FSU women’s cross country eyes South Region repeat

Kelly Phillips isn’t shy about sharing her expectations for the Florida State women’s cross country team in Friday’s NCAA South Region meet.

“Want to have seven in the top 25,” said Phillips, in her fifth season as coach. “I want to have all of them in the all-region. Which is a little greedy on my part, but I still want it.”

There is a reason to be confident, too. The Seminoles return All-Region performers like Elizabeth Funderburk, Maudie Skyring, Jodie Judd and Megan Mooney from last year’s team that won the region. FSU is ranked No. 1 in the south region and looks to capture the title in the 6,000-meter race on Friday at 8:30 a.m. at the Apalachee Regional Park, which is about eight miles south of the Florida capitol building.

FSU, which is ranked 12th nationally, took runner-up to NC State at the ACC Championships as Villanova transfer Lauren Ryan took sixth place in the individual standings. Funderburk (eighth) and Skyring (10th) also gave FSU three of the top-10 finishers.

FSU has been very good at home, taking second at the FSU Invitational at the Apalachee Regional Park a few weeks ago as well as taking the 2018 South Region title on their home course.

The Seminoles have gone from something of an underdog to one of the best teams in nation.

“Coming in, we are definitely very confident,” Skyring said. “Our goal is to come first. And I think we would be definitely upset if we came in anything less than first. We have the experience and we know what we need to do to get that position.”

While Phillips would like to see her girls all get in the top 25, she feels like there is plenty of depth that will help put the Seminoles in position to take the team title.

“We are so prepared and we are so deep that if we lose one or two it isn’t the end of the world,” Phillips said. “This year, it’s kind of like, if we don’t win, we kind of screwed up. It’s fun but still nerve-wracking. You want to be amazing on your own course.”

The FSU men are ranked fourth in the south and are looking to claim one of two team spots in the south region meet, which will feature a 10,000-meter race held on Friday at 9:30 a.m. FSU has a tough task ahead with Mississippi and Middle Tennessee among the top teams ahead in the rankings.

FSU is led by Southern Utah grad transfer Kasey Knevelbaard, who finished in 13th at the ACC Championships as he bounced back from getting knocked down in the opening mile. Paul Stafford took 17th at the ACC Championships, an improvement of 47 spots from his freshman season.

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