We are aware that certain conferences and universities will not be competing this fall due to ongoing concerns surrounding COVID-19. However, for the sake of content, we have constructed these rankings as if a regular cross country season will happen.
Things are looking very, very promising for the women of Florida State.
Coach Kelly Phillips has developed a strong team led by numerous veterans which now have the experience to not only jump into the top-10 of the national ranks, but would have had a chance to battle for a podium spot during a normal year.
Depending on how the ACC conducts cross country meets this fall, the Florida State women will still have a chance to turn some heads.
* * *
The first two meets on Florida State’s 2019 schedule were easily won without much of a problem. Different athletes paced the team, but each time out, their pack was strong and finished within spitting distance of one another.
Their first true test of the season came at Notre Dame’s Joe Piane Invitational where they finished an eyebrow-raising 3rd place overall. Veteran Maudie Skyring was the first runner across the line in 17th, a big improvement from where she finished during the 2018 season. More so, their 2-3-4-5 runners were only separated by eight seconds with Jodie Judd and Elizabeth Funderburk placing 22nd and 23rd overall while Addison Coggins and Lauren Ryan finished 33rd and 34th.
Joe Piane was a majorly successful start to the season for the FSU women as they showed up front scoring potency and great strength in their pack running.
The Blazer Classic and Pre-Nationals fell on the same weekend, leaving FSU to make a few lineup adjustments. Jodie Judd took the win at the Blazer Classic by a solid 13 seconds and led the team to the overall victory.
While the Seminoles were defeating teams in Alabama, other members of the squad were throwing together solid performances in Terre Haute at Pre-Nationals. Elizabeth Funderburk took the lead for the team that day, finishing a strong 11th place overall behind many national-caliber athletes.
Admittedly, their time spread was far larger at this meet compared to Joe Piane and the gaps in their lineup left them vulnerable to some excessive scoring. Even so, they locked down a respectable 5th place finish.
* * *
The 'Noles ventured into the postseason and took aim at the NC State women when they toed line for the ACC Championships. While they weren't able to take down the Wolfpack, the women of Florida State held their own and scored 76 points, good for 2nd place.
At the third big meet in a row, a new member of FSU led the team. This time it was Lauren Ryan who came out of nowhere to throw down a huge 6th place finish. She was closely followed by Funderburk and Skyring, two women who both secured top-10 finishes.
A 38 second spread among their top five highlighted an impressive outing for this team.
Finishing 1st as a team at the South Regional Championships was not surprising based on how well the Seminoles had competed during the regular season. The team’s top five scorers were all within the top-15 which easily earned them an automatic qualifying spot to the National Championships.
At the NCAA Championships, Judd, Skyring and Rebecca Clark all placed within five seconds of one another, earning finishes of 62nd, 69th and 76th, respectively. Not too far behind were Funderburk (101st) and Addison Coggins (112th) who were three seconds apart.
FSU had a top-five time spread of only 18 seconds, a great low number that helped them place 12th as a team. However, they needed more firepower up front and an All-American weapon to get them to the next level.
* * *
You might be wondering why we went into such great detail about their 2019 season.
The reason is simply because all of the women mentioned above are back for another season (or two) at Florida State. The only woman we didn't mention was Megan Mooney, the team's seventh runner at the NCAA Championships and an occasional backend scorer during the season. She no longer has cross country eligibility and has since moved to Colorado State as a graduate transfer.
In total, Florida State returns six of their top seven from last year.
There are a handful of women in this program that have what it takes to place within the top 50 at NCAA’s (or even earn All-American honors) after what they accomplished last season. This team as a whole is on a new level after going from not qualifying for NCAA’s in 2018 to beating nationally ranked teams in 2019.
Elizabeth Funderburk (TSR #43) and Maudie Skyring (TSR #50) are two high-quality talents who were expected to be veteran low-sticks for this team in 2020. Each woman had great moments throughout the 2019 season which suggested that they would be All-American contenders, such as Skyring placing 17th at Joe Piane and Funderburk placing 11th at Pre-Nationals.
During the indoor track season, Skyring also threw down an impressive 4:37 mile PR and qualified for the (eventually cancelled) Indoor National Championships. Funderburk, meanwhile, ran 16:05 for 5000 meters (which was also a PR).
Both of these women are two legitimate front-runners. For the most part, they were very consistent throughout last year and could have easily been All-Americans in 2020. We feel very confident about the scoring stability that they bring to this team.
* * *
We then come to Lauren Ryan, a promising young athlete who made a major splash for this team last year after transferring from Villanova.
Ryan had a respectable junior season, but her 34th place finish at Joe Piane and incredible breakout performance at ACC's (where she finished 6th) indicated that she could eventually be a low-stick for this team in the future. However, she'll need to replicate that incredible ACC race on a more consistent basis if that is to be the case.
As only a freshman, Rebecca Clark slowly worked her way into the Seminoles' top seven. She wasn't the standout scorer that some of the older runners proved to be, but the rookie showcased a ton of exciting upside after securing a huge 79th place finish at NCAA Championships.
That result made her the third FSU runner across the line in Terre Haute. She would prove that that performance wasn't just a fluke after running a new personal best of 16:34 for 5000 meters on the indoor oval this past winter.
As we move to Jodie Judd, we find her in a unique spot where she helped bridge the gap between the team's top scorers and the rest of their lineup throughout the 2019 season. Her 22nd place finish at Joe Piane was extremely promising and her 62nd place finish at the national meet made her the top scorer on the team.
Judd should not be overlooked in terms of what she brings to the table. She has enough potential to join the likes of Skyring and Funderburk in our TSR individual rankings if she can just make a few minor improvements.
We finally come to Addison Coggins, an underrated and experienced veteran who stabilized the scoring for this FSU lineup at their biggest meets of the season. She was 33rd at Joe Piane and 26th at Pre-Nationals. Coggins also placed 7th at the South Regional Championships.
She may not be the same All-American threat that a few of these other women are, but she is an exceptional talent and some people may not realize just how valuable she is as a scorer.
* * *
With only Megan Mooney leaving this 2019 varsity team, Florida State still appears to be in great shape for whenever they return to competition. This veteran-heavy roster will be relied upon to get the younger runners up to speed with training and a pack mentality that served them well last fall.
We should also mention the incoming freshmen of Rebecca Bergnes, Alyson Churchill, Caitlin Wilkey and Kate Tugman who all have the potential to compete with the other ladies of this Florida State roster to fill the empty spot left by Mooney.
Of these freshmen listed above, Churchill owns the best times in the 1600 meters and 3200 meters, owning marks of 4:54 and 10:23, respectively. However, the other three women still have the ability to grow and develop.
This would also be the part of the article where we highlight a team's weaknesses and talk about how they can be better. But truthfully, there isn't one thing in particular that truly sticks out for this team.
Yes, the backend portions of their 2019 lineup could have been a bit more consistent. They also would have benefitted from having a few proven All-American runners to give the front of this lineup a bit more of a spark. But it's hard to look at last year's team and point to a singular glaring flaw. Truthfully, Florida State doesn't really have one.
Overall, they just need to continue their progress and fix some inconsistency at a few spots of their lineup. If they do that (which seems plenty reasonable), they'll go from being a great team to one of the best squads in the country.
* * *
The bottom line here is that Florida State is in a good spot heading into 2020. There may not be a national meet this fall, but it wouldn't have come as a surprise to see this team emerge on the podium in November.