Florida State Men's Cross Country - 2016 Year In Review
Bob Braman, Head Coach
Michael Barbee, Director of Operations
Emma Reed, Graduate Assistant
Remy Tamer, Volunteer Assistant
Click here to see indivual mug shots
Humberto Freiere, Miami
2016 Roster - By Name
R Name Cl Ltr Hometown (Prior School)
* Ibrahim Ahmed Sr-R Saint Catharines, Ontario, Canada (Saint Francis/Southern Utah)
Christian Aman Fr-R Lake Mary (Lake Mary)
Tyler Bennett Jr Fort Myers (Fort Myers/North Florida)
Jake Burton Sr-R Stuart (Martin County)
Matt Butler Jr Fort Lauderdale (Saint Thomas Aquinas)
* Michael Callegari Jr London, England (Saint Mary's)
* Steven Cross Fr Merritt Island (Merritt Island)
* Abdin Fator Sr Tampa (Sickles)
Humberto Freiere Fr Miami (Columbus)
* Michael Hall Jr ** Cincinnati, OH (Saint Xavier)
* Bryce Kelley Jr-R ** Hope Valley, RI (Chariho)
Matt Magee Jr-R Lutz (Steinbrenner)
* Harry Mulenga Sr * Chililabombwe, Zambia (Chililabombwe/Central Arizona CC)
* Tyson Murray Fr-R Tallahassee (Chiles)
Ben Najman Jr Freeport, Bahamas (Bishop Michael Eldon/Allen Community College)
* Grant Nykaza Jr-R ** Beecher, IL (Beecher)
Hunter Scott Fr-R Tallahassee (Leon)
* Brandon Shemonia Sr-R Scott City, MO (Scott City/Southern Illinois)
* Will Simons Fr-R Hartland, WI (Arrowhead)
2016 Schedule and Results
|COVERED BRIDGE OPEN
|ADIDAS XC CHALLENGE
|NOTRE DAME INVITATIONAL
Notre Dame, In
|FSU INVITATIONAL||1st Place|
|NCAA SOUTH REGION CHAMPIONSHIP||5th Place|
Terre Haute, In
Overall Home Away Neutral ------------------------------------------------ FSU RECORD IS 0- 0 0- 0 0- 0 0- 0
2016 ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE RESULTS 1 SYRACUSE 29 2 VIRGINIA 72 3 NORTH CAROLINA STATE 82 4 VIRGINIA TECH 128 5 FLORIDA STATE 134 6 NORTH CAROLINA 182 7 LOUISVILLE 203 8 GEORGIA TECH 224 9 PITTSBURGH 246 10 NOTRE DAME 257 11 DUKE 311 12 BOSTON COLLEGE 337 13 WAKE FOREST 345 14 CLEMSON 346 15 MIAMI 440
2016 EOY StatsTeam Overall Name Races Top 7 Top 10 Wins =============================================== Harry Mulenga 8 7 5 2 Brandon Shemonia 7 7 1 0 Steven Cross 6 6 2 0 Michael Hall 6 5 1 0 Tyson Murray 6 3 0 0 Michael Callegari 5 5 3 0 Grant Nykaza 5 5 1 0 Will Simons 5 3 1 0 Ibrahim Ahmed 4 4 3 0 Abdin Fator 4 3 0 0 Matt Magee 4 1 0 0 Bryce Kelley 3 2 0 0 Hunter Scott 3 1 0 0 Christian Aman 2 0 0 0
Baez, Mulenga Score Season-Opening Individual Victories.
FSU men second, women third at Covered Bridge Open.
BOONE, NC - Carmela Cardama Baez and Harry Mulenga gave the Florida State cross country teams a sweep of the individual race titles at Friday's season-opening Covered Bridge Invitational and the Seminole coaching staff came away from the debut performance encouraged about the season ahead.
As an encore to her breakout 2015 freshman season, Baez scored her first collegiate victory in 18:10.78 over the 5000-meter State Farm Fields/Kennedy Trails course, edging Florida senior Taylor Tubbs.
"It was nice to see Carmela win against some talented runners from Florida," said FSU women's coach Kelly Phillips, who happily welcomed back the sophomore Spaniard who missed the track & field season with an injury.
Mulenga, a senior, wheeled his was to a seven-second victory over the next closest competitor in 20:04.44 over 6400 meters.
"It was a year and a day ago that Harry had heart surgery and he looks like a champion again," FSU men's coach Bob Braman said. "He's going to have a monster year for us."
With Mulenga the lone runner in the lineup who was a part of last year's NCAA South Region championship team, FSU finished second to in-state rival Florida by a six-point margin and edged third-place host Appalachian State by two points.
"We did exactly what we came to do - open the season with a hard effort and train our tails off," Braman said. "I always want to win but we have to stick to the plan, and that means being ready to roll in November, not Labor Day weekend. I feel really good about this group."
