BOONE, N.C. – The nationally-ranked Florida State men’s and women’s cross country teams turned in winning efforts at their season opener Friday in the Covered Bridge Invitational.
Sophomore Linden Hall and Jessica Butler provided the fourth-ranked Seminole women with a 1-2 finish as coach Karen Harvey’s scaled-back squad rolled to a win against a field which included full squads from host Appalachian State, North Carolina, East Tennessee State and Northern Kentucky. The Seminoles placed four runners in the top 10 to outdistance the runner-up Mountaineers 38-46 for the team title.
The 10th-ranked Florida State men put four runners across the line in the first 11 positions to beat the field with a 35-point total. Appalachian State was second with 41 points. First-year Seminole Paul Lagno finished with a closing kick that left him second overall in 25:15.2 over 8 kilometers. Senior Breandan O Neill and redshirt freshman Will Bridges were fourth and fifth in 25:23.9 and 25:25.6, respectively.
“I thought we did a pretty good job,” FSU men’s coach Bob Braman said. “It was hot. When the girls ran it was worse than the guys. … We did exactly what we tried to do: go out easy and lift a little in the end.”
Both teams demonstrated depth as both Harvey and Braman elected to put the majority of their most seasoned runners through a tempo run, rather than roll out their full squads. Veteran women’s standouts – seniors Amanda Winslow, Violah Lagat and Kayleigh Tyerman, and sophomores Colleen Quigley and Aubree Worden – provided moral support for their teammates on the course.
Hall, a native of Melbourne, Australia, posted the first collegiate victory of her career in 18:14.3 over the 5-kilometer course, edging Butler by .4 at the line. It was the Seminole debut for Butler, a graduate student who starred at the University of Tampa, with a year of eligibility remaining. Another first-year Seminole, freshman Carly Thomas, finished sixth overall in 18:44.8.
“I was thrilled to see a really improved Linden Hall race today,” Harvey said. “What a transformation from last fall. Our newcomers Jessica Butler and Carly Thomas competed hard and wore their FSU colors proudly”
Senior Jessica Parry (10th, 18:55.3), sophomore Chelsi Woodruff (22nd, 19:50.3) and freshman Christine Griggs (23rd, 19:56.5) rounded out the Seminoles in the field.