Florida State Women's Cross Country - 2015 Year In Review

Florida State Women's Cross Country - 2015 Year In Review

Coaching Staff
Kelly Phillips, Head Coach
Ashley Botham, Volunteer Assistant
Kevin Ondrasek, Volunteer Assistant
Josh Seitz, Assistant Coach

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Click here to see individual mug shots

From the FSU Website, seminoles.com.

Title Chase Lures Phillips To Women's Cross Country Post.

April 16, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, FL – The chance to compete for NCAA championships in cross country and track & field at Florida State was enough to bring Kelly Phillips back to the state where she launched her coaching career and hopes to conclude it.

Phillips has been named the head women’s cross country coach for the nationally-ranked Seminoles, and will also direct the women’s distance program on the track.

Florida State head coach Bob Braman, who gave Phillips her first full-time coaching position in 1997 at South Florida, has turned to the veteran of 19 collegiate seasons to replace Karen Harvey. Harvey, who led the cross country and women’s distance programs to unprecedented heights, resigned in March.

“I’m excited to welcome Kelly Phillips to the Seminole Family,” Braman said. “Kelly is a talented and accomplished coach that I know can lead our ladies back to national contenders in cross country, while adding national distance scorers in track & field.

“We worked together at South Florida and I watched her take that program from a Conference USA contender to a top 25 national team.”

Phillips, who is in her sixth season at Miami (Ohio) University as the women’s cross country and track & field coach, simply could not resist the opportunity.

“It’s very exciting,” Phillips said. “Initially, my first reaction was, ‘Miami is a great place; I’m in a great situation. Why would I want to leave?’

“The thought of working with coach Braman again is very attractive to me. Then when he started talking about FSU winning a national championship, the competitive side of me came out and I was drooling over the possibilities. When you’re talking about a school like Florida State, it quickly becomes a no-brainer. From a personal standpoint, with the friends and the administration I’ve had here, it was a tough decision.”

A two-time Olympic Trials qualifier in the 1500 following a record-setting career at Auburn, Phillips has enjoyed success on a multitude of levels.

At South Florida (1997-2001), where she served as associate head coach before succeeding Braman following his departure to Florida State, Phillips led the Bulls to three Conference USA cross country titles – twice with the women and once with the men – and had 33 student-athletes qualify for the NCAA Championships. She earned three CUSA Coach of the Year honors in cross country (two women, one men), NCAA South Region Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year three times and the CUSA Women’s Track & Field Coach of the Year in her final season.

Out of coaching for three years following the birth of her sons, Michael and Connor, Phillips returned as the women’s assistant cross country and distance coach at Purdue, serving from 2005-2009.

Hired at Miami (Ohio) in 2009, she delivered the first of two Mid-American Conference women’s cross country team championships in her first fall. The second followed in 2013, snapping a three-year run by Toledo. Each year she was selected the MAC Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year. On the track, the Redhawks have finished in the top-four at the MAC Championships five times between the indoor and outdoor seasons.

She had been selected to serve as Director of Track & Field and Cross Country when the men's and women's programs are combined for the 2015-16 academic year.

Phillips has coached multiple NCAA Championship individual qualifiers between cross country and track with the Redhawks, while also setting a high standard for academic excellence, with both the cross country and track & field teams earning USTFCCCA All-Academic honors. That too has been a common thread throughout her career.

Phillips began her coaching career as a graduate assistant at Auburn (1991-93), after establishing 14 school records and earning All-American honors in both the mile and 3000-meter run there as a student-athlete. She graduated in 1991 with a degree in marketing.

After experiencing success at the SEC, Conference USA, Big Ten and Mid-American conference levels, Phillips will apply what she has learned along the way in the ACC.

“They all have very different dynamics; the kind of athletes they bring in and the competitive success they look for,” Phillips said. “It’s been an exciting coaching career, but to go back to Florida and be with a bunch of coaches that want to win a national championship and do it the right way, it makes it hard to sleep at night when you think like that.

“When you’re talking national championships, I really, really like to win. It’s Florida State. It’s awesome.”

In addition to her own coaching experience, Phillips has also been influenced by her nationally-renowned post-collegiate coaches, Frank Gagliano and Ron Helmer.

“I trained under Frank Gagliano and coach Ron Helmer – who is at Indiana now and was at Georgetown at the time – with the Reebok Enclave,” said Phillips, who lived and trained with an elite group of USA athletes in the Washington, D.C. area. “That was a tremendous experience, trying to be the best.”

With her competitive career winding down, Phillips connected with Braman, who was then the coach at South Florida.

“He just took a chance on me and it was great,” said Phillips, who fondly remembers the two of them directing a combined program of 100 athletes. “I learned a ton. We lucked into some good success down there and it was a great place.”

Braman was clearly impressed, and has kept tabs on Phillips’ progress throughout her career.

“She’s a tireless recruiter and that's going to pay huge dividends in our quest for that elusive national title,” Braman said. “At all her coaching stops she’s had national distance qualifiers in track & field and that’s key to our pursuit of a national title.

“But just as importantly, Kelly is very personable and an extremely caring coach. I’m confident our ladies will flourish under her guidance."

Phillips will finish the outdoor season at Miami University and will officially join the Florida State staff on June 1, following the NCAA East Preliminary meet.

“I appreciate the confidence that not only the athletic director, Mr. [Stan] Wilcox, but coach Braman have shown in me,” Phillips said. “I appreciate the opportunity and am very excited to come to FSU and win a national championship. I hope the returning and incoming athletes are excited and have that goal as well.”

Karen Harvey Resigns As FSU XC Coach.

March 03, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, FL - Florida State cross country and distance coach Karen Harvey has resigned, citing a desire to leave the profession as her reason for leaving the program.

Harvey spent eight years at the helm in Tallahassee, coaching her Seminoles to six NCAA South Region and ACC team championships, while producing 18 All-Americans. Harvey’s resignation will leave lingering questions as to what caused the coach to quit so abruptly, as four Seminole distance runners are slated to compete at next week’s NCAA Indoor Championships.

Head Track and Field Coach Bob Braman said, “We respect Coach Harvey’s decision and she has left the program in great position. Our focus now is on our current women’s distance athletes, including NCAA Indoor qualifiers Colleen Quigley and the distance medley relay team, as well as those future Seminoles.”