A trio of transfer graduate students - Michael Callegari, Ibrahim Ahmed and Brandon Shemonia - followed Mulenga to the finish line. A transfer from St. Mary's University in the UK, Callegari was fourth in 20:15.93. Ahmed and Shemonia, who starred at Southern Utah and Southern Illinois last season, were 10th and 11th in 20:37.08 and 20:37.15, respectively.
"I thought the three grad students opened well and they all ran in their training flats," Braman said.
Redshirt freshman Tyson Murray, who was running alongside Ahmed and Shemonia late in the race, rounded out the fifth scoring spot in 26th place (20:55.52).
Abdin Fator (41st, 21:29.36), Matt Magee (53rd, 21:41.18) and Hunter Scott (67th, 22:11.88) also opened the season in the lineup for the Noles.
Much like Braman, Phillips was eager to see how her women's team would perform with a limited amount of experience. Five Seminoles were making their first appearances among the top seven.
"We came to get some racing experience for our young runners and they all did really well," said Phillips, whose team finished third behind Florida (28 points) and Appalachian State (49) with 86 points.
Freshman Hailey Hendry was the first Seminole behind Baez, placing 18th in her debut in 19:13.82. Sophomore Fatema Jaffer, the only other runner who was on last year's postseason roster, was a close 20th (19:16.40).
Junior Tara Rooney (23rd, 19:30.94) and redshirt sophomore Madison Harris (27th, 19:35.65) completed the scoring positions for the Noles, followed by Marianne Aguilar (31st, 19:41.71) and Claire Igoe (49th, 20:34.51).
MEN 6.4K RACE Place Name Points Time ===== ========================= ====== ======== 1 Harry Mulenga 1 20:04.44 4 Michael Callegari 4 20:15.93 10 Ibrahim Ahmed 10 20:37.08 11 Brandon Shemonia 11 20:37.15 26 Tyson Murray 26 20:55.52 41 Abdin Fator 34 21:29.36 43 Will Simons 36 21:30.95 53 Matt Magee 21:41.18 67 Hunter Scott 22:11.88
Seminole Men Win; Mulenga, Baez Post Runner-Up Finishes.
Coaches pleased with performance in ACC course preview.
CARY, NC - Competitive efforts on the course that will host the ACC Championships in late October was what Florida State cross country coaches Bob Braman and Kelly Phillips hoped to see at Friday's Adidas XC Challenge.
The Seminoles delivered on those expectations - and then some - with the FSU men carving out an impressive victory and the women finishing third, each against quality competition at the rolling WakeMed Course.
Race runner-up Harry Mulenga led a quartet of top 10 finishers for the Florida State men, who registered just 34 points to easily outdistance nationally-ranked Virginia and host NC State, who shared second with 66 points in a field of 12 NCAA Division I team.
A senior, Mulenga made a late push to catch Campbell's Lawrence Kipkoech over the 6000-meter course, but came up three seconds shy of a second consecutive title in 17:45.7. He was followed across the finish line by a trio of FSU newcomers - junior Michael Callegari, freshman Steven Cross and senior Ibrahim Ahmed - who occupied the fifth-seventh finishing positions to all but seal the deal. Senior Grant Nykaza's 16th-place finish did just that.
"I'm happy with my performance today," Mulenga said. "Our game plan was to run the first two miles and [based on] how you feel, then you can make your move or stay with the pack. I was feeling very comfortable, but that last one-[kilometer], 'OK, I'm going to kick up and see what I can do.'…
"I'm definitely excited about the team's performance. I'm so happy with everybody. We did a very good job. We did exactly what we came here to do…What we have right now is a strong team and we are capable of doing this late in the season."
Braman called the effort a "B-plus performance" but was careful not to over-hype the win, especially with a trip to the loaded Notre Dame Invitational looming on the horizon.
"I felt really, really good about it," Braman said. "What we don't want to do overrate the result, because it doesn't count for points…How do we match up for the middle September? Pretty good for a team that was ranked behind all those folks, but we can't say we had an easy win because they chose not to run it hard like we did, but I felt like that was the right thing for us to do."
Transfer veterans Callegari and Ahmed provided the kind of solid performances the Seminoles will need down the stretch, the most pleasant surprise came from Cross, who was competing in his first collegiate meet. The Florida high school standout from Merritt Island was sixth overall in 18:14.7.
"Cross did a great job," Braman said. "We've seen signs of this in practice and all summer, training with Harry. He has unusual strength for a freshman, to handle those collegiate requirements you don't get in high school - longer distances, hills, faster pace, higher competition. He's handling it really well. I just have to be smart with him."
While the men were packing up to secure the win behind Mulenga, the Seminole women were slightly more strung out behind their race runner-up, Carmela Cardama Baez. The sophomore from Spain, coming off a season-opening win at the Covered Bridge Open, cruised home in 16:53.7 over the 5000-meter course to finish 11 seconds behind individual champion Caroline Alcorta from North Carolina.
