 and 2008. Florida State’s men have finished fourth or better seven times in the last 10 outdoor seasons and fifth or better six times in the last nine indoor campaigns, including a fourth-place finish in 2014. At the conference level, no men’s program can rival FSU’s mastery – indoor or outdoor – during Braman’s tenure, as the Noles have collected nine ACC Championships trophies indoors and added their 10th outdoor title this past season.
On the women’s side, the Florida State track & field teams have remained among the ACC’s elite. The 2015 outdoor season saw the Noles finish sixth at the NCAA Championships; just the second top-10 team finish in 24 years. Under Braman’s watch FSU has posted two ACC Triple Crowns, sweeping the cross country, indoor and outdoor teams titles in the same school year, with its most recent conquest coming in 2014.
Needless to say, Florida State track & field has become synonymous with success on the championship stage.
Florida State’s trophy case provides substantial evidence. The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) bestowed the John McDonnell Award, presented to the men’s program that posts the highest average NCAA Championships finish from cross country, indoor and outdoor seasons, for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years. The FSU men placed in the top five in the final McDonnell Award tabulations for five consecutive years. Not to be outdone, the Florida State women finished sixth or higher for five consecutive years - one of only two programs that can make that claim - in the competition for the Terry Crawford Award, signifying comprehensive excellence on the women’s side.
In 24 combined team championship opportunities in the ACC with Braman at the helm, the Seminole men have five runner-up finishes to go with the 19 titles. The FSU women’s track & field team has won four ACC team titles and finished second 10 times in 24 championship opportunities.
On his watch, the Seminoles have brought home more than 200 All-American honors between the track & field and cross country programs and produced 38 national champions on the track. In 2011, Ngoni Makusha claimed The Bowerman Award - college track & field’s version of the Heisman Trophy - after claiming NCAA titles in the 100 (he set the collegiate record, 9.89), long jump and 4x100 relay.
Not surprisingly, Braman has been recognized 36 times with national, regional and ACC Coach of the Year honors since his arrival at Florida State.
The Seminole brand extends well beyond the borders. Twelve student-athletes who competed collegiately for the Seminoles participated in the 2012 London Olympics. It marked the second consecutive Summer Games the `Noles were represented by a dozen Olympians.
Before joining the Florida State family, Braman enjoyed 17 years of national success at the University of South Florida, where he began his coaching career as the men’s cross country assistant in 1983. He was promoted to head cross country coach in 1985 and launched the women’s program in 1986. When USF began its track program in 1991, Braman assumed head coaching duties for that sport as well.
Under Braman’s guidance, the USF men’s cross country team won three Conference USA titles (1997-1999), which followed a streak of six consecutive titles (1988-1993); three each as members of the Sun Belt and Metro conferences. He was honored Coach of the Year 14 times with the Bulls and his men’s cross country team earned national rankings in 10 of his last 12 years. On the track his teams produced 41 NCAA qualifiers, highlighted by two-time NCAA 5000-meter champion Jon Dennis (1992-93).
A Tampa, Fla. native, Braman graduated from the University of Florida in 1980 with a degree in broadcasting. He is married to the former Debbie Turner. They have two sons, Steven and Tyler, who are Florida State graduates.
Braman was a three-year captain of the Florida cross country team and earned All-SEC honors in cross country (1979-80) and indoor track (1979), while setting the school record in the indoor three-mile run.