2015 Florida State Signees/Newcomers

Sarah Candiano, Fort Myers

Carmela Cardama Baez, Vigo, Spain

Fatema Jaffer, Longwood

2015 Roster - By Name

T                            PY
R Name                  Cl   Ltr  Hometown (Prior School)
  Marianne Aguilar      So        Southwest Ranches (Archbishop McCarthy)
  Julia Anzano          Fr        Mahwah, NJ (Mahwah)
  Hollis Bartlett       Sr        Fort Myers (Fort Myers)
  Mackenzie Baysinger   Fr        Rockledge (Rockledge)
* Bridget Blake         So-R *    Orlando (Doctor Phillips)
  Isabella Campos       Jr        Jacksonville (Bishop Kenny)
* Sarah Candiano        Fr        Fort Myers (Evangelical Christian)
* Carmela Cardama Baez  Fr        Vigo, Spain (Universidade de Vigo)
  Brittany Carey        Sr        Fort Lauderdale (Westminster Academy)
  Kali Cilli            So        Pembroke Pines (Pembroke Pines Charter)
* Julia Corley          Jr        West Palm Beach (King's Academy)
  Rachel Davis          Sr        Tampa (Newsome)
* Christine Griggs      Sr   ***  Ponte Vedra Beach (Episcopal)
  Darien Halliday       Fr        Palm Coast (Flager-Palm Coast)
  Madison Harris        So   *    Ochlockonee Bay (Wakulla)
  Alyssa Hatton         Fr        Orlando (Bishop Moore)
  Kellie Hays           So        Tallahassee (Lincoln)
  Althea Hewitt         Fr        Cocoa Beach (Cocoa Beach)
* Claire Igoe           So        Crofton, MD (South River)
  Lexi Jackson          So        Saint Johns (Creekside)
* Fatema Jaffer         Fr        Longwood (Lake Mary)
* Chelsea Jarvis        Fr-R      Saint Helens, England (Carmel College)
  Kaitlyn Kelly         Sr   **   Port Orange (Spruce Creek)
  Annie Kennedy         So        Jacksonville (Bishop Kenny)
  Jessica Lonas         Fr        Sarasota (Riverview)
  Cecilia McMillan      Jr        Jacksonville (Bishop Kenny)
  Alex Midgett          Sr        Orange Park (Ridgeview)
* Georgia Peel          Sr   ***  Surrey, England (Gordon's)
* Bella Poole           So   *    Ponte Vedra Beach (Ponte Vedra)
  Bridget Reid          So        Jacksonville (Bishop Kenny)
* Teresa Ristow         Sr-R **   Melbourne (Holy Trinity Academy)
* Tara Rooney           So        Vernon Hills, IL (Vernon Hills)
  Andrea Serpa          So        Fort Walton Beach (Niceville)
* Katie Slater          So   *    Estero (Estero)
  Haley Slocum          Jr        Windermere (Bishop Moore)
  Sara Steele           So        Fort Walton Beach (Choctawhatchee)
* Carly Thomas          Sr   ***  Tallahassee (Chiles)
  Kayla Thomas          So        Jacksonville (Stanton)
* Courteney West        Jr   *    Great Falls, VA (Langley)
  Forever Young         So        Daytona Beach (Seabreeze)
  Melissa Zyla          Fr        Fairfield, NJ (West Essex)

2015 Schedule and Results

Boone, NC
1st Place
Blacksburg, Va
1st Place
Gainesville, Fl
12th Place
Boston, Ma
6th Place
Madison, Wi
23rd Place
Tuscaloosa, Al
14th Place
Tuscaloosa, Al
4th Place
EOY Stats Ref

                Overall   Home    Away   Neutral
FSU RECORD IS    0- 0     0- 0     0- 0     0- 0

 1  VIRGINIA               71
 3  NOTRE DAME             96
 4  SYRACUSE              141
 5  NORTH CAROLINA        150
 6  BOSTON COLLEGE        159
 7  FLORIDA STATE         172
 8  VIRGINIA TECH         213
 9  PITTSBURGH            241
10  CLEMSON               244
11  DUKE                  275
12  WAKE FOREST           290
13  LOUISVILLE            312
14  GEORGIA TECH          407
15  MIAMI                 450

2015 EOY Stats

Team Overall Name Races Top 7 Top 10 Wins =============================================== Georgia Peel 6 6 3 2 Carmela Cardama Baez 6 6 3 0 Bridget Blake 6 6 2 0 Christine Griggs 6 6 2 0 Courteney West 6 6 0 0 Fatema Jaffer 6 6 0 0 Sarah Candiano 6 5 0 0 Katie Slater 4 2 0 0 Chelsea Jarvis 4 2 0 0 Teresa Ristow 4 2 0 0 Julia Corley 4 2 0 0 Jessica Lonas 4 1 0 0 Bella Poole 3 3 0 0 Tara Rooney 3 3 0 0 Carly Thomas 3 2 0 0 Alex Midgett 3 1 0 0 Haley Slocum 3 0 0 0 Annie Kennedy 3 0 0 0 Claire Igoe 2 2 0 0 Marianne Aguilar 2 1 0 0 Forever Young 2 1 0 0 Cecilia McMillan 2 0 0 0 Kayla Thomas 2 0 0 0 Alyssa Hatton 2 0 0 0 Bridget Reid 2 0 0 0 Hollis Bartlett 2 0 0 0 Althea Hewitt 2 0 0 0 Brittany Carey 2 0 0 0 Mackenzie Baysinger 2 0 0 0 Kaitlyn Kelly 1 0 0 0 Sara Steele 1 0 0 0 Darien Halliday 1 0 0 0 Melissa Zyla 1 0 0 0 Kellie Hays 1 0 0 0 Rachel Davis 1 0 0 0

09/04/2015, Boone, NC

From the FSU Website, seminoles.com.

Peel Helps Make Phillips' Debut A Winner; Goodwin Prevails.
FSU women edge Florida; reduced men's squad share second.

BOONE, NC - In the first race of her senior season, Florida State's Georgia Peel scored her first collegiate cross country victory Friday at the Covered Bridge Open and helped make coach Kelly Phillips a winner in her Seminole debut.

