FSU Women Claim Fifth Consecutive ACC Title

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Blacksburg, VA - On the eve of Saturday’s Atlantic Coast Conference Championship meet, Florida State senior co-captain Violah Lagat shared with coach Karen Harvey one goal she had been keeping to herself.

“Since the beginning of the season my goal was to win ACC’s because I knew this was my last time representing FSU at the ACC Championship,” Lagat said. “Also, I knew that it had been two years since someone from FSU had won the ACC [individual title], so I wanted to come and break that.”

Lagat met her goal, pulling away from the field Saturday at Virginia Tech’s Smithfield Plantation cross country course and leading the Seminoles their fifth consecutive ACC women’s cross country title. She covered the 6-kilometer course in a course-record time of 20:00.1, with several of her Seminole teammates in close pursuit.
Florida State placed all five of its scoring runners in the top 14 spots and easily out-distanced runner-up Duke, 35-67.

“This is obviously a big goal,” Harvey said of the team title. “It’s not our primary goal, but it was a big goal to defend the conference title and then to have Violah Lagat take that individual title.

“She was talking about it the night before the race, just saying, ‘I want to end the drought, coach. I want to end the drought.’ And she was serious. I’ve been very blessed to coach a lot of great people and I think that was Susan Kuijken-like good. I’m really excited about her going into nationals. She is really coming on.”

Kuijken was the last Seminole to win the ACC individual title when she collected her third consecutive crown in 2009.

The Seminoles very nearly had a sweep of the individual titles as senior Breandan O Neill stuck with the lead pack in the men’s race before settling for a runner-up finish in 23:42.2 over the 8-kilometer course. The Florida State men reluctantly settled for third in one of the most hotly contested team title pursuits in years, with host Virginia Tech squeezing out the team win with 55 points. Virginia was second with 61, followed by the Seminoles a point back at 62.

“I felt like we competed pretty well today,” FSU men’s coach Bob Braman said. “Obviously it was a real good job for Brendo, Dave [Forrester], Wes [Rickman] and Seth [Proctor]. Did we have a few points out there that we could have had? Yes.

“To win the race we needed a healthy Kuba [Jakub Zivec], and he wasn’t healthy.”

While O Neill led the men’s charge, the Seminoles received strong performances from a pair of senior veterans who have gradually been on the mend throughout the season. Racing for the first time in a month, Forrester finished 12th with Zivec, FSU’s top runner throughout the preseason, right on his heels in 13th despite a tender foot. Those two earned All-ACC honors, along with O Neill, while Rickman finished one spot out of the running in 15th-place. It was Rickman’s best competitive performance in nearly two cross country seasons.

“At the end of the day Virginia Tech ran extraordinarily well and Virginia ran really well,” Braman said. “It was kind of hard to fault the effort. The course was really tough and home course advantage is really an advantage when it’s hilly.”

Though the FSU women did not dominate in the same fashion they had in 2011, when they tied the ACC meet record for the fewest points (20) in victory, the Seminoles were never really threatened. The nation’s top-ranked team got out quickly on the course with seniors Kayleigh Tyerman and Amanda Winslow, along with sophomore Colleen Quigley, teaming up with Lagat in a huge lead pack.

“We can’t forget that three other people helped her [Lagat] stay up there,” Harvey said. “It wasn’t just a one woman show. Now, after 4k it was, but she had her teammates there.”

Each took a turn at the front of the pack before Lagat opened up the throttle – and a lead – with just over one kilometer remaining. At that point the outcome was a matter of Lagat re-confirming her commitment to being an elite cross country runner, something she had never really done before the start of her senior season.

“I had to work on that the whole summer, looking at myself doing well [in cross country], being an All-American and winning ACC’s,” said Lagat, who had always thought of herself as a middle distance runner. “I had to prepare myself mentally and physically.

“The girls help a lot. It doesn’t just start in the race, it starts from the workouts. Every time we know we have a hard workout the girls come in and help me and push me to get out of my comfort zone. They’re always there to push me. … and having my teammates run beside me means everything, because it gives me the confidence to know that I’ve been doing this in the workout with my teammates.”

Lagat flashed her middle-distance speed in the closing stages, leaving no doubt as to the outcome. Quigley and Tyerman chased Lagat across the finish line in fourth and fifth place, while Winslow placed 11th. In her ACC debut, freshman Georgia Peel was the fifth and final scoring Seminole, placing 14th overall to grab the final All-ACC slot.

“Georgia Peel saved the day, coming up for our fifth spot when Jessica Parry was having a rough day,” Harvey said. “She really proved that if we need her to be, she can be our fifth runner.”

Harvey also learned that fifth-year senior Jennifer Dunn, who enjoyed her best performance (24th overall) since narrowly missing All-America honors at the 2010 NCAA Championships, is back on track.

ACC Women’s Team Results
1. Florida State 35
2. Duke 67
3. Boston College 82
4. NC State 86
5. North Carolina 152
6. Virginia 170
7. Clemson 191
8. Wake Forest 222
9. Georgia Tech 258
10. Virginia Tech 260
11. Maryland 296
12. Miami 350

Florida State women
1. Violah Lagat 20:00.1
4. Colleen Quigley 20:17.6
5. Kayleigh Tyerman 20:20.1
11. Amanda Winslow 20:43.7
14. Georgia Peel 20:52.5
24. Jennifer Dunn 21:13.3
25. Jessica Parry 21:15.1
28. Carly Thomas 21:18.8
37. Aubree Worden 21:41.4
90. Jessica Butler 24:04.9

ACC Men’s Team Results
1. Virginia Tech 55
2. Virginia 61
3. Florida State 62
4. NC State 74
5. Duke 112
6. North Carolina 149
7. Wake Forest 209
8. Boston College 246
9. Georgia Tech 272
10. Clemson 280
11. Miami 342

Florida State men
2. Breandan O Neill 23:42.2
12. David Forrester 24:12.1
13. Jakub Zivec 24:14.8
15. Wes Rickman 24:17.7
20. Seth Proctor 24:29.9
26. Paul Lagno 24:39.7
27. Will Bridges 24:40.1
43. Josh Gracia 25:02.9
87. Zak Seddon 26:25.6
93. Sean Quinn 26:44.9

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