TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Hot and steamy conditions, less than ideal for fast times, did not diminish the competitive environment for Friday evening’s Florida State Invitational cross country meet at Apalachee Regional Park.
While both the Florida State men and women elected to train through the meet without the services of their complete varsity squads, each came through with some solid individual performances, translating to runner-up finishes in the 17-team field.
“The weather completely changed the event, at least in terms of what I thought our kids and some of the other teams’ kids were ready to run – easily 5-10 seconds (slower) a mile,” FSU men’s coach Bob Braman said. “It was really hot and muggy.”
The evening’s action began with the women competing in the 5-kilometer race. FSU graduate student Jackie Drouin, running unattached, pulled away for the individual victory in a course record 17:30.23. Astrid Leutert, who like Drouin only has outdoor track & field eligibility remaining with the Seminoles, was third in 17:47.21.
FSU women’s coach Karen Harvey’s scoring squad was led by redshirt freshman Chelsi Woodruff (18:00.76), who was sixth overall and followed closely by junior teammate Kaitlyn Iselborn (18:09.21) in eighth. Freshman Linden Hall was 11th (18:13.95) and followed by Kailand Cosgrove (17th, 18:41.94) and Kara Taylor (18th, 18:51.13) to round out the scoring.
“It was great to see almost our entire team out there – our Strider program and our next eight on our A-team,” said Harvey, who sent 31 Seminoles in FSU singlets into action. “It was a lot to watch.”
Harvey told her team to take a conservative approach early on in the heat and finish strong.
“As a group, even though it was super humid this year, I thought we ran better than we did last year,” Harvey added. “They listened to instructions and were able to navigate through some tough conditions.
“I’m really pleased with Chelsi. She’s making a lot of improvements and is looking to be in our top seven. She’s our solid eighth runner. That takes a lot on our team.”
The FSU women finished second, 10 points behind UNF, which captured its first FSU Invitational team title with 40 points.
Braman’s men also settled for a runner-up finish, coming up 18 points shy of Auburn’s winning total of 38. The Tigers got a 1-2 finish from Kane Grimster (25:30.11) and Niklas Buhner (25:35.19).
Florida State redshirt freshman Marc Akbar (25:49.01) and Jacob Brooks (25:54.98) – a pair of Florida natives running in front of family and friends – led the way, finishing eighth and ninth, respectively. It was a strong bounce-back effort by the duo, which labored through the late stages of last week’s Clemson Invitational Pre-ACC meet.
“Akbar and Brooks struggled a little be in Pre-ACC’s and they both competed really well today,” Braman said. “Akbar kicked Brooks down in the end. Brooks was going big or going home. He really went after it. Akbar really looked good and moved through. The kid looks very comfortable.
“I’m real pleased with those guys and of course they both earned a trip to go to Notre Dame now. We’ll be able to run nine guys up there under much cooler, faster conditions. We’ll see what they can do.”
Seth Proctor (11th, 25:59.45), Sean Quinn (16th, 26:23.48) and John Grellner (22nd, 26:36.98) rounded out the Seminole scorers.
On a day when the weather conditions led all the coaches to put more stock in performance as opposed to the stopwatch, Braman could not have been happier.
“I thought we had a great meet,” he said. “I thought we had a really, really good meet. The course has been the best it’s been and I think it will be in great shape tomorrow. The county did a lot of work, our Florida State people did a lot of work on it.
“I was real, real pleased with [the performance]. We wanted to run as many varsity guys as we could without affecting their eligibility for the fans that came out. We had a real good crowd. … I thought we competed well. I’m not worried about the times.”
Day two of the Florida State Invitational gets underway at 7:45 a.m. when the starting gun sends runners from the first of six high school races off on the ARP trails. More than 1,000 high school runners, including some of the top-ranked programs and individuals from Florida and Georgia, will compete.