Running in a pack that included Alcorta and a trio of runners from fifth-ranked NC State, Baez was at the back end of the top 10 early before she found her competitive groove.
"I just focused on running to catch the girls in the next group and the next group," Baez said. "[The result] gives me confidence that I'm in good shape, but at the same time looking back at it, I could have run better."
Junior Bridget Blake, led a trio of Seminoles competing for the first time this season in ninth place (17:43.6), followed by freshman Megan Mooney (15th, 17:57.9) and senior transfer Catherine Blaney (20th, 18:01.0). Sophomore Fatema Jaffer finished 30th (18:29.5) to round out the FSU scoring with 76 points. Fifth-ranked NC State won on its home course with 40 points, followed by North Carolina (54).
"Carmela did a great job, and I thought the whole group ran well," second-year FSU coach Kelly Phillips said. "Having that many people being their first race, it could have been a catastrophe. I think they all see they raced well but they have a big job still ahead of them. That's kind of where their fitness is right now. We're still building."
Behind the scoring five, Hailey Hendry, Tara Rooney and Courteney West, who finished 34-36, followed by Marianne Aguilar in 40th. For Rooney and Aguilar, the race saw them take nearly 50 and 40 seconds, respectively, over their previous best 5000-meter cross country bests.
"I think they all came out of it with something to learn before ACC's," Phillips added. "We need to bring our 2-5 closer to No. 1, which I think is going to happen. Bridget Blake did a great job today, but she knows she is a lot better than that…
"Blaney, I would say overall, had the best race except Carmela. She's new to us and we're still not sure what she is going to bring to the table. I think they all did a nice job competing the second half of the race because they went out a little conservative. As they get stronger and we stay healthy, I think we'll be a pretty good team come the regional."
MEN 6K RACE Place Name Points Time ===== ========================= ====== ======== 2 Harry Mulenga 2 17:45.7 5 Michael Callegari 5 18:12.4 6 Steven Cross 6 18:14.7 7 Ibrahim Ahmed 7 18:16.6 16 Grant Nykaza 14 18:21.8 20 Michael Hall 18 18:31.5 27 Brandon Shemonia 24 18:44.7 39 Abdin Fator 18:58.7 40 Tyson Murray 19:01.9 41 Will Simons 19:06.6 54 Christian Aman 19:22.5 67 Matt Magee 19:51.1
Cardama Baez, Mulenga Lead Way At Notre Dame.
XC Noles have work to do after mid-pack finishes on Friday.
NOTRE DAME, IN - Florida State's cross country teams hoped to come away from Friday's Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational with a few wins over nationally-ranked competition in the first of four major regular season meets on the 2016 schedule.
Aside from a handful of encouraging individual performances, the Seminole women and men came away with a better understanding that there is still much work to be done before the championship portion of the season begins in late October.
Sophomore Carmela Cardama Baez finished 17th and freshman Megan Mooney used a lifetime-best 5000-meter cross country performance to edge junior Bridget Blake for the number two spot on the squad, placing 72nd and 74th, respectively.
The Seminoles finished 14th in the field of 24 with 396 points - well off coach Kelly Phillips' target - but still managed to defeat two-time NCAA South Region champion Vanderbilt (18th, 429), which is ranked 24th nationally and first in the region.
Ranked sixth in the South Region, the Noles edged No. 4 Alabama (15th, 402). Ole Miss, the No. 3 team in the South, led all region teams with a seventh-place finish (187). Providence, ranked No. 1 in the nation, edged No. 5 NC State for the team title.
On the week where the FSU men cracked the nationally rankings for the first time this season, the No. 30 Noles staggered home in 15th-place with a whopping 400 points.
Harry Mulenga continued his strong senior season, finishing 13th in the five-mile race (24:00.4). Graduate transfer Brandon Shemonia, who was sixth for the Seminoles at the Adidas XC Challenge two weeks ago, was the second FSU runner across the line in 59th-place (24:35.5).
Ole Miss, the Seminoles' chief rival in the South Region, ran away with the team title. Led by race winner Sean Tobin (23:31.9) the 20th-ranked Rebels scored 83 points to edge No. 18 UTEP (99). Ninth-ranked Eastern Kentucky was a distant third (168).
"We're a tired and banged up team right now, but I know we'll get better as the season progresses," FSU men's coach Bob Braman said. "Losing out No. 3 man [Ibrahim Ahmed} to an Achilles injury spread us thin, but then we were really behind the eight-ball when Steven Cross fell."
With things falling apart in mid-race the Noles were left to count scoring performances from Cross (102nd, 24:56.6), Michael Callegari (111th, 25:01.7) and Grant Nykaza (131st, 25:15.9) toward the team total.
"I liked our fight," Braman said. "It would've been easy to pack it in and make excuses but we kept fighting and that's a good sign. It's a tough sport. No one's going to feel sorry for you on tough days."