Peel covered the 5000-meter State Farm Fields/Kennedy Trails course in 17:44.07 for a 15-second margin of victory, and the Seminoles cruised to the victory in large part due to the performances of freshman Carmela Cardama Baez (18:02.77) and sophomore Bridget Blake (18:03.16), who placed third and fourth.

FSU senior Christine Griggs (18:32.46) and junior Courteney West (18:39.67) finished 10th and 11th to secure the win for the 25th-ranked Seminoles, who out-distanced rival Florida, 29-42. Host Appalachian State was third (54), followed by East Carolina (112) and VMI (161).

"[Peel] looked great," Phillips said. "She, Carmela and Bridget looked very comfortable. They were real far back and after that they started weaving around people. I was actually happy they stayed with the plan."

The conservative start and fast finish strategy worked effectively for the Noles, who also received solid efforts from freshmen Fatema Jaffer (15th, 18:58.37) and Sarah Candiano (22nd, 19:11.88). Sophomores Katie Slater (27th, 19:23.80) and Chelsea Jarvis (29th, 19:29.47) followed close behind.

"They did a really nice job starting out in the pack," Phillips said. "They looked so good and very comfortable moving through. It was a good start [to the season]."

It was also a good start for Florida State senior Jack Goodwin, who gave the Seminoles a clean sweep of the individual titles, with a big kick to nip Appalachian State's Mike Ellis for the win.

"He looked really good," FSU coach Bob Braman said of Goodwin. "The idea was to run it as a workout and never lead and he took the directions correctly to the end. He didn't lead until the last step."

Goodwin, like Peel and Great Britain native, won in 20:02.19 to Ellis' 20:15.78.

The Seminoles received an exceptionally strong closing run from redshirt junior Stanley Linton, who finished third overall in 20:15.78. Bryce Kelley's best collegiate appearance earned a ninth-place finish (20:33.16) for the Noles over the 6400-meter course.

"Stanley went out really slow and just rolled people up," Braman said. "He was probably 15th at 2 miles. Bryce ran really strong as well."

Florida claimed the team title by placing five runners in the top 10 for 32 points, while the Seminoles shared second with host Appalachian State with 60 points.

Otniel Teixeira (21st, 20:56.13) and ailing Zak Seddon (27th, 21:14.13) rounded out the Seminole scorers.

"I felt like we did a good job," said Braman, who chose to put sophomores Grant Nykaza and Michael Hall and freshmen Tyson Murray, Hunter Scott, Will Simons and Andy Coscoran, through a workout as opposed to a race. "The guys who didn't race did a real nice job. We'll be fine."

Place  Name                       Points   Time
=====  =========================  ======  ========
   1   Georgia Peel                   1   17:44.07
   3   Carmela Cardama Baez           3   18:02.77
   4   Bridget Blake                  4   18:03.16
  10   Christine Griggs              10   18:32.46
  11   Courteney West                11   18:39.67
  15   Fatema Jaffer                 15   18:58.37
  22   Sarah Candiano                22   19:11.88
  27   Katie Slater                       19:23.80
  29   Chelsea Jarvis                     19:29.47
  48   Teresa Ristow                      20:17.37
  50   Julia Corley                       20:26.58
  64   Kaitlyn Kelly                      21:39.07

09/18/2015, Blacksburg, Va

From the FSU Website, seminoles.com.

FSU's Peel, Seddon Post Cross Country Wins At Virginia Tech.
Seminole women remain unbeaten; men edged by single point.

BLACKSBURG, VA - Senior Georgia Peel and the Florida State women's cross country team remain perfect under first-year coach Kelly Phillips, following Friday's victory at the Virginia Tech Alumni Invitational.

Peel won her second consecutive race of the season, cruising the Buford Meredith 6000-meter course in 21:01.43, with teammate and fellow co-captain Bridget Blake finishing second (21:15.31) and freshman Carmela Cardama Baez fourth (21:24.79). With senior Christine Griggs' late push for sixth (21:57.34) and freshman Fatema Jaffer's 17th place finish (22:10.42) the Seminoles comfortably turned back the 12-team field.

On a week when the Seminole women were unceremoniously dropped from the national rankings, the 26th-ranked men were suffering their second narrow loss of the season, despite a 1-2 finish from Zak Seddon and Stanley Linton.

Despite Seddon edging Linton by less than a second over the 8000-meter course (24:50.59-24:51.38) and Jack Goodwin fourth (24:53.57), the Noles came up a point short of Akron (42-43) for the team title in the field of 12.

Outcomes notwithstanding, both Phillips and FSU men's coach Bob Braman came away from meet encouraged by what they saw from the Seminoles.

"We had a really, really hard week of training so everybody looked flat, but if they can look that flat and still run those times, I'll take that," Phillips said. They were really solid."

"Her, Bridget and Carmela - we kind of did this pack thing - they were supposed to be conservative through the first 3 kilometers…Then Griggs, [Courteney] West, Jaffer and [Sarah] Candiano were a pack and ran really well together.

"Griggs may have not knocked off 15 spots in the last mile and was a beast in the end."

West finished 20th (22:15.80) and Candiano was 28th (22:50.96) to round of the top seven Seminoles in the field of 118 runners. FSU finished with a scant 24 points, comfortably in front of runner-up Ohio (49) and host Virginia Tech (74).

Unlike Phillips, Braman held out several of what figure to be his top seven, yet still received some solid results. Byrce Kelley was 25th (25:16.95) and Otniel Teixeira 30th (25:28.68). Freshman Andrew Coscoran rounded out the group with a 40th-place finish in his collegiate debut (25:40.54) in a field of 140 finishers.

"I'm really happy because I didn't want to over-run this race with Boston next week," said Braman, whose team will compete in the Battle In Beantown next Friday. "That's like practicing in full pads right before you go into a big football game. You can't beat people up…

"The top three looked really good and were completely under control. We've got to start putting some more pieces in there."

Next week marks the first weekend of the season when teams are able to begin accruing points toward at-large berths to the NCAA Championships, placing a premium on strong finishes against strong competition. With a number of nationally and regionally ranked teams lining up next week at Boston's venerable Franklin Park, Braman hopes to put his top 10 runners on the Jamaica Plains course.

