By Coach Bob Braman
After a low-key opening meet at Appalachian State University where both the men and women’s cross country teams finished third, the Seminoles returned home for their annual showdown with the Gators. Unlike the first meet, where the emphasis was on an extended training weekend in the mountains, the Seminole Invitational proved to be a good early season test.
The men recorded a strong 24 to 53 point win over the Gators, a “Herb-Wills-Era-like” margin of victory. Eight FSU men beat UF’s number three runner. A much closer battle was expected, but the locals clearly pumped up the Seminoles on their home turf (the lovely Miccosukee Greenway). Auburn transfer and West Palm native, Giscard Titus, led the Seminole Harriers with his third place overall finish and first collegian placing. Last year’s MVP Joep Tigchelaar (from the Netherlands) was hot on his heels in 5th place. A pair of Lyman High School (Longwood, Florida) graduates ran strong races as number three and four runners. Junior Nate Adams was sixth overall, while freshman Kevin Cook placed tenth. Kevin’s father, Donny Cook, was FSU’s number one cross country runner during the ‘ 76 to ‘ 78 era. Junior Dutchman Maarten van den Heuvel completed the Noles scoring in 12th place.
The Lady Seminoles finished third behind a strong Mississippi State squad and number seven ranked NCAA Division II power, North Florida. FSU’s Vicky Gill (Lancashire, England) was the overall winner by over 40 seconds but ran unattached due to her summer school classes not posting yet. (They ended up A’s of course.) With Vicky’s finish included in the scoring the ladies would’ve recorded a 10 point win. Sophomore 1500m All-American Natalie Hughes (Grand Junction, Co.) showed surprising early-season form to take third place overall, while walk-on Anne Clinton continued her breakthrough cross country campaign with an impressive eighth place finish. Senior Misty Harper (Seminole, Fla.) ran stride for stride with Anne to finish in ninth place. Freshman Jenny Gomez (Miami, Fla.) cracked the top 20 with her 19th place finish to complete the scoring for the Lady Noles.
Both teams travel this weekend (Sept 26-27) to the Great American Classic in Charlotte, North Carolina. This weekend marks the first weekend that results will be considered for at-large consideration for the NCAA Championships (November 25 @ Terre Haute, Indiana). The women’s competition will be phenomenal, with the nation’s top three teams competing and six of the top ten. The men’s side features three top ten teams and six in the top 20. Solid performances at Great American could vault FSU’s teams into the national rankings. Results should be posted at FSUTrack.com by late Saturday evening.