Nov. 23, 2013
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Junior Colleen Quigley delivered one of the finest performances in Florida State women's cross country history Saturday, placing sixth at the NCAA Championships to pace the Seminoles to an eighth-place team finish.
In frigid and muddy conditions, Quigley got to the front of the pack early and ran in the top 10 throughout, before securing the fourth-best finish by an FSU athlete - male or female - at the NCAA Championships.
"I definitely felt like it was my strongest race of the season," Quigley said. "I hadn't had that day where I just felt like Colleen Quigley (previously this season). I felt really strong; I felt really confident. Today I got out and stayed in the top 10 almost the entire time.
"I ran against my old Missouri friend Emily Sisson (from Providence) almost the whole entire race and I finally felt like that I had come into my own for the first time the whole season. That felt really good."
Returning to her Midwestern roots, the St. Louis native showed no signs of the problems that befell many on a day when the wind-chill factor dipped into the single digits. A quagmire - the result of rain over the last week - forced meet officials to move the starting line 110 meters on the LaVern Gibson Championship Course for safety reasons. Quigley was the highest placing individual for either the women or men from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
"Colleen followed the entire race plan," FSU women's coach Karen Harvey said. "She went out hard. Even though she didn't feel comfortable, even though she was worried, she just stuck to it and gutted it out. It paid off. After the 3k she was racing the top people ... She got to have a real race and run at the front. How she handled the last kilometer was (impressive). She was hurting but she fought hard, she dug down and I'm extremely happy for her."
Quigley became the first Seminole to register a top 10-finish individual finish since Pilar McShine was ninth in 2010. Only former Seminole star Susan Kuijken, who sandwiched third-place finishes in 2007 and 2009 around a runner-up showing in 2008, ever finished better. After finishing 12th as a sophomore last season, Quigley earned All-American honors for the second consecutive year and the fifth time in her cross country and track career at FSU.
Collectively, the fourth-ranked Seminoles came into the meet seeking a sixth consecutive podium finish, which is reserved for the top four spots. In addition to Quigley, the `Noles received a few game performances, but settled for eighth with 278 points.
Top-ranked Providence won the team title with 141 points, followed by Arizona (197), Butler (200), Michigan (215), Georgetown (226), Michigan State (236) and Colorado (265).
Junior Linden Hall placed 48th as FSU's No. 2 finisher, followed by junior Hannah Walker (98th) and sophomores Pippa Woolven (106) and Carly Thomas (122). Freshman Anna Holdiman was 125th. All five were making their NCAA Cross Country Championships debut. Sophomore Georgia Peel rounded out the Seminole finishers (191).
"Colleen ran out of her mind," Harvey said. "Linden ran really well, especially since she has never been at this meet before. Carly fell down, got up and raced hard. ... Anna ran very well for a freshman and I'm excited about her future."
Still, the `Noles simply did not get the lower-stick scoring performances from several runners, which could have improved the team finish. Difficult footing and stiff winds placed a premium on getting out quickly at the start as there was very little movement through the pack from the midway point to the finish.
"I'm grateful that they get to redeem that next year because we're bringing everybody back, and we'll add a few," Harvey said. "This place, this result, is not who we are. We're not going to believe it and we're going to take it and remind ourselves that next year we're all coming back experienced - all of us. We're just going to learn from it. It hurts right now, but we've got to move on."
In the men's race, which preceded the women, Florida State's lone entry Bryant Blahnik finished 220th in his NCAA Championship debut.