Aug. 30, 2011
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - On the heels of a pair of 2010 NCAA Cross Country Championships runner-up finishes, the Florida State men's and women's cross country teams have hardly disappeared from the national radar with the new season about to unfold.
The Seminoles will head to Boone, N.C. for Friday's season-opening Covered Bridge Invitational with U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Top 10 preseason national rankings in tow.
Bob Braman's men, who return five runners who competed in last season's championship meet, checked in tied for eighth with Indiana in the preseason poll. All-American Michael Fout and veterans Wes Rickman and David Forrester will pace the reigning ACC champions, who also return Seth Proctor and Jakub Zivec.
"We're certainly very pleased to be ranked in the Top 10 to start the season," said Braman, who was caught off guard a bit by the lofty mark, despite earning the top spot in the NCAA South Region rankings a day earlier.
"I'm not sure if the ranking is out of respect for our program, or because we were national runner-up last year, but we have a lot of work to do in order to earn that ranking."
Two-time defending champion Oklahoma State earned 10 of 12 first place votes to top the men's preseason poll. The Cowboys are followed in the Top 10 by Stanford, Wisconsin, Oregon, Iona, Oklahoma and Colorado, with the Seminoles and Hoosier tied for eighth, and Portland locking down No. 10
Florida State women's coach Karen Harvey, whose team has finished on the podium for four consecutive years at nationals, isn't in any hurry to have her team looking that far down the road. The Seminoles head into their opener ranked No. 6 in the preseason poll, one spot behind two-time defending champion Villanova; the team that finished just in front of Harvey's club each of the past two years.
"Right now the team is focused on training and integrating our newcomers into our program," Harvey said. "It will be interesting to see if these ranking reflect the final outcome."
The FSU women must replace a pair of All-Americans from the 2010 squad, but have a strong lead group led by junior co-captains with their own All-American status - Jessica Parry and Amanda Winslow. Hannah Brooks, an All-American in the 1500 meters during the outdoor track season, is also back.
Harvey, however, will try and bring along a talented group of six first-time cross country `Noles, led by NJCAA All-American Violah Lagat, Cal Poly transfer Kayleigh Tyerman and some heralded first-year collegians as well.
Georgetown earned its first No. 1 ranking to lead the women's poll, just in front of New Mexico, Providence and Colorado. Villanova and FSU are next with Stanford, Arizona, Duke and Iowa State rounding out the Top 10.
The Atlantic Coast Conference, with six member schools in the top 30, leads all leagues in poll representation among women's teams.