"We got out too fast," Braman said, reviewing his teams' performance. "We had six guys at three miles in the top 15. The goal was not to go out that fast. We bled some points at the end, which probably cost us the win, but I really didn't want those guys digging too hard with a really quality Boston meet coming up next Friday. Credit Akron. The MAC has some good teams and Akron is one of them.

"It's a good step forward for us. We're in a good spot, but it's the time of the year where the points come up next week and we've got to start putting the pieces together. We're working hard and everybody's healthy, but not fresh."

Phillips is especially pleased with the strong starts to the season by Peel and Blake, as well as Baez and Griggs.

"[Peel] is just very powerful and so effortless," Phillips said. "I honestly haven't seen her to the point where she is uncomfortable. She just has this aerobic capacity that's incredible…When she came down the last 800 meters she looked like she could just whistle. She was just comfortable.

"Bridget, too. She actually looked better in the second half of the race and looked comfortable. Bridget has been a great leader bringing the team along in practice. Griggs is like a rock. She takes the group out at a very even pace and then just makes everybody go halfway through. She's just a beast. You know exactly what you're getting when the gun goes off."

Place  Name                       Points   Time
=====  =========================  ======  ========
   1   Georgia Peel                   1   21:01.43
   2   Bridget Blake                  2   21:15.31
   4   Carmela Cardama Baez           4   21:24.79
   6   Christine Griggs               6   21:57.34
  17   Fatema Jaffer                 11   22:10.42
  20   Courteney West                14   22:15.80
  28   Sarah Candiano                20   22:50.96
  40   Jessica Lonas                      23:22.20
  47   Katie Slater                       23:31.04
  61   Julia Corley                       23:54.21
  84   Chelsea Jarvis                     24:53.97

09/19/2015, Gainesville, Fl

Place  Name                       Points   Time
=====  =========================  ======  ========
  54   Bella Poole                   50   19:27.80
  58   Claire Igoe                   54   19:34.67
  61   Marianne Aguilar              57   19:38.88
  67   Tara Rooney                   60   19:59.87
  75   Carly Thomas                  63   20:07.47
  80   Alex Midgett                  67   20:15.49
  86   Forever Young                 71   20:24.69
  91   Cecilia McMillan                   20:36.70
  96   Sara Steele                        20:44.37
  98   Kayla Thomas                       20:50.01
 102   Haley Slocum                       20:59.29
 103   Annie Kennedy                      21:03.93
 107   Alyssa Hatton                      21:09.33
 111   Bridget Reid                       21:14.06
 115   Hollis Bartlett                    21:21.92
 118   Althea Hewitt                      21:41.19
 119   Brittany Carey                     21:44.22
 120   Mackenzie Baysinger                21:44.48

09/25/2015, Boston, Ma

From the FSU Website, seminoles.com.

Goodwin Sixth; Women's Trio In Top 14 Lead In Beantown.
Cross country Noles find positives in first test of the season.

BOSTON, MA - With Florida State's Jack Goodwin claiming a sixth-place finish for the men and the women's trio of Georgia Peel, Bridget Blake and Carmela Cardama Baez wedged between ninth and 14th, there were plenty of bright spots for the Seminoles at Friday's Battle In Beantown cross country meet.

Competing in their first major meet of the season, neither team was satisfied with their final standing on a nearly perfect fall afternoon at historic Franklin Park.

Bob Braman's 26th-ranked men finished seventh in the 21-team field, well behind third-ranked Syracuse, which ran away with the title on the strength of a 25-point total. The unranked Seminole women finished sixth in a field of 24, managing to knock off No. 25 Dartmouth, but well behind eighth-ranked champion Providence (42 points).

Team results notwithstanding, both Braman and women's coach Kelly Phillips didn't have any trouble finding positives in the performances of their respective squads.

"We ran like what we are, which is a very tired team," Braman said. "We put a lot of work in, thought maybe we could get away with it and we were exposed for our tiredness for sure. As I told the guys, I see positives. You see Grant [Nykaza] stick his nose in it and look like the runner we thought he could be coming out of high school. You see Bryce Kelley continue to improve. He's scored in every race. Mike Hall is on the way back."

Goodwin's performance - he covered the 8000-meter course in 24:10.0 - was clearly the brightest sign on the men's side.

"I'm happy because the first few races I was just training if I'm honest; just went out and ran them," said Goodwin, a senior co-captain. "This is the first one that I've come into actually approaching it as a race. I'm where I'd like to be at the moment and hopefully every race is going to get better and better."

Braman concurred after watching Goodwin battle shoulder to shoulder most of the way with Syracuse's powerful trio at the front, led by race champion Justyn Knight (23:51.0).

"Jack is in that, almost knocking on the door for All-American level," Braman said. "Certainly the top five today are people that will be in that All-American chase at the end of the year. Jack is on the front end of his fitness and is not there yet."

Phillips' Seminole women were spectacular at the front as Peel (ninth, 17:15.1), Blake (11th, 17:17.4) and Baez (14th, 17:24.0) eclipsed the performances of the top three runners from 22 other teams. Only Providence, had a better score from their first three across the line.

Even more encouraging, Christine Griggs (50th, 17:55.2) and Courteney West (7 , 18:07.2) turned in lifetime-best 5000-meter cross country times as the Seminoles' fourth and fifth finishers.

"We come away with, 'We have more work to do and we're really in a good place,'" Phillips said. "I think they looked at it like, 'Wow, we could have been top three or top four,' and I don't think they thought that way back in August, but now they realize that they're a lot better than they thought they were going to be as a team.

"I think they all felt like they competed well. We went out conservatively, which was fine, because they were a lot more aggressive the second half. If it was a kilometer further they would have probably run down some more folks. I'm real happy with the way they ran as a team overall. We need to get a little tighter from 4-9, but overall they all did a great job. And I think they're excited about the next meet."

Under a cloudless sky with the temperature hovering around 65 degrees, on a hard, dry and fast course, the early pace in both races was quick.

"It's September and you're going to have that body shock in a race like this where the first mile ended up being 4:48 and we've done nothing under five minutes [in training]," Braman said. "There's no easy way to get where you want to go and unfortunately today resulted in a seventh-place finish instead of maybe a second-place finish."