For the third consecutive race, Cardama Baez led the Seminoles. Despite not getting out quickly on the fast Burke Golf Course track, she finished in 16:45.3. Mooney shaved roughly 10 seconds off her previous 5000-meter best (17:23.3) and edged Blake (17:24.8) in the closing few meters.
Like the men, the women were forced to count some high sticks in the field of 184 finishers. Catherine Blaney (99th, 17:43.9) and Hailey Hendry (148th, 18:14.5) rounded out the Seminole scorers.
The Seminoles will return to action in some capacity at Friday's FSU Invitational, with the men's 8000-meter race set for 7:40 a.m. and the women to follow at 8:20 a.m. The meet will serve as a an interlude before the high-stakes Wisconsin Invitational in two weeks.
MEN 5-Mile RACE Place Name Points Time ===== ========================= ====== ======== 13 Harry Mulenga 13 24:00.4 59 Brandon Shemonia 59 24:35.5 102 Steven Cross 99 24:56.6 111 Michael Callegari 106 25:01.7 131 Grant Nykaza 123 25:16.3 144 Michael Hall 135 25:25.5 158 Abdin Fator 145 25:35.3 189 Tyson Murray 26:18.1
Sweeping Success At FSU Invitational.
TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida State men’s and women’s cross country teams swept the university division team titles Friday morning with strong showings despite controlled efforts at Apalachee Regional Park.
The Seminole men sent the first four runners across the finish line, with Harry Mulenga and Michael Callegari finishing 1-2 with identical 8000-meter times of 25:22.9, followed by Steven Cross (25:23.6) and Ibrahim Ahmed (25:24.5).
A pair of non-scoring unattached runners were the only thing standing in the way of the Noles claiming the first eight spots in the race as Brandon Shemonia (25:43.4), Grant Nykaza (25:46.1), Will Simons (25:54.9) and Michael Hall (25:59.2) claimed spots 7-10.
FSU’s men finished with a perfect score of 15 points, easily outdistancing South Florida (56) and Florida Atlantic (81) in the six-team field of NCAA Division I teams. It was the third consecutive team title for the Seminole men at the meet, which has been contested since 1972.
The Seminole women had a much more challenging time in wrestling the title away from defending champion Jacksonville and UCF. Bridget Blake was second overall (17:47.8) behind UCF’s Anne-Marie Blaney, who won her third consecutive meet title in a course-best 17:14.6.
Blake was backed by freshman Megan Mooney (eighth, 18:09.9), but the tightly-packed trio of Madison Harris (16th, 18:40.8), Catherine Blaney (17th, 18:42.7) and Fatema Jaffer (19th, 18:43.1) allowed the Seminoles to prevail.
FSU finished with 51 points, with UCF and Jacksonville taking second and third with matching 56-point totals.
Tara Rooney (28th, 19:03.2) and Jessica Lonas (29th, 19:03.2) rounded out FSU’s top seven, sealing the victory by displacing the fourth- and fifth-place runners from UCF and Jacksonville.
It was a solid performance given the goals of men’s coach Bob Braman and women’s counterpart Kelly Phillips, who have the Seminoles pointing toward next Friday’s Wisconsin Invitational, where strong finishes can enhance FSU’s NCAA Championships at-large resume.
MEN 8K RACE Place Name Points Time ===== ========================= ====== ======== 1 Harry Mulenga 1 25:22.9 2 Michael Callegari 2 25:22.9 3 Steven Cross 3 25:23.6 4 Ibrahim Ahmed 4 24:24.5 7 Brandon Shemonia 5 25:43.4 8 Grant Nykaza 6 25:46.1 9 Will Simons 7 25:54.9 10 Michael Hall 25:59.2 12 Tyson Murray 26:05.3 14 Bryce Kelley 26:25.8 17 Christian Aman 26:33.4 19 Matt Magee 26:44.2 38 Hunter Scott 27:38.5
Mulenga, Cardama Baez Post Elite Finishes At Wisco.
Top 25 finishes for front-runners facing nation's best.
MADISON, WI - Squaring off against the finest collection of NCAA Division I cross country runners at a single meet this season, Florida State's Harry Mulenga and Carmela Cardama Baez established themselves as All-American candidates with strong finishes at Friday's Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational.
Racing at the front of a field from the start, Mulenga finished 16th in the field of 209 runners to lead the Seminole men over the 8000-meter Thomas Zimmer Championship Course on a clear, breezy day. The senior from Zambia closed in 24:13.0, dramatically improving on his 66th-place finish at the same meet a year ago.
"It's so amazing seeing myself in the front pack," Mulenga said. "It's better than two weeks ago [at Notre Dame] and it's better than last year here, because last year when I came here at the three-mile mark, I was done. But this one, only with the last 800 to go, that's when the elite guys like Justyn Knight from Syracuse were trying to push the pace. I'm proud of what I did today. Sixteenth position is not that good…I'm just so happy to see myself there and put the Seminoles there and shine on us."
