Sept. 20, 2013
KERNERSVILLE, N.C.- The objectives for the Florida State men's and women's cross country teams were quite simple at Friday's Wake Forest Invitational/Pre-ACC meet:
1) Get familiar with the Beeson Park course that will host the ACC Championship meet on Nov. 1, and; 2) Turn in a performance equivalent to a high-end workout, or early-season race effort.
The Seminoles mastered both tasks, and picked up a pair of lopsided victories against fields that included host Wake Forest, Clemson, Ohio University and Miami (Ohio), among others.
"We had great outcomes for mid-September," FSU women's coach Karen Harvey said. "Our workout crew executed and our race crew ran really well too. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to have a hard effort on the ACC course."
Junior transfer Hannah Walker (20:42.71) and classmate Colleen Quigley (20:59.8) cruised to a 1-2 finish over the twisting, turning and rolling 6000m course, outdistancing Ohio's Juli Accurso - an All-American and the Great Lakes Region champion in 2012.
FSU junior Linden Hall (21:09.79) and sophomore Pippa Woolven (21:16.192) were fourth and fifth overall, while sophomore teammates Georgia Peel (21:26.10) and Carly Thomas (21:34.74) placed seventh and eighth. The second-ranked Seminoles grabbed nine of the top 14 finishing positions and easily out-distanced runner-up Ohio, 19-59.
Braman wasn't any less enthusiastic about the performance turned in by the Seminole men.
Bryant Blahnik, Matt Mizereck and Josh Gracia led a meet-clinching 1-2-3 sweep for the Seminoles over the 8000-meter course. The trio was separated by just .14 seconds as they crossed the finish line.
"The guy that was pushing the action was Josh," Braman said. "They really did a nice job. Will Bridges was right there. I'm real pleased with it, given what we were trying to do.
"They did exactly what we intended them to do and wanted to do. They shared the lead, worked hard and ran down some guys that went out really hard."
Blahnik, a transfer from Missouri, was credited with the win in 25:07.17, followed Mizereck (25:07.29), a Tallahassee native and transfer from Florida. Gracia, a senior co-captain, was next in 25:07.31.
Redshirt sophomore Will Bridges placed 10th (25:25.77) and Cornell transfer Kevin Johnson (19th, 25:46.0) rounded out the Seminole scorers. FSU, which is ranked No. 23 nationally, out-distanced runner-up host Wake Forest, 31-56 for the team title.
"I was pleased," Braman said. "It's a complicated course and not fast by any means. Being here was a really smart move. Hopefully it will pay off down the road. It usually does."
Both FSU teams will be tested by strong fields on Oct. 5, when they travel to South Bend, Ind. for the Notre Dame Invitational.