Stanley Linton was FSU's second man across the finish line, working his way through the field to finish 34th in 24:51.5. Nykaza, in his first major meet in more than a year, was running in the top 20 through the halfway mark and came home 43rd (24:50.1). Michael Hall, who like Nykaza was making his first race appearance of the season, was 54th (25:00.6) and Bryce Kelley rounded out the Seminole scorers in 57th (25:02.8).

Goodwin said the Noles were anticipating a tough day on the course, adding that Friday's race was a necessary first step in a journey where the most important meets are still a month or more away.

"I think we went into the race with the boys knowing it was going to be a challenge today because we've been training hard and we hadn't planned to ease down for this race," Goodwin said. "This race wasn't meant to be pretty. It was meant to be a grind and a hard race.

"When we do ease down it's going to be a different story. We don't need to be fit now; we don't need to be sharp now. Like for me, I missed the move today and those [lead] boys moved away and took 20 seconds out of me in the last mile, but I'm happy with not being in that sharp fitness now. Two months down the line, that's when the proper races are."

"I think this team could be very, very good," said Braman, noting that the addition of star signee Harry Mulenga in the near future will help. "The results certainly don't make you think that, but really as a coach in September, you're not really looking at the times or even the scores. It's the eyeball test. The eyeball told me we really competed OK, but physically we were trying to fight ourselves."

Women's co-captains Peel and Blake had similar takes to Goodwin.

"It was a big race and we haven't run any races like that," Peel said. "It was a bit of a shock for everyone going out that fast… And it was a bit of a dodgy start as well, because we didn't hear the gun and were sort of left back on the line. It was a positive race and we're moving in the right direction. I think it has given a lot of the girls a confidence boost, knowing that they can be up there."

Blake said it is comforting having Peel and Baez close by on race days.

"It keeps me relaxed," Blake said. "Carmela I can sometimes hear her coming up on the back end and she really scoops me up. It's nice when I know she's coming up because I can keep pushing, because I know she's going to tell me to keep going. It takes the pressure off to look at a similar jersey."

"This was a good test…It's exciting because really we're just sort of getting started. As we go on, especially around Wisconsin and ACC's, we can put together something really good."

Kelly, who plans to rest her lead group until the Wisconsin Invitational in two weeks, is excited about the prospects moving forward.

"If you look at our top three across the board today, our top three was really good, and that's going to help especially at regionals," Phillips said. "That will be very valuable. We just have to get to the point where our fourth through seventh realize they're talented."

Freshman Fatema Jaffer was FSU's sixth finisher (114th, 18:39.7) and sophomore Katie Slater was seventh (133rd, 18:54.0).

"Griggs and West did a really nice job," Phillips added. "They did well but the beauty of them doing well is they both walked away saying, 'I'm so much better than that.'"

Place  Name                       Points   Time
=====  =========================  ======  ========
   9   Georgia Peel                   9   17:15.1 
  11   Bridget Blake                 11   17:17.4 
  14   Carmela Cardama Baez          14   17:24.0 
  50   Christine Griggs              50   17:55.2 
  72   Courteney West                71   18:07.2 
 114   Fatema Jaffer                106   18:39.7 
 133   Katie Slater                 116   18:54.0 
 163   Sarah Candiano                     19:20.2 
 196   Jessica Lonas                      20:15.6 

10/02/2015, TALLAHASSEE, FL

From the FSU Website, seminoles.com.

Seminole Men Roll To FSU Invitational Title.
Seddon, Linton lead men; women place sixth.

TALLAHASSEE, FL - With Zak Seddon returning to form and Stanley Linton continuing to provide solid work at the top of the lineup the Florida State men's cross country team claimed its second consecutive FSU Invitational team title Friday at Apalachee Regional Park.

With the Seminoles getting their last competitive - albeit controlled - look at their home course before the Oct. 30 ACC Championship the lopsided team victory was an added bonus.

Seddon was second overall over the 8000-meter course in (25:07.3) with Linton right on his heels (25:08.1). With Jack Goodwin (25:30.5) and Bryce Kelley (26:05.5) scoring third and fifth-place finishes, the Noles were able to close the deal when Andrew Coscoran came across seventh (26:18.6) among NCAA Division I runners.

FSU's front-end strength was good for an 18-point total and a comfortable 38-point advantage over Florida (56). USF was third with 74 points.

"I really like the way Zak rebounded from last week," FSU coach Bob Braman said. "He was really determined to be Zak Seddon again. Stan committed a little bit earlier to the front than usual and I was happy to see that.

"The first three were completely successful in the way we designed. We wanted to be behind at four miles and then try to run the last mile at about 4:45 and we did that."

Seddon and Linton were joined by Harry Mulenga, their would-be teammate who competed unattached while awaiting clearance to compete from the NCAA. Together they mowed down race-long front-runners Ricardo Estremera and Robert Ormsby over the final mile, with Mulenga winning top individual honors in 25:02.9.

"Harry looked good in his debut," Braman said.

With two weeks before traveling to Wisconsin, Braman is still searching for the complementary pieces to round out his scoring lineup.

"I like what I see in practice, but right now…we're in a hunt for number five," Braman added. "If we're going to be a good time nationally we have to get better at No. 5. We have a lot of possibilities there."

Of course the first piece would be Mulenga, but other potential contributors could be Michael Hall and Grant Nykaza, who did not run, and perhaps Otniel Teixeira.

Mulenga wasn't the only member of the team running unattached. Freshmen Tyson Murray and Hunter Scott, who are redshirting this season, scored top-20 finished in the overall combined field of 188. Murray was 11th in 25:55.8 while Scott was 18th in 26:11.0, with each competing in their first 8000-meter race.

"Our young guys ran great, but they're redshirting," Braman said. "I thought Murray and Scott did a really nice job."

With FSU women's coach Kelly Phillips resting her top group after last week's meet in Boston, the Seminoles finished sixth overall in a tightly-scored meet, which Jacksonville University nipping Florida A&M 63-66 for the Division I team title.

"It was nice to see our young girls run and step up to be in the top five for us," Phillips said. "Claire Igoe had a great race and a big PR. Julia Corley, who has been with both groups this season, also had a nice PR. We also had a bunch of freshmen who came out for the first home meet and it's great for them to see what they have to do to step up and get to that next level."

