Tallahassee, FL - After several months of training, the Florida State cross country teams (Men- No. 21/ Women- No. 6) will have its first championship meet Saturday, October 31, at the 2009 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships in Cary, N.C. Host NC State will welcome 12 schools to the WakeMed Soccer Park Course including two other programs that have both their men and women nationally ranked- Duke (Men- No. 26/Women- No. 16) and Virginia (Men- No. 12/Women- No. 11).
The 56th annual men's 8K will kick off at 9:30 a.m. Slated to guide the `Noles will be team captains Daniel Roberts and Matt Leeder with junior transfer Ciaran O'Lionard and freshmen Wes Rickman and Jared Bell taking their lead. Veterans Justin Harbor, Tyler Price, Jacob Brooks and Nick Maedel are also expected to post points for FSU while Michael Fout looks to continue to build up his strength after making his first season appearance two weeks ago.
"The cross country ACC Championships are a lot like the basketball championships in the sense that you want to win but you are also really concerned about regionals and nationals. It has always been a really tough part of the year for us. If you want to be the best in the sport of cross country you have to get rest. You can do that and go for the ACC title or you can rest and be your strongest when you're trying to qualify for nationals. We have always tried to find a balance between those," men's head coach Bob Braman said.
"We have been runner up in four of the past six years. I think we have put too much emphasis on winning it. We have gotten way too excited for it. We will go out like we have for every race this year which is put really good effort in and put ourselves in a position to win," Coach Braman added.
Coach Braman looks to better 2008's fourth-place performance in which the `Noles placed two runners in the top 15 and scored 80 points. Leeder paced the Seminoles last season and earned All-ACC honors for his seventh-place finish with a time of 24:35.5.
The Seminole women enter the 6K at 10:30 a.m. favored to win for the third consecutive season with team captain Susan Kuijken leading the pack. As Kuijken will be pacing the `Noles, co-captain Pilar McShine and newcomer Pasca Cheruiyot are projected to be quickly following the senior. In their first conference championships, freshmen Amanda Winslow, Jessica Parry and junior transfer Andrea Palen look to post points while veterans Amanda Quick, Christina Woytalewicz and Kacey Gibson also look to finish in the top 15.
"This is a pretty big weekend for us," women's head coach Karen Harvey said. "It's got that excitement and nerves to it. You would have to be on the team to understand how many bumps we have been through. I've asked for a while where is that No. 1 team we've had? Well it is finally here. We are finally healthy. We are going to go on full force and it is going to be exciting. I've just got to get them all to the line. This is an awesome team."
"I am going to tell Susan and Pilar not to hold back. I am going to tell them to challenge themselves. This is Susan's last ACC Championships so we are going to let her do it. We are excited and she has been an amazing captain. This one is an emotional one and it's for Florida State pride."
After dominating the FSU Invitational with a first-place finish and battling at the pre-national meet two weeks ago, sophomore Jennifer Dunn earned a spot on the travel list and will be making her first trip to the league race.
"I think we can have all five runners in the top 10." Coach Harvey said. "It is going to be really hard because Virginia and Duke are much improved teams. We know it's going to be a battlefield. This team is way better than its showing because no one has seen us healthy."
The two-time defending women's champions crushed the competition in 2008 posting five runners in the top 10. Kuijken led the Garnet and Gold with a first-place finish (20:11.0) while McShine finished in sixth place with a time of 20:43.0. All five runners were named to the All-ACC list for their impressive finishes.