Cardama Baez was equally impressed in the women's championship race field, placing 23rd in her first 6000-meter race of the season. The sophomore from Spain was in the top 25 from the mile mark on the way to her best collegiate finish in the invitation-only field, crossing the finish in 20:39.6.
Like Mulenga, Cardama Baez's place was significantly better than a year ago on the same course, where she placed 62nd. Her breakthrough came as a result of her committing to a face early pace, which is a stark contrast from her preferred approach of building off a conservative start.
"I'm really happy with the start," she said. "I'm not really good at starting big races where you have to get out really fast, so having Bridget [Blaek] there really guiding me, gave me a lot of confidence toward the rest of the race. I felt fine until the 3k, 4k and 5k. That's where the race got really rough…You get out really fast and you really try to keep your place.
"It's not the way I usually run. It's a totally different perspective. I usually get motivated by passing people, so it's hard to be there and get confidence…I got a punch-back with 1k to go."
FSU coaches Bob Braman and Kelly Phillips could not have been more happy with the performances from their front-running leaders.
"This was a real gut-check for Harry," Braman said. "He was in that big lead pack of 20 and a couple of times he was getting toward the back of that pack and he fought his way back in. He was in that 13-14 spot the whole last 2k or so. I think the finishing part is going to come for him, but when you look at the people, there is nobody in front of him that is not an All-American.
"I was really proud of him. He competed well, he focused well and put himself in a good spot. That bodes well for nationals."
Phillips was equally excited about Cardama Baez's showing.
"She has been really, really focused this whole week," Phillips said. "She knew she had to get out and she and Bridget got out really, really well, and [Tara] Rooney, too. At probably 3k you could tell it really hurt and she knew she had to just tuck in and hang on and she did it. She was fine the last 600 meters.
"She finally has realized what that pain feels like and the next time it's going to be so much easier. She just raced phenomenally."
Aside from a handful of individual bright spots, it was not a banner day for team finishes for Noles while facing fields of 19 nationally-ranked men's teams and 18 on the women's side.
The Seminole men placed 23rd overall, falling well short of where Braman and the team had hoped to finish.
"We're a tired team," Braman said. "I could see it. We're not out there bouncing. We're grinding, which is okay because you've got a ways to go. You've got four weeks to regions and that's an eternity in cross country.
"Mike Hall had a good day - 112 is a nice finish here. Our goal was to get everybody in the top 100 and while that's not great it would have got us in the top 13-14 teams today. We felt like if got in the top 15 we would have got a whole lot of at-large points."
Hall (25:08.1), a junior, registered the best career individual finish among teammates. He was followed by Michael Callegari (120th, 25:13.2). Brandon Shemonia (123, 25:14.1) and Ibrahim Ahmed (153, 25:31.6), rounding out the scorers.
"We missed our goal, but we didn't strike out," Braman said. "We popped out and grounded out… Seconds-wise, maybe if we're 10-15 seconds better we're in the 80s and 90s and now you're feeling better about yourself. We've got to get fresh. There's no more training for the end of the year. We've got an ACC Championship that we need to be fresh for. That's on me to get them ready to do what they're capable of doing."
The results were eerily similar on for the women, who finished 26th in the 31-team field.
Freshman Megan Mooney (121st, 21:40.7) and senior Catherine Blaney (133, 21:48.4) were FSU's second and third finishers, followed by Blake (145, 21:51.5) and Rooney (184, 22:38.7).
"I thought Mooney did a really good job," Phillips said. "The goal for her was to be top 100 and she was just shy of it. I think she could be up there the next time with a little experience. It didn't take everything out of her. She raced really well; moved through the group really well. I have to remind myself that she's just a freshman.
"Blaney also did a really nice job, and even though she's a senior, she has never been to these kind of meets. Experience-wise she's almost like a freshman and really stepped up. She's on a mission and knows she is going to be even better in a couple weeks. Each week she's getting better."
While the team showing was disappointing, Phillips is confident her group has what it takes to rebound in time for the postseason, which begins in two weeks at the ACC Championships.
"It's exciting to see those three run really well," Phillips said. "The rest of the group, I know we're a good team, we just have to put it all together at the same time.
"If we can put it together we can have a great conference and region team, but we just haven't figured it out yet."
MEN 8K RACE Place Name Points Time ===== ========================= ====== ======== 16 Harry Mulenga 16 24:13.0 112 Michael Hall 112 25:08.1 120 Michael Callegari 120 25:13.2 123 Brandon Shemonia 123 25:14.1 153 Ibrahim Ahmed 153 25:31.6 170 Steven Cross 170 25:50.6
Noles Also Compete At Crimson Classic.
TUSCALOOSA, AL - Abdin Fator, Tyson Murray and Will Simons led the Seminole men, while Sarah Candiano, Madison Harris and Marianne Aguilar paced the women at Friday morning's Alabama Crimson Classic.