Chelsea Jarvis (18th, 19:05.6) led the Seminoles, followed by Igoe (21st, 19:11.5), Corley (25th, 19:19.7) and Bella Poole (19:19.7). Teresa Ristow (34th, 19:39.0) rounded out the scoring five for the Noles.

Among non-Division I teams, Alabama-Huntsville claimed the team title by edging two-time defending champion Florida Southern (50-62) for the men's title. On the women's side, Embry-Riddle out-distanced Alabama-Huntsville 57-78 for top non-Division I honors.

Individually, the women's race went to Anne-Marie Blaney, who successfully defended her title by covering the 5000-meter course in 17:23.2. Blaney was competing unattached while sitting out a redshirt season at UCF. Second place also produced a repeat performance as USF's Catherine Blaney - sister of the winner - was the first official collegiate finisher in 17:54.8, duplicating her place from last season.

Place  Name                       Points   Time
=====  =========================  ======  ========
  18   Chelsea Jarvis                18   19:05.60
  21   Claire Igoe                   21   19:11.50
  25   Julia Corley                  25   19:19.30
  26   Bella Poole                   26   19:19.70
  34   Teresa Ristow                 34   19:39.00
  37   Carly Thomas                  37   19:46.40
  41   Tara Rooney                   41   19:54.50
  47   Alex Midgett                       20:02.00
  62   Hollis Bartlett                    20:41.40
  64   Kayla Thomas                       20:42.30
  65   Alyssa Hatton                      20:43.70
  67   Annie Kennedy                      20:47.80
  70   Haley Slocum                       20:53.10
  73   Mackenzie Baysinger                21:04.90
  75   Cecilia McMillan                   21:08.40
  76   Marianne Aguilar                   21:09.10
  84   Brittany Carey                     21:30.30
  88   Forever Young                      21:44.20
  89   Bridget Reid                       21:44.80
  90   Darien Halliday                    21:45.30
  92   Althea Hewitt                      22:03.70
  96   Melissa Zyla                       22:31.60
  99   Kellie Hays                        23:29.20
 101   Rachel Davis                       24:34.70

10/16/2015, Madison, Wi

From the FSU Website, seminoles.com.

Noles Claim Ranked Wins, Looking For More At ACC.
Cardama Baez, Goodwin lead way at Wisconsin Invitational.

MADISON, WI – The Florida State cross country teams arrived at Friday’s Wisconsin adidas Invitational eager to make room for themselves at the table of nationally ranked programs and likely NCAA Championship qualifiers.

The Seminoles left the Zimmer Championship Course even more confident that they belong; something they learned without quite accomplishing all they had hoped.

Freshman Carmela Cardama Baez finished 62nd to pace the women’s team to a 23rd-place finish in the field of 36, which included 20 of the nation’s top 25 teams. The Spaniard covered the 6000-meter course in 20:36.5, overhauling teammate Bridget Blake (74th, 20:43.5) over the final 800 meters for the top spot among Seminoles.

Unranked, like their male counterparts, the Seminole women counted wins over No. 14 Wisconsin and No. 20 West Virginia, and were within striking distance of North Carolina and Vanderbilt, who won the 2014 ACC and NCAA South Region titles.

FSU women’s coach Kelly Phillips hoped to get more from Georgia Peel (100th, 20:58.7), the team’s top finisher in the first three meets of the season, but received an outstanding performance from Christine Griggs (113th, 21:07.0). Courteney West (217th, 22:11.6) was the Seminoles’ fifth scorer.

“Carmela ran a great race; Griggs ran a great race,” Phillips said. “They both just kind of put their nose in it, hammered the whole way and were relentless in their pursuit. Bridget got out well, ran well and just ran out of gas the last 800 meters. That will be a different story at our [ACC] meet.

“The big takeaway is that we’re a much better team than we ran today…I think it’s the first time they walked away from a meet that we didn’t run well at. You need to have average once in a while to get you hungry again.”

The Seminole men whet their appetite for a strong finish to the season with an 18th-place team finish, which included wins over nationally ranked Stanford (No. 4), Oklahoma (No. 21), Ole Miss (No. 19), Princeton (No. 27) and Iowa State (No.26).

Leading the charge for the Seminoles was the quartet of Jack Goodwin (40th, 24:06.6), Zak Seddon (56th, 24:13.7), Harry Mulenga (67th, 24:16.2) and Stanley Linton (123rd, 24:33.8). In the case of Goodwin Seddon and Linton, they all eclipsed their previous best 8000-meter times.

Michael Hall (183rd, 25:00.1) rounded out the scorers for FSU’s 469-point total against a field which included 17 or the nation’s top 30 ranked schools.

“There’s a lot of good to the big-picture,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “We beat the No. 1 team in the region [Ole Miss] pretty handily and we beat some really quality teams, so we handled the pressure pretty good. We had some missed opportunities as well. We had a chance to be in the top 10 or 12 and that would have been big, big points.

“This years’ race was a much higher quality race. Last year we had 296 points and we were ninth place. This year 300-and-something points was sixth place. It was definitely a stacked field.”

The Seminoles followed Braman’s script from the start, but suffered in the later stages when they had to navigate a sizeable incline from 5000-to-6000 meters.

“We got out and that was our plan,” said Braman, whose Seminoles were as high as fourth place after 2000 meters and ninth through 4000 meters. “Deal with being at the front of the pack and being able to see the leaders; see the open spaces in front of you. We did a good job of that kept four runners up there a long time. What we didn’t do very well, is the back stretch on the hill really pounded us pretty good. We took a punch in the gut on the hill and we started to lose points.”

Braman was largely pleased with the performances of senior co-captains Goodwin and Seddon, and wasn’t completely surprised that junior college transfer Harry Mulenga wasn’t as good as he will be in his first race as a Seminole against a stacked field dealing with chilly and windy conditions for the first time.

He also needs Linton to gain the confidence that his talent portends and move closer to the lead trio.

“I see the [glass] half-full side of this for sure,” Braman added. “We walk out of this and can say, ‘No questions asked, we can definitely qualify for nationals. We’re good enough to be 1 or 2 in the region, and we’re good enough to beat some good teams in the conference.

