By David Yon


I have lived in Tallahassee since 1974 and been an avid follower of FSU sports for at least that long. And while there have been lots of great moments when it came to sports in general, distance running has been – well, to be blunt – awful, occasionally interrupted by mediocre. A new sheriff has come to town, though, and the FSU cross country program is making a real effort to become something special. And I am pleased to say not just by running faster, but also by promoting running in the community at large.

It started when assistant coach Paul Spangler showed up joined GWTC and started participating in local races and on the GWIND list. The effort took a major step forward when FSU persuaded former University of South Florida Coach Bob Braman to take over the program. Now we see charity runs across the state, athletes working GWTC road races and a wonderful Invitational featuring high school races, college runners and an open race. Coach Braman built a community-based program during his 17 years at South Florida that was competitive on a national level. He has brought this same approach to Florida State and with it more quality distance runners at FSU than I can remember since Herb Wills ran for FSU.

For the second year, the Seminole Cross Country High School Invitational and Intercollegiate Cross Country Championships were run at the Miccosukee Greenway Park on a beautiful course and gorgeous day. There were 22 men’s and 19 women’s collegiate teams, 29 boys and 26 girls high school teams participating. The grand total of runners participating was just under 1000. The course was reasonably quick and very spectator friendly. The only group complaining about the event were the geese who seemed determined to let all of Tallahassee know that this beautiful piece of property along Miccosukee road belonged to them and that the runners had very rudely interrupted their routine. But hey, it sure was better than having the hunters doing it.

The top three men’s teams battling in the 8K college race were FSU, the University of Florida and USF. Early on it looked like FSU would take its own meet by a wide margin. Florida though was very patient and as the last mile rolled around the Florida runners took charge and captured the meet 30 to 39 over FSU, scoring on a combined bases. Third place went to North Florida with a total of 115 points. On the women’s side the 6K race was even tighter as FSU was just nipped by South Florida 38 to 41. Florida was third with 71 points. Zepherinus Joseph from North Florida took the men’s race in 24:23, while Vicky Gill, running as an open participant, won the women’s race in 20:47. Ms. Gill will be eligible to run for FSU’s next race. GWTC member Kate Remillard ran with the big dogs and did quite well. Kate’s time of 22:46 earned her 20th place.

Lee Yaracs, 3A Ridgeview High School, won the high school boys race with an outstanding time of 14:50, the fastest time (that I can find) in the state of Florida this year. The girls race was won by Chiles’ Zita Magloire in 18:07. Zita was a speaker at the last GWTC high school lecture program and 2001 Chenoweth Fund Track Athlete of the Year. Ridgeview High School took the team race for the boys and Estero High School won the girls division. Herbie Thiele, 15:38, from Chiles, was the first local finisher in the boys race. And Judy Alexander made her coaching debut on behalf of North Florida Christian by watching one of her new harriers, Kerry Heinz, win the girls JV race by running 21:32.

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