Fator finished 62nd overall on the 8,067-meter course in 25:55.2, followed by Murray (74th, 26:03.7) and Simons (94th, 26:19.2) in the field of 217 finishers as the men placed 22nd in the university division while chasing spots on the ACC lineup.
The Seminole women were 20th overall, as Candiano (22:44.1) and Harris (22:44.2), finished 104th and 105th. Aguilar (23:08.3) was 124th in a field of 251 finishers in the first 6000-meter race of the season.
MEN 8K RACE Place Name Points Time ===== ========================= ====== ======== 51 Abdin Fator 51 25:55.2 62 Tyson Murray 60 26:03.7 81 Will Simons 77 26:19.2 96 Matt Magee 90 26:32.3 180 Hunter Scott 138 27:47.3
Cardama Baez, Mulenga Shine At ACC Championships.
Men overcome issues for fifth place; women were ninth.
CARY, NC - Harry Mulenga and Carmela Cardama Baez arrived at Friday's ACC Cross Country Championships on a mission: Improve on their All-ACC performances from 2015 and further establish themselves among the elite.
Battling back from a somewhat conservative start on the fast 6000-meter WakeMed Course, Cardama Baez came racing home with a seventh-place finish (20:09.6), leading the Seminole women, who were ninth overall and just seven points out of sixth place.
Methodically picking off runners, Cardama Baez climbed from 14th-place after 2000 meters to 11th at the 4000-meter mark.
"I had a plan in the race and knew exactly what I had to do in every part of the race, so that really helped me get through and the race went by really fast," said the sophomore Spaniard. "At the same time I don't think I'm in my best peak of the season yet. I still need to work. I didn't feel as good as I was expecting to.
"I have two weeks to regionals and I'm definitely looking forward to getting that speed that I need and that start that I need to be in the place that I want to be. I'm happy with the seventh place. I think it was a good race overall. I think I ran good, but I don't think it's enough. I think I can run better."
"She did a fantastic job the second half and like the rest of our team, she didn't get out," FSU coach Kelly Phillips said. "If she had gone out a little faster I think she would have been in contention for the top three and that was definitely in her ability. She still ran a tremendous race considering the competition she raced against."
Building off a monster summer of training, Mulenga had designs on a big improvement from last season's 11th-place ACC Championship finish. The junior college transfer from Central Arizona, via Zambia, wasted no time establishing himself as a contender.
Running in the lead pack from the start, Mulenga came charging home in fourth-place, completing the 8000-meter course in 23:04.1 to pace the fifth-place Florida State men.
"Honestly I'm so, so happy with my performance today," Mulenga said. "This is what I wanted to do…It wasn't an easy course. We tried to do our best as we could as a team and I tried to fight from the first mile through to the end. Seeing myself in the top five with those elite guys in the NCAA it's an amazing thing in my life. I'm proud of what I've done today and proud to put FSU in the top five."
Cardama Baez and Mulenga were the lone All-ACC performers for the Seminoles on a day that had a smattering of highs and lows.
The Seminole women came into the meet with designs on a top-five finish, but never quite recovered from a slow start from the pack.
Third-ranked NC State ran off with the team title (53 points) with Notre Dame (74) second. Virginia Tech (153), Louisville (157) and Syracuse (184) rounded out the top five. Clemson, Pitt and Wake Forest followed with matching scores of 207, followed by the Seminoles (213).
Senior transfer Catherine Blaney (40th, 21:09.5), junior Bridget Blake (44th, 21:15.6) and freshman Megan Mooney (49th, 21:23.8) formed the kind of pack Phillips was hoping for, albeit a little bit further back in the field than she desired.
"Blaney has been so consistent all season long," Phillips said. "She did a tremendous job. She's a newbie for us and this is the first time that she has been at this level, at the conference level, and she handled it really well."
Still the team finish did not sit well with the second-year coach.
"Sixth I could swallow and be a little disappointed," Phillips said. "Ninth, even if it is just six points, we gave it up. The freshmen did a great job, even if it didn't really pan out the way they wanted to. They did the race plan. They got out hard. They went after it and paid for it a little bit, but that's what is going to make them great two years from now. We'll get there."
The Seminole men came into the meet with designs on a spot in the top three, but those hopes took a turn for the worse when Michael Callegari and Ibrahim Ahmed - two of the team's top runners all season - were carted back to the team area after dropping out due to nagging injuries at mid-race.
Fortunately, FSU coach Bob Braman could lean on one of his deepest teams in years to avert a potential disaster behind Mulenga's big day.
"Harry ran incredible," Braman said. "He beat a ton of All-Americans. He put himself in position at four miles to win the race and they took off on him, but he matched them and fought like crazy. I was real, real proud of Harry.
"Overall we ran really tough. We've just got to get healthy. Bryce Kelley has only been running four or five days a week and he gets 42nd place and puts his nose in it the whole way to give us the chance. Grant Nykaza has been injured and we didn't even know if he was going to run for us and finished 40th for us. Our pack did a great job."