“Are we ready for NC State, Virginia and Syracuse? Not yet. Boy our conference looked good today.”

Led by two-time defending ACC champion and No. 2 Syracuse’s win, the conference grabbed three of the top six team finishes. Virginia was fourth and NC State placed sixth.

The ACC women weren’t bad either, with Virginia and NC State finishing third and fourth, with Syracuse and Notre Dame 11th and 12th and defending champion North Carolina 19th.<

Place  Name                       Points   Time
=====  =========================  ======  ========
  62   Carmela Cardama Baez          62   20:36.5 
  74   Bridget Blake                 74   20:43.5 
 100   Georgia Peel                 100   20:58.7 
 113   Christine Griggs             113   21:07.0 
 217   Courteney West               217   22:11.6 
 227   Fatema Jaffer                227   22:28.8 
 244   Chelsea Jarvis               244   23:54.1 

10/16/2015, Tuscaloosa, Al

Place  Name                       Points   Time
=====  =========================  ======  ========
  84   Sarah Candiano                68   18:36.59
 102   Katie Slater                  81   18:51.34
 113   Jessica Lonas                 89   18:58.56
 130   Teresa Ristow                101   19:11.88
 132   Bella Poole                  102   19:12.66
 135   Julia Corley                 104   19:15.03
 136   Tara Rooney                  105   19:16.73
 168   Carly Thomas                       19:41.26
 172   Alex Midgett                       19:49.10
 184   Haley Slocum                       20:03.69
 197   Annie Kennedy                      20:28.76

10/30/2015, TALLAHASSEE, FL

From the FSU Website, seminoles.com.

FSU Trio Claims All-ACC XC Honors On Home Course.
Mulenga, Linton and Baez lead Noles to seventh-place finishes.

TALLAHASSEE, FL – With grit and determination, Harry Mulenga flashed his enormous potential. Local standout Stanley Linton rose to the occasion on what is likely his final collegiate cross country race at home. Precocious freshman Carmela Cardama Baez executed with a precision and fight, belying her age and diminutive stature.

Florida State’s cross country teams did not come away from Friday morning’s Atlantic Coast Conference Championships with the kind of team finishes they had hoped, but there were plenty of highlights on a sun-splashed dash at Apalachee Regional Park.

Mulenga and Linton claimed All-ACC honors, finishing 11th (23:56.9) and 19th (24:13.1) against a loaded field on the 8,000-meter course to lead the Seminole men to a seventh-place team finish.

Baez mowed down the competition over the final loop of the 6,000-meter race, climbing from 27th to finish ninth (20:30.1), and pace the women to a seventh-place team finish.

On a day when the conference’s four nationally-ranked men’s teams and five nationally-ranked women’s teams put on a fierce battle, the Noles were not quite up to the task of butting heads with the best.

“What you always look for, as long as you still have life, you look for those positives,” FSU men’s coach Bob Braman said. “The next race [NCAA South Region] is more important than this race, so how did we get better? Stanley just finally put it all together like we knew he could and had just a phenomenal race. Harry really ran tough. He put himself in that lead pack. He’s not fit enough – yet – to finish the job, but he fought like a son-of-a-gun and did a really good job.”

The Seminole men, who hoped to chase a top-three finish, were at a decided disadvantage when Braman was forced to scratch Jack Goodwin after the pre-race warmup due to injury. Goodwin was FSU’s top returning finisher at the meet last season, placing 12th. Fellow senior co-captain Zak Seddon was unable to must a repeat of his 16th-place finish last season, coming home 38th.

“Zak put a lot of pressure on himself to finish in the top 10 and he’s probably the one guy on the team who is trained and tired,” Braman said. “He missed his buddy. He and Jack work together every time. They like to get out fast…I think that hurt Zak.

“If Jack’s calf is fine, then we’re better than we were at Wisconsin, and that’s what you’re looking for.”

Grant Nykaza (52nd) and Michael Hall (58th) rounded out FSU’s scoring five, which totaled 172 points.

Syracuse won its third consecutive men’s title, placing three in the top five to finish with 46 points, while Virginia Tech senior Thomas Curtin set the course record en route to victory in 23:23.0.

Baez was clearly the Seminoles’ star of the day, building on her solid showing at Wisconsin two weeks ago for ninth overall; one of five freshmen to place in the top nine on the day.

“Carmela ran a very controlled, smart, mature race,” FSU women’s coach Kelly Phillips said. “She is a tremendous racer. Overall, while the team certainly wasn’t where we might expect to be, we had a lot of great first-time performers.

“For the majority of the team, this was their first ACC meet. Moving forward, there is a lot to be excited about.”

Seminoles Bridget Blake (29th), Christine Griggs (30th) and Georgia Peel (40th) were followed by Fatema Jaffer (67th), bringing the team total to 172, which matched the men.

Notre Dame’s Molly Seidel set a new course record, winning in 19:36.2, while Virginia claimed its first team title since 1982, edging NC State by four points.

Perhaps the bigger story on the day was the reception the course received from the athletes and ACC coaches, as well as how the meet was conducted. With a national television audience courtesy ESPN3’s live broadcast, Florida State earned high marks as the park hosted its first conference championship.

“It was just a phenomenal production,” Braman said. “Florida State should be proud. Our facilities people, led by Alex Thomas, just did fantastic.

“We had unbelievable feedback. People loved the course. We had people talk about this being the permanent ACC course. Syracuse’s Chris Fox, the superstar coach in the conference right now, tweeted something out. Rollie Geiger likes it and that’s the dean of ACC coaches.”

Place  Name                       Points   Time
=====  =========================  ======  ========
   9   Carmela Cardama Baez           9   20:30.1 
  29   Bridget Blake                 29   21:02.3 
  30   Christine Griggs              30   21:03.5 
  40   Georgia Peel                  39   21:21.8 
  67   Fatema Jaffer                 65   22:03.8 
  93   Courteney West                85   22:27.0 
  94   Sarah Candiano                86   22:29.1 
 118   Teresa Ristow                      23:07.3 
 127   Jessica Lonas                      23:43.9 

11/13/2015, Tuscaloosa, Al

From the FSU Website, seminoles.com.

Men’s Cross Country Wins Region; Women Fourth.
Five men, three women earn All-South Region honors.

