Nov. 21, 2011
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - The same hazy, cool and damp conditions that were ideal for running at Monday's NCAA Cross Country Championships in many ways painted the mood of the Florida State women's team.
Karen Harvey's Seminoles came into the meet ranked No. 1 in the nation; a serious contender for the team title after back-to-back runner-up finishes behind two-time defending champion Villanova.
Though Hannah Brooks and Amanda Winslow captured All-American honors, finishing 28th and 34th, the Seminoles were saddled with a fifth consecutive podium finish as a consolation prize. Florida State finished fourth with 189 points, just 27 behind 2011 champion Georgetown (162). Washington (170) and Villanova (181) were second and third.
Bob Braman's men also received a pair of All-American performances and finished 12th overall; the third-best finish in 10 NCAA Championship appearances by the Seminoles. David Forrester posted a 16th-place finish - the best by a Seminole since Ken Misner was 13th in 1969 - and Mike Fout was 32nd in his final collegiate cross country race.
The disappointment of the women's team finish notwithstanding, the 27 points separating the Seminoles from a national title was the closest they had come in five consecutive NCAA appearances. FSU finished 34 points behind Villanova last season, while finishing second - its previous closest encounter with the coveted title.
STUDENT-ATHLETE & COACHES QUOTES
David Forrester, FSU Junior
On his 16th place finish - the second-best in FSU history at the NCAA Championship:
"I was running with Mike, who has obviously been an All-American before, so we were working together through the first 5k. We just wanted to be in position to look at say the top 20. I found myself in that position. I started really hurting around 6k-7k and kept on going. I looked up the home straight and said, `I'm going to kick.' I didn't know where I finished."
"To finish where I did is a dream come true."
On fighting to that position:
"I've been there in the past. I was 23rd at World Cross [Country Championships] and I've beat people like German Fernandez, who was top 15 today. I know I'm good enough to be there. I just said, `I'm going to hurt, but I'm going to finish with these guys,' and that's what happened."
On the 12th place finish by the men:
"Obviously we wanted to get top 10. We didn't, but to finish 12th in credible. That's the third best finish Florida State has ever had."
Mike Fout, FSU senior co-captain
On his performance:
"I had a bit of rough go about the 6k mark. The chase pack bunched up and kind of took off. I fell off around there. I thought I hung tough; ran pretty well. I'm disappointed by not completely discouraged."
On earning All-American honors for a second consecutive year:
"That was definitely the goal coming in, to be All-American and improve on my finish from last year. I gave myself the opportunity to do that."
"I'm going to keep at it, work hard and hopefully we'll all have a good track season."
On the team's performance:
"For once the rankings kind held true. Breandan [O Neill] has really stepped up and run well for us at the end of the season. I'm really looking forward to what he can do on the track. He really helped us."
"The injury bug biting is really tough, but I don't think any of us are hanging our heads."
Hannah Brooks, graduate student and top finisher for the women
On bouncing back from a disappointing performance at nationals in 2010:
"I definitely wanted to come and make amends for last year. I think I did that to some extent. All of us girls were kind of hoping to have that magical day. Today is really about the team and overall it was a bit of a disappointment after all the strong races we've been having all season.
"I'm happy to be an All-American. I believe I definitely could have helped the team do better than we did, but that's how it goes on the day. We gave our best."
On whether there's a silver lining in having the closest finish to a title:
"At the start of the season our goal was to make the podium and we did achieve that. That's definitely something positive to take back. The fact that it was so close within our grasp makes it slightly more frustrating, to some extent."
"We've got things we can take away from this race and learn. I'm the only person not coming back next year, so hopefully these girls can take away a lot from this race and come back with avengance."
Amanda Winslow, junior co-captain
On when she realized that things weren't going well for the team on the course:
"During the race our plan was to really work as a team. I saw Hannah and that was it, and I wasn't having my best race. The girls all coming through the finish chute weren't happy."
On her All-American performance after finishing seventh on the team in 2010:
"I got my minimal goal, which was to improve 100 places and I did that. ... Last year's race ended up helping me more than hurting me."
On how the disappointment of the team finish may help down the road with six runners returning next season:
"I think that's a really good sign for next year because no one's walking away from this race really happy with themselves. ... I think we're in a place where we're looking for revenge. It's disappointing, but it motivating."
Karen Harvey, Florida State women's coach
"When I saw that two 19-year old girls were fourth and fifth - and had never been at this meet - I knew we were in trouble. ... They battled. They stepped up hard."
On the performances of Brooks and Winslow:
"Hannah and Winslow ran solid ... They're All-Americans and I'm happy they have that honor."
The experience of watching the race unfold not in a way she expected:
"I felt like I was watching a nightmare. I really thought there was no way this is happening. I'm really happy we got on the podium again and we were in fourth place, but obviously we're in a lot of pain. This hurts."
Whether she was confident that the team could move up after being in 5th place at the mid-race point:
"I've seen us get it done like that from the 3k. Then there was this weird big back at the front. I've never seen that before since I've been at this meet. There is never that many girls that finish that close together. It's always strung out."
"The problem is we took a chance. We wanted to sit back a bit and then go, but they settled. They never went. They got out fine, but they settled."
Bob Braman, Florida State men's coach
On finishing the 12th place finish despite injury that limited Wes Rickman:
"I'm real pleased with it. We were third-highest in school history. We knew it was going to be tough when you've got your co-captain, No. 4 (runner), who trying to finagle his way through a race with a bad leg. It just doesn't happen that way. Our top three ran really tough. Dave was way up there in 16th place. That's fantastic; higher than Ciaran [O Lionaird] last year.
"I thought they all competed well. Mike just had a better day last year when he was 28th, but I thought the field was better this year."
"I thought we overcame some adversity and fought pretty hard."
"I don't think there are too many teams in the country that can lose one of their top guns and finish in the top 10. We nearly did that."
Braman said FSU runners 4-7 made a tactical error by not getting out faster at the start:
"Kuba [Jakub Zivec] moved past 70 guys and I couldn't be more proud of him, but if he had been in better position maybe he's 80th instead of 138th, or a position where we could have finished in the top 10th."