The Seminoles placed six runners in the top 42 overall, with graduate transfer Brandon Shemonia continuing his penchant for clutch performances, placing 26th (23:59.0). Freshman Steven Cross (31st, 24:10.1), junior Michael Hall (33rd, 24:11.9) and Nykaza (40th, 24:20.2) rounded out the scorers, with Kelley (42nd, 24:21.7) displacing several others.
"Once again we lost Ibrahim [Ahmed] and Michael Callegari, two guys in our top three, and the guys stepped up and didn't let it bother them," Braman said. "They got the thing done. It may not show totally on the stat sheet … but I think it bodes well for where we're trying to go. Today is the first day since we were here six weeks ago that we got a glimpse of the team we can be and that's what we came here to do. Mission accomplished. Now we've got to be better in two weeks."
MEN 8K RACE Place Name Points Time ===== ========================= ====== ======== 4 Harry Mulenga 4 23:04.1 26 Brandon Shemonia 26 23:59.0 31 Steven Cross 31 24:10.1 33 Michael Hall 33 24:11.9 40 Grant Nykaza 40 24:20.2 42 Bryce Kelley 41 24:21.7 79 Tyson Murray 71 25:05.4 85 Will Simons 25:16.1
Cardama Baez, Mulenga Qualify For NCAA XC Championships.
Seminole men fifth, women seventh at NCAA South Region.
TALLAHASSEE, FL - Carmela Cardama Baez and Harry Mulenga have been at the front of the pack every race this cross country season. The second-year Florida State standouts will get a chance to do it again - on the grandest stage of all - at next week's NCAA Championships.
Cardama Baez finished third and Mulenga fifth at Friday's NCAA South Region Championships, contested on FSU's home Apalachee Regional Park Course, securing automatic individual qualifying berths to the NCAA Championships for the first times.
The day began with Cardama Baez, a sophomore from Spain, putting herself in position from the starting gun. Racing in the top 10 early, she climbed to fourth-place at the midway point of the 6000-meter race and picked off one last position in the final 200 meters. She finished in 20:13.1; far and away her fastest effort as a collegian.
"It makes me really happy to see all things finally came together," she said. "Last year at this time, I could have [qualified] but I didn't have the race to make it. If you just keep working and trying, everything is going to come together. I'm here! I'll be in Indiana next week!"
UCF's Anne-Marie Blaney won the individual title (20:07.2) - her fourth career win on the FSU course - and Auburn's Veronica Eder (20:08.6) was second.
The Seminole women finished seventh overall - four spots better than their region ranking - but well behind South Region champion Mississippi State, which edged runner-up Ole Miss 66-67 for the title. Those teams automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships. FSU finished with 208 points and trailed Vanderbilt (138), Alabama (177), Georgia (195) and Florida (208) in the final tally.
Mulenga, like Cardama Baez, thrust himself in the middle of the lead pack from the start and stayed there throughout the first 10,000-meter race of the season. The senior spent the final 7,000 meters in a lead group of five with Middle Tennessee's Jacob Choge and Kigen Chemadi, Samford Arse'ne Guillorel and Alabama's Robbie Farnham-Rose.
When it all shuffled out the Zambian native came home in 30:28.2, which was good enough to collect the third of four automatic individually qualifying spots.
Choge (30:19.8) and Chemadi (30:22.7) finished 1-2 for MTSU, followed by Farnham-Rose (30:24.1) and Guillorel (30:24.6). The fourth and final individual berth went to Alabama's Antibahs Kosgei (30:33.1), a longtime junior college rival of Mulenga's.
"Harry's been good the whole year and I think today he makes that next step in development where he comes in with a big crowd of very talented runners - individually we have a great top 10 in this region - and he's at risk of not making nationals because he's not having a perfect day," FSU men's coach Bob Braman said. "He learned how to be good even not on his best day…He's good enough to be All-American even if he's not perfect, but he's got to fight like he did today."
The Seminole men had plenty of fight, but not nearly enough healthy bodies to secure a 13th trip to the NCAA Championships in the last 14 years. The Noles finished fifth with 127 points, well behind auto qualifiers Ole Miss (46) and MTSU (61), but also trailing Georgia (105) and Alabama (122).
An exhausted Mulenga, who was spiked badly in the ankle during the race, fought hard to earn a spot in Terre Haute and extend FSU's streak of sending at least one runner to the NCAA Championships for the 16th consecutive year.
"That was probably my best because 10k is not an easy distance," Mulenga said. "You have to be focused and give everything you can to make it, so overall I'm so happy with my performance today, to find myself in the top 10 and placing well enough to go to nationals.
"I'll go there and represent everybody as a good ambassador for Florida State."
Besieged by injury late in the season the Noles were forced to race without Michael Callegari, while Ibrahim Ahmed was unable to finish the race. That left freshman Steven Cross to lead the charge and the first-year Nole missed earning All-Region honors by the narrowest of margins, placing 26th (31:17.2).