TUSCALOOSA, AL – The ultimate destination for every collegiate cross country team – the NCAA Championships – requires an outstanding performance in the season’s penultimate meet.

Florida State’s men and women summoned their best collective efforts of the season at Friday’s NCAA South Region Championships, and the Seminole men are heading back to NCAA Championships for the 12th time in 13 years after claiming the team title.

Harry Mulenga finished third at the Harry Pritchett Running Park and the next four scoring Seminoles all placed within the top 16 as FSU edged Ole Miss, 58-62. Zak Seddon (12th), Jack Goodwin (13th), Stanley Linton (14th) and Grant Nykaza (16th) each earned All-Region honors.

The Seminole women, who came into the meet ranked seventh in the South Region, finished fourth; just four points out of third place. Freshman Carmela Cardama Baez led the way, placing 11th for All-Region honors along with teammates Bridget Blake (19th) and Christine Griggs (20th). With only the top two teams advancing to the NCAA Championships, the Seminoles’ streak of nine consecutive appearances came to a close.

It wasn’t for a lack of effort.

“Especially for us seniors leaving, the most you can ask from your team is to give it your all, and I can tell all of them did,” Griggs said. “Knowing that you’re teammates gave it 100-percent, even if you didn’t make it to nationals, that’s all you can ask.”

First-year women’s coach Kelly Phillips could not have been happier with the performance from a group that included just two seniors - Griggs and Georgia Peel (27th).

“I was really excited for them,” Phillips said. “I know we are used to being top-two all of the time and so I’m sure for the older girls it’s like, ‘(sigh) we weren’t.’ Being seventh coming in and everyone running their best – and they really ran as a team, which was the plan – we can’t help but be excited for the future.”

The immediate future for the Seminole men will include a trip to Louisville, Ky. for next Saturday’s championship race. The top-ranked team in the region coaches’ poll, FSU has faced all kinds of uncertainty throughout the season.

Goodwin sat out the ACC meet with a leg injury and it was uncertain whether he would run until Thursday. Mulenga battled health and NCAA clearance issues from the time he arrived on campus. And then there was the matter of coach Bob Braman finding a fifth scorer behind a strong front four.

Friday, it all came together.

“It’s really special,” Braman said. “You’re trying to put this piece in and put that piece in…To come together with guys like Grant, who has been fighting it for years and has struggled. His confidence has come together and his training has come together, but why can’t those two just match? They finally did. That was big for us. That’s the two-time Foot Locker kid out of Illinois we recruited.

“Jack runs more miles today than he has the last 10 days. That’s a real - knock-on-wood - he’s back kind of thing. We had a lot of good fortune; a lot of guys with a lot of confidence and belief in each other. That was a big deal today.”

FSU’s formidable front four pack shaped up nicely right behind the leaders from the midway point to the finish, with Nykaza not only joining the fray, but showing the mettle to stay there. The Noles would not have won had the junior not come through.

Through the first four finishers across the line, Ole Miss held a four edge over FSU. Nykaza beat the Rebels fifth scorer to the finish by eight spots for the difference.

“I finally feel good after a race about my performance,” said Nykaza, a junior whose career has been marred by injuries. “Coach has been mentioning all year, ‘We need a 5, we need a 5.’ For me to perform like I should have been the last couple years and to get to the point of the postseason races, there’s nothing else I could ask for…

“I just wanted to run strong and I knew if I ran strong I would be right where I wanted to. This is the best my legs have felt the whole season. I’ve been waiting to get to this taper stage for the last three years and to perform like I did on a day like today, I’m super excited.”

So were Nykaza’s teammates.

“Grant has been putting the pieces together in training and it’s nice to see him come out today and race like he’s been training,” Goodwin said. “We all know what the team is capable of and sometimes it’s a bit disheartening when we see boys do so well in training and not so well on the race course. Today we came through and did the business. That’s what we’re all about…

“We ran really strong as a team. We got out. No one panicked…It’s a full 10k now and that’s a big difference. Obviously we packed really well. We came through.”

With just 36 seconds separating Mulenga and Nykaza, the Seminoles’ pack mentality paid off handsomely.

FSU’s women used a similar strategy behind Baez, with Griggs, Blake and Peel working together, followed by the trio of freshmen Sarah Candiano and Fatema Jaffer, and junior Courteney West.

Responding to an in-race challenge by the coaches, Candiano delivered a season-best performance as the Seminoles’ fifth scorer, placing 69th overall.

Vanderbilt claimed its second consecutive women’s title with 65 points, followed by Mississippi State (78). Alabama was third with 135, followed by FSU (139).

“We all performed quite well in this championship and despite the fact that we’re not in the national [championship], this season we all had to make a lot of adjustments – a new coach, a new routine, new teammates,” Baez said. “In this race we were really a team, and I think this is just the start of a really good team and good things.”

Though she came within three spots of qualifying for NCAA’s as an individual, Baez was not the least disappointed with what has been an outstanding season.

“Going to the NCAA would be great, but I’m also happy with what I have,” she said. “I’m just a freshman and being 11th in a regional and ninth in the ACC, that’s more than what I was even thinking about achieving.

“There are a lot of years to come and I know I’m going to have a lot of nationals and hopefully the next time I won’t be fighting for my own number – going alone - the next time we’ll fighting to go as a team.”

While acknowledging that the NCAA Championship meet is the most important on the schedule, Braman wanted his team to soak in what it accomplished.

“That was gratifying seeing this whole thing come together,” Braman said. “Winning the region against a good Ole Miss team that was ranked top 10 preseason in everybody’s poll, that’s a quality win and we were kind of needing a quality win with all the ups and downs all year.”

“There’s no greater feeling,” Nykaza added. “This group of guys is just incredible. We’re great friends and great teammates. This is such an awesome family to be a part of.”

Place  Name                       Points   Time
=====  =========================  ======  ========
  11   Carmela Cardama Baez          10   20:35.38
  19   Bridget Blake                 18   20:54.04
  20   Christine Griggs              19   20:54.62
  27   Georgia Peel                  26   21:05.65
  69   Sarah Candiano                66   21:52.77
  83   Courteney West                79   22:08.37
  93   Fatema Jaffer                 88   22:22.68