TALLAHASSEE, Fla.– The Apalachee Regional Park cross country course was the big winner Friday night at the 41st annual FSU Invitational as record-setting marks were posted by the women’s and men’s winners in the first race on the upgraded course.
Florida State junior Colleen Quigley led a parade of teammates through the downhill finishing chute, shattering the previous 5,000-meter course record by 35 seconds with a winning time of 16:55.53. Quigley was the first of five consecutive FSU teammates to finish, leading to a perfect, 15-point winning team total for the Seminoles.
Florida A&M‘s Elias Chesire also took down the men’s 8,000-meter course record, leading a 1-2-3 sweep of the top spots by the meet-winning Rattlers. Chesire’s team of 24:39.10 nipped the old course record by a scant .90 seconds.
With four of the top six finishers, the Rattlers edged the Seminole men 32-43 for the team title.
Florida graduate student Sean Quinn paced the Seminoles with a lifetime-best time of 25:05.27 to place fifth. FSU freshmen Grant Nykaza and Avery Lopez finished seventh and eighth, respectively, in 25:14.05 and 25:20.49. Teammate Kemper Morton closed strong to finish ninth ( 25:30.28) and Max del Monte (14th, 26:04.85) rounded out the scoring `Noles.
“Our young guys and our old guys – a couple of fifth-year seniors in Quinn and Kemper – did a real nice job,” Florida men’s coach Bob Braman said. “I’m real pleased with the effort of the guys. You’ve got Quinn, Grant and Avery who are chasing a conference and a Pre-National spot. We need them to step up. …
“The momentum seems to be going forward and they ran with a lot more confidence on this course.”
While Braman sat out his top five in preparation for next week’s Pre-National meet on the NCAA course at Indiana State, women’s coach Karen Harvey put her A-team in uniform and instructed her top six to run controlled through the first two miles before blasting away over the final mile.
Quigley was the leader of that charge as the group moved through the pack with Hannah Walker (2nd, 16:59.95),Linden Hall (3rd, 17:04.20) and Georgia Peel (4th, 17:09.49) in tow.
Racing from the gun, freshman Anna Holdiman bounced back from a sub-par performance at Notre Dame to nab fifth place (17:30.39) and complete the sweep. Jessica Butler, who also raced the entire way, was seventh (17:36.25), while Carly Thomas was ninth (17:37.42) and Chelsi Woodruff finished 10th (18:10.25). Thomas was also part of the workout group.
“Our workout group was phenomenal,” Harvey said. “They really tore it up that last mile and practiced that last 400 that is going to need to be awesome at NCAA’s.
“I saw Jessica Butler and Anna massively improve from Notre Dame and they needed that; they needed some confidence. We need them. They’re getting better for ACC’s. Chelsi (Woodruff) was back in the lineup and Teresa Ristow. They’re all an important part.”
Harvey was also ecstatic over the performance of the Seminoles’ B-team.
“Right through 32 (finishers), this is probably the best 32 we’ve ever had in the history of the program,” Harvey said. “It’s the best attitude. They all kicked it in. It was just nice to see us all in the huddle today, going out there and representing Florida State.”
Friday’s races served notice that Saturday’s high school action should be fast in furious over the re-worked course, with the 10-race affair getting started at 7:45 a.m.
“It was a really good day all around,” Braman said. “The meet was very well run, the officials did a good job and the course ran well. It’s going to get faster. The wooded parts are just spectacular – they’re running like a track – and the first two fields will get better.”
“It was a great night; a great crowd,” Harvey said. “The course? I can’t even believe it. This is an NCAA course.”