TALLAHASSEE - The Florida State men's cross country finished second in Saturday's NCAA South Region meet at Auburn to earn an automatic spot in the NCAA championship meet for the first time since 1981.
"We missed it (second) by one point two years ago, so this is exciting," said coach Bob Braman, the ACC coach of the year and the former longtime USF coach. "This was our best race of the year."
Junior Joep Tigchelaar was second (30:11.08) in the 10K race, leading five Seminoles in the top 18. Freshman Luke Beevor, a 6-9 freshman from England, finished 18th overall despite a hamstring injury. Georgia, top-ranked in the region, won the meet. The top teams from each of the nine regions along with 13 at-large teams advance to the Nov. 24 finale.
"I don't know if we would have made it as an at large, but we don't have to worry about it now," Braman said.
Meanwhile, the FSU women finished second behind Tennessee for a second straight NCAA berth as senior Vicky Gill defended her region title, winning her 6K race (19:48.04) by nearly a minute.
"That's a (personal record) for Vicky," Braman said, also lauding junior Rachel Marsh. "She's usually our sixth runner, but she was (our) fifth and ran a lifetime best by about 30 seconds (22:01.07, 34th overall). She really saved us."
The women were 28th last year at the NCAA championship. In 1981, the men were eighth.
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The Florida men's team placed third and the women were seventh. Neither automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships, but junior Steve Zieminski received an individual automatic bid.
Zieminski was Florida's top finisher, sixth, in 30:27.99. Carling Cooerkly was the top UF women's finisher, 32nd, in 21:56.29.
The USF men were 11th. Adam Chumbley was 20th in 31:05.53 and Sean Burris was 24th in 31:11.03. The USF women were eighth. Bente General was fourth in 20:53.57 and received an automatic bid to the NCAA championship. Christa Benton of St. Petersburg was 12th in 21:21:04 and Jessica Hellender was 19th in 21:34.56.
Miami sophomore Alex Brutvan finished 57th in 32:09.11 and the men finished 16th. The UM women also finished 16th.
TAMPA BEATS LYNN: The host Spartans defeated conference opponent Lynn to clinch at least a shared conference title with Barry University. It is the eighth consecutive time Tampa (28-3, 13-1 SSC) has won or shared the Sunshine State Conference title. The Spartans won 30-25, 31-29, 30-18, led by Ania Ruiz with 23 kills.
SAINT LEO LOSES: Rollins College beat Saint Leo 30-28, 30-16, 36-34 in the season finale for both. Junior Alison Baker led Saint Leo (2-12, 11-19) with 15 kills, six digs and a .522 hitting percentage.
ECKERD FALLS: The host Tritons (17-15, 4-10 SSC) ended their season by losing to Barry 30-22, 30-24 and 30-17.
- Information from Times wires was used in this report.