Aug. 31, 2012
BOONE, N.C. - The nationally-ranked Florida State men's and women's cross country teams turned in winning efforts Friday in the annual, season-opening Covered Bridge Invitational.
Sophomore Linden Hall and Jessica Butler provided the fourth-ranked Seminole women with a 1-2 finish as coach Karen Harvey's scaled back squad rolled to a win over a field which included full squads from host Appalachian State, North Carolina, East Tennessee State and Norther Kentucky. The Seminoles placed four runners in the top 10 to outdistance the runner-up host Mountaineers, 38-46 for the team title.
The 10th-ranked Florida State men put four runners across the line in the first 11 positions to beat the field with a 35-point total. Appalachian State was second with 41 points. First-year Seminole Paul Lagno ran out of real estate with a closing kick which left him second overall in 25:15.2 over 8 kilometers. Senior Breandan O Neill and redshirt freshman Will Bridges were fourth and fifth in 25:23.9 and 25:25.6, respectively.
"I thought we did a pretty good job," FSU men's coach Bob Braman said. "It was hot. When the girls ran it was worse than the guys. ... We did exactly what we tried to do: go out easy and lift a little in the end."
With the temperature in the mid-80s - unseasonably warm for the North Carolina mountains - and the humidity up, the conditions were less than ideal for turning out impressive times in a season-opening venture.
The good news is the overall depth both teams demonstrated as both Harvey and Braman elected to put the majority of their most seasoned runners through a tempo run, rather than roll out their full squads. Veteran women's standouts - seniors Amanda Winslow, Violah Lagat and Kayleigh Tyerman, and sophomores Colleen Quigley and Aubree Worden - provided moral support for their teammates on the course.
Hall, a native of Melbourne, Australia, posted the first collegiate victory of her career in 18:14.3 over the 5-kilometer course, edging Butler by .4 at the line. It was the Seminole debut for Butler, a graduate student who starred at the University of Tampa, with a year of eligibility remaining. Another first-year Seminole, freshman Carly Thomas, finished sixth overall in 18:44.8.
"I was thrilled to see a really improved Linden Hall race today," Harvey said. "What a transformation from last fall. Our newcomers Jessica Butler and Carly Thomas competed hard and wore their FSU colors proudly"
Lagno, a graduate student comes to FSU after a distinguished career at Albany University, nearly pulled off the win in his debut. He came up less than two seconds shy of unattached runner Chris Moen (25:13.8) with a furious kick over the final 150 meters at the State Farm Course.
Like the women, Braman chose to put a group of runners through a tempo workout instead of the race. Senior Wes Rickman and junior Jakub Zivec - veterans of the last two NCAA teams - were joined by touted freshman Zak Seddon, sophomore AJ del Valle and freshman Chris Godwin in a support role after their workout.
Redshirt junior Josh Gracia, a transfer from Oklahoma, was 11th overall in his FSU debut (25:39.4), followed by senior All-American David Forrester (18th, 26:08.0) to round out the Seminole scorers. Junior Sean Quinn (20th, 26:14.5), redshirt freshman Daniel Millay (22nd, 26:16.2) and redshirt sophomore Michael Wallace (26:19.0) rounded out the FSU competitors.
Overall, Braman walked away from the lid-lifter quite pleased with what he had seen.
"We've got a little bit of depth," Braman said. "We've got some pieces."
Both teams will take advantage of the long Labor Day weekend and train in the cooler climate before returning home.