Sept. 19, 2013
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Pilgrimage's to the site of the ACC Cross Country Championships have become an annual ritual for the Florida State men's and women's teams. The Seminoles will get their first look at the 2013 course in Kernersville, N.C. Friday when they compete in the Wake Forest Invitational/Pre-ACC meet.
From a competitive standpoint, the meet has limited value. Karen Harvey's second-ranked women and Bob Braman's 23rd-ranked men will be in a field that includes ACC teams Wake Forest and Clemson, along with Davidson, Ohio University and Miami (Ohio). The greater value is getting a first look at the multi-loop 6k and 8k layouts at Beeson Park in Kernersville, N.C., where the first 15-team ACC Championship meet will be contested on Nov. 1.
"We are going to actually race five ladies and let them get after it start to finish," Harvey said. "The rest will do a controlled workout. I feel like between the two groups we will be able to gather some valuable info about their current fitness and the ACC course."
Entering her seventh season at the helm of the FSU women, Harvey's Seminoles have a vested interest in acquiring as much course knowledge as possible. Her team has taken home the ACC Championship trophy each of the last six seasons. The addition perennial powers Notre Dame and Syracuse to the league lineup, plus the rise of Duke on the national scene, figure to make the 2013 championship meet one of the most competitive yet.
"We want to start seeing who is willing to step up on race day and race strong with the FSU jersey on," said Harvey, who returns just two runners from last year's fourth-place NCAA Championship lineup. "We are constantly looking to build and press the team's overall talent thru 10. There are lots of different parts to do that."
Braman's squad is facing a similar makeover. Though the men also return to runners from last season's lineup, neither 2012 All-American Jakub Zivec or Zak Seddon is scheduled to compete Friday. Of the Seminoles slated to toe the starting line, veteran transfers Matt Mizereck and Bryant Blahnik - who have earned All-SEC honors while running at Florida and Missouri, respectively - will be running in FSU jerseys for the first time. Cornell transfer Kevin Johnson and talented Australian newcomer Glen Yarham, will compete, along with returnees Josh Gracia, Will Bridges and Sean Quinn.
"We've got to get out on the course and run at a really high intensity," Braman said. "It's not going to be intensity of the ACC meet or Notre Dame. You get a better barometer in October of what your team is like, but I think it is important that we have our game-face on when we get out there and we do compete within our plan on the course.
"We'll probably have a conservative race plan the first half of the race and then try to race hard the second half."
Despite its location in the Piedmont area of North Carolina, the Beeson Park property is relatively flat, though there is a greater concern by the coaches for just how the multi-loop layout will run.
"It will be a little bit about the competition," Braman said. "It will be more about us and what we can do on that course.
"It has become a real conference tool for us, to give us a chance to be as good as we can be. Familiarity with the course is huge. You don't want to have to use a lot of your energy thinking during the championship. You want to know where the soft spots, good spots, challenging spots are, even on a flat course as this one appears to be."
The Seminole women are scheduled to race at 5:30 p.m. over the 6k course, with the men taking the gun for the 8k race at 6:15 p.m.
The Wake Forest Invitational/Pre-ACC meet will also mark the final preliminary race of the season. The Seminoles will head to South Bend, Ind. for the Oct. 5 Notre Dame Invitational, which will be their first competition with valuable NCAA at-large points on the line.
Coverage of the meet, with complete race results, will be available at www.seminoles.com at the conclusion of Friday's competition. Fans can also receive periodic updates via Twitter @FSU_XCountry.