Monday, August 5, 2013

NCAA XC Top 31 Countdown: Men's #18- Florida State

Editor's note: For the next month, The Wood Report will be counting down projected team finishes in this year's NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, IN.

Florida State
Head Coach: Bob Braman (14th Season)
2012 National Finish- 5th

Key Returners from 2012
  • Jakub Zivec (Sr., 21st NCAA XC '12, 3:44 1500m, 8:04 Open 3k, 14:10 5k) 
  • Zak Seddon (So., 3:45 1500m, 8:34 3k Steeple)

Impact Recruits/Transfers
  • Bryant Blahnik (Jr., 14:25 5k, 30:09 10k, 11th SEC XC '12)
  • Glen Yarham (Jr., 14:07 5k, 15th World Junior XC '11)
  • Kevin Johnson (Sr., 14:26 5k, 30:10 10k) 
  • Grant Nykaza (Fr., 9:07 3200m, 2 X FL Finalist) 

Season Preview

After a very impressive finish to 2012 where the Seminoles won the South Regional and went on to place 5th as a team at NCAAs (#2 highest finish ever), only two of those that scored for them at Nats return. Somehow, Coach Braman has managed to acquire several key transfers that will keep the 'Noles relevant on the national level in 2013. 

The key to any success that FSU will have lies in Zivec. He is one of the top seniors returning in the country from last season and is their leader. An injury-filled track season kept him out of competition in the spring. If Zivec can get back to his fitness from 2012 and stay healthy, he is one of the best low-sticks in the country. 

Another critical piece to the FSU NCAAs puzzle is the other returner Zak Seddon. Following his somewhat sub-par finish to the cross country season, Seddon broke out in track where he became one of the nation's finest steeplers in the country. His PR of 8:34 is very good for a freshman and that should translate into much better cross country performance in 2013. In fact, with him and Zivec leading the way up front, that is a very good 1-2 and both Zivec and Seddon are likely to be All-American. 

The rest of any hope to make the National Championships this season lies in a slew of very good transfers and recruits coming in for this season. Glen Yarham of Australia is the most likely option to step in right away and make an immediate impact. He has had very good experience competing as a junior, placing well in the World Junior XC Meet in 2011. He has solid track PRs to go with his ability in cross which will benefit him as the season goes on. 

Bryant Blahnik transferred from Missouri and is also a good cross guy who placed 11th at SECs in 2012. The ACC is brutally tough this season and for him to repeat what he did in 2012 at the SECs in 2013 in his new conference, would be amazing. Regardless, he is a very good pack runner for the 'Noles and will be counted on to keep the 1-5 spread close. 

Kevin Johnson is a very untapped and talented graduate student who is coming from Cornell. An injury-laden career has kept him out of really spreading his wings in the NCAA, but if healthy he could be the darkhorse of this team. Grant Nykaza is a very experienced incoming freshman having made two Foot Locker Finals. Any help from him is definitely icing on the cake, but that kind of experience at the highest level in high school, will certainly benefit him on the next level. 

Coach Braman always gets his guys ready to roll when it matters. The surprise fifth place finish in 2012 and the shocking second place finish at NCAAs in 2010 are indicators of his ability to peak his athletes at the right time. If anyone can pull a group like this together and make them great, he can do it. A core group of solid athletes with a very good 1-2, if healthy, can lead these 'Noles back to Terre Haute in 2013. 

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