Tallahassee, FL - The Florida State men’s and women’s cross country teams both finished in third place in their respective races in Friday’s Notre Dame Invitational.
The way that both squads got there, however, is a different story.
While the No. 23 men’s team went out and performed from start to finish without much ado, women’s coach Karen Harvey was at a loss for words at the conclusion of her team’s race. In fact, in all her years of coaching, Harvey had never experienced anything like what took place Friday in South Bend, Ind.
“Both of my top two runners fell,” Harvey said. “It was something that I had never seen before. Both Pilar McShine and Pasca Cheruiyot fell. Those are our top two and I have never see that happen. Despite all of that, we were still able to finish well but we could have done so much better.”
As a group, the No. 2-ranked women got out to a great start before McShine fell within the first 100 meters. By falling, McShine not only dropped back from her teammates but slid all the way to the very last spot out of 194 runners.
Miraculously, though, FSU’s leader did the unthinkable and charged back. At race’s end, the Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago native had fought and willed her all the way back to a remarkable 15th place – a spot that was first amongst FSU women.
“I thought we were in real trouble when I saw that she was dead last at 600 meters,” Harvey said about McShine, who finished with a time of 16:56. “I thought there was no way she would get up. Not only did she get up but she passed all but 14 runners of the entire field in just 17 minutes.
“That is honestly one of the most truly inspiring races I have ever seen.”
As for the rest of the Seminoles, Amanda Winslow’s time of 17:05 earned a 20th place finish. Jessica Parry (17:09) came in 23rd, Jennifer Dunn (17:22) finished in 34th, and Cheruiyot – despite her file at a mile and a half in – rounded out FSU’s top four by coming in 37th with a 17:23 mark.
“So many things went wrong today but we still had an opportunity,” Harvey said. “I told the girls that I think this all happened for a reason. They need to use what Pilar did as motivation from here on out.”
On the men’s side, things certainly weren’t as dramatic.
Mike Fout paced head coach Bob Braman’s team with a ninth place finish thanks to a time of 24:08.
“The guys really competed very well,” Braman said. “Fout finishing in the top in that caliber of meet is an All-American type performance.”
Joining Fout at the top of the pack were three of his FSU teammates in the top 20. David Forrester finished 16th with a 24:15 and Alex Smyth was right behind with a 17th place finish on a 24:16 race-time.
Wes Rickman ended the evening in the No. 19 position with a time of 24:17.
“The first four did a great job,” Braman said. “Obviously we would have liked to see our seniors Ciaran O’Lionaird and Matt Leeder up there but the good news is that we have two veterans that can be our fifth scored guys and that is huge. Both those guys are All-ACC runners so we are going to be fine.”
In addition to being pleased with how each of his student-athletes performed, Braman is also pleased by the fact that the outcome may result in the shifting of the national and regional polls.
“This will probably put us in the top 12,” Braman said. “The main thing was generating points. Alabama was the top team in our region and we took them apart. I think our performance up here will be enough to make us be considered the top team in the region.”
The regional and national rankings will come out early next week.
FSU will next be in action in the lone home meet of the year. The Florida State Invitational will take place Oct. 8 and 9 at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee.