TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Not only is cross country/track & field head coach Bob Braman attracting the best athletes to Florida State, but now some of the best coaches in the country want to work with the Seminoles. Just in time for the 2007 cross country season, former Illinois women's head cross country coach Karen Harvey has joined the Florida State staff as assistant track and field/cross country coach.
"I'm just really excited to hire someone of Karen's caliber," Braman said. "She is the top female cross country coach in America and a fantastic role model for our ladies. She's the missing ingredient to making our women's track and field and cross country programs into national contenders. Her background as an elite athlete and her coaching record in five short years at Illinois displays how great of a coach she is and we're excited for her to be here."
Over the last five years, Harvey has turned the Illini into one of the best cross country programs in the country. The last two seasons Illinois has posted top 10 finishes at the NCAA Championships with an eighth-place showing last year after a fifth-place finish in 2005, the second-highest finish in school history. The team made its first appearances under her watch in 2004 and finished 20th.
During the 2006 campaign, the Illinois made history as it captured the program's first NCAA Midwest Regional crown. In the process, Harvey was named Midwest Region Coach of the Year by the USTFCCCA. Freshman Angela Bizzarri finished 24th at the NCAA Championships to give Illinois its third All-American in the last two seasons.
Accolades have been the norm for Havey's runners the last three years. Her star pupil has been Cassie Hunt, an All-American in cross country (2005), outdoor track (3000m steeplechase - 2004) and indoor track (3000m - 2005). Hunt won the 2005 Big Ten Cross Country title and was named Big Ten Athlete of the Year and Athlete of the Championship - a first for an Illinois runner. During the 2005 outdoor season she won the steeplechase and 5000m at the Big Ten outdoor meet to claim Athlete of the Year and Championships.
"I was very impressed when I came down on my interview; I was awestruck by the facilities," Harvey said. I really felt a connection with coach Braman and his entire staff. In one of the emails I exchanged with him he said the staff works as a team. That is the kind of atmosphere I was looking for and right then I knew that Florida State is some place I wanted to be."
In addition to her coaching acumen, Harvey has outstanding credentials from her own running career. At the 1998 Mt. SAC Relays she took over the number one spot in the world with a time of 10:19.6 in the 3000m steeplechase. She was a nine-time member of the Canadian National Team, including the 1998 squad where she finished fifth in the steeplechase at the Goodwill Games.
A 1996 graduate of Michigan with a degree in anthropology, Harvey was a three-time All-American for the Wolverines, earning honors in cross country (1992) and indoor track (mile - 1994 & 3000m - 1995). A native of Brantford, Ontario, she is married to four-time NCAA Champion and 2000 Olympian Kevin Sullivan.
Harvey will mainly work with the Florida State women's squad that is coming off a 21st-place finish at the NCAA Championships. The Seminoles will be a very experienced squad in 2007 with five runners back from the NCAA squad including All-America selection Susan Kuijken and four seniors.
"I'm inheriting an amazing team," Harvey said. "Bob has done a lot of hard work and this is going to be the best team FSU has had. I hope to have everyone at their potential and running healthy."
Florida State opens the season on August 31 with the Covered Bridge Open then comes home to host the FSU Invitational, September 22.
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