Bryce Kelley (29th, 31:24.8) and Michael Hall (30th, 31:30.0) were followed by Brandon Shemonia (45th, 31:50.8), to round out the scorers.
"Steven Cross, for a freshman, was fantastic," Braman said. "Bryce Kelley, who has been hurt and didn't run all summer, cross-trained his way to a top 30 finish. Then Mike Hall did what Mike Hall always does. He's a miler on the track and 10k is not his favorite thing, but he's always in that 29-30-31 zone.
"It has been the most trying year for them, because it's their team, and I still believe we're still a top 20 team (nationally) when healthy. We've seen that for a couple months this season, but here at the end there have been so many injuries. We've not been a team that gets hurt and unravels. We've been a team that rallies, hence we've made 12 of 13 NCAA Championships before today."
FSU women's coach Kelly Phillips couldn't have been more pleased with Cardama Baez, who missed both the indoor and outdoor track & field seasons with a serious injury after narrowly failing to qualify individually for last year's NCAA Cross Country Championships.
"I definitely feel like Wisconsin helped her, to know what it feels like," Phillips said, who watched her sophomore standout race with the nation's best that day and two weeks later with an All-ACC performance. "It was easier to go fast out today. She felt really comfortable the whole race, which was great. The big thing for Carmela is from the time of the last regional, where she was disappointed, she has really been working on this regional. She has been planning for this - mentally and physically - for a year and she executed perfectly.
"She was very stressed because she felt like she owed it to her team to be a qualifier and she didn't want to let anyone down. It was just awesome."
Senior Catherine Blaney was the next Nole across the finish, placing 40th in 21:17.1, followed by junior Bridget Blake (55th, 21:32.4), freshman Megan Mooney (61st, 21:37.3) and junior Tara Rooney (62nd, 21:39.7). Freshman Hailey Hendry (90th, 22:14.5) rounded out the Seminole scorers.
"It's not where I wanted to be place-wise," Phillips said. "We were fifth with a kilometer to go and just didn't finish. Our freshmen are on board and are going to be great. We just need a little age…We should have been better as a whole group, but we ran consistent to what we've run all year.
"You lick your wounds, you move on and you keep growing and training harder. They now know what it takes to get here."
MEN 10K RACE Place Name Points Time ===== ========================= ====== ======== 5 Harry Mulenga 5 30:28.2 26 Steven Cross 25 31:17.2 29 Bryce Kelley 27 31:24.8 30 Michael Hall 28 31:30.0 45 Brandon Shemonia 42 31:50.8 112 Grant Nykaza 102 33:16.6
Cardama Baez, Mulenga Close Season At NCAA XC Championships.
Different strategies, tough conditions factor in outcomes. TERRE HAUTE, IN - On a cold, blustery race day against the top collegians in the country, Florida State's Carmela Cardama Baez and Harry Mulenga took opposite approaches to Saturday's NCAA Cross Country Championship races at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course.
Cardama Baez was battling uphill after a conservative start in the field of 250 finishers, but came on like gang-busters over the final 4000 meters of the 6000-meter race. The sophomore from Spain roared past 84 runners in that span and finished 73rd (20:41.79) in her NCAA Championships debut.
Mulenga, a senior, was front-and-center in a huge lead pack from the outset. The Zambia native was 11th at 3000 meters and 32nd - but very much in the thick of things - at the 5000-meter midway point, but was unable to hang on. Despite a dramatic improvement from last year's finish (153rd), he came home 82nd overall in 30:45.8.
The end results weren't what either had hoped for, but then, neither were the conditions. A cold front came through the area Friday night and while the course was dry despite heavy rain, the temperature was 37 degrees at the start of women's race and the wind chill made it feel like 25.
"It took a lot of moxy for our kids to take on a 50-degree weather change and still compete their tails off," Florida State men's coach Bob Braman said.
Cardama Baez was the first to go in the conditions with the 11 a.m. start.
"She was great; got out a little slow and was stuck a bit but she looked great and kept her composure and worked the entire way passing people," FSU women's coach Kelly Phillips said of her two-time All-ACC, All-Region performer.
The tightly packed field and the winding course made it difficult to move up until the middle stages of the race, where Cardama Baez made her charge.
"She had a fantastic race and a great season and next year she will be here with her team and go for All-American honors," Phillips said.
The men's race followed at noon, with temperatures rising ever-so slightly. Mulenga heated up quickly and near the front of a giant lead pack, in the company of three-time defending champion Edward Cheserek, eventual champion Patrick Tiernan (Villanova) and runner-up and ACC champion Justyn Knight of Syracuse.
"Harry went for the big race and paid the price," said Braman, who watched Mulenga slide pack through the pack beginning shortly after the 5000-meter mark. "I'm proud of him for going for a top-10 finish, but a more controlled approach would've worked better."
MEN 10K RACE Place Name Points Time ===== ========================= ====== ======== 82 Harry Mulenga 30:45.8