Florida State and Susan Kuijken return to the ACC Championships as the overwhelming favorites to repeat. Kuijken of the Netherlands may have her closest rival in new teammate Pasca Cheruiyot from Kenya. Kuijken is an NCAA champion in track and has been the runner-up at the cross-country national meet. Her Florida State teammates are strong as well. They were 2nd at Pre-Nats this year and are a legitimate top 5 team in the NCAA.
#11 Virginia and #16 Duke have strong women's teams but won't match the firepower of an under-ranked #6 Florida State. Virginia and Duke tied for 4th in 2008 and likely will battle for second this Saturday on NC State's course.
Men's Race - Virginia Favored To Repeat
Defending champions Virginia have an optimistic #11 national ranking and are undefeated on the season. Employee #1's favorite distance coach in the NCAA, Jason Vigilante, has kept his Cavaliers out of the big meets, running relatively small, low-key meets with minimal travel. The Panorama Farms Invite upped the ante with Villanova and Syracuse attending, and the Cavs were gracious but merciless hosts to the northern Big East foes. Emil Heineking had the race of his life and won in a Galen Rupp-esque 23:16 with a 20-second margin of victory over a tough field. UVA put 5 under 24:06 and defeated the Orangemen despite the 'Cuse putting five under 24:03. You can see the results here.
While the #12 Cavs have stayed close to home and avoided the monster meets, #21 Florida State and #30 NC State mixed it up with bigger fields in Terre Haute at Pre-Nats. Somehow NC State got hammered in the polls despite running well for 9th-place in their section while Florida State stayed at #21 with an 8th-place finish in their section. The average time for the teams was 24:37 (FSU) and 24:42 (NC St). Both the 'Noles and the 'Cats have two great front-runners in Matt Leeder and Daniel Roberts (FSU) and Ryan Hill and John Martinez (NC St).
UVA on paper has this meet in the bag. Heineking and teammates Graham Tribble and Ryan Collins ran very fast two weeks ago and they have great support at 4 and 5. But they ran at home on a super-flat course under nice conditions. Out at Pre-Nats, Florida State and NC State had much bigger time spreads from 1-5 but were running on a tougher course in colder conditions. NC State, underappreciated by the voting coaches, is going to be hosting the ACC meet and will be running with that extra kick of confidence. We can say all we want about NC State and Florida State, but UVA have shown they are the team to beat. They have traveled the least yet raced top competition in a conference championship-sized meet. They have the best coach in the conference. They have the confidence and the focus to again win the individual and team titles.
Surprise Top Returner
Virginia Tech's Devin Cornwall is the top returner in the ACC. He finished 3rd last year. This year his most recent result was an 11th-place finish at Chile Pepper.
Virginia, Heineking take ACC titles. NC State with John Martinez and Ryan Hill take 2nd on home course over FSU.
FSU, Kuijken win again in a blowout.
ACC Men's Stats Boston College (2008 - tie 6th) Doyle, Ted (76th ACC 2008, 51st returner) Kiracofe, Ryan (55th ACC 2008, 36th returner) Wheat, Justin (71st ACC 2008, 48th returner) Clemson (2008 - 9th) Morey, Tyler (53rd ACC 2008, 35th returner) Noble, Will (21st ACC 2008, 12th returner) Slate, Chris (67th ACC 2008, 45th returner) Sunde, Jonathan (39th ACC 2008, 26th returner) Duke (2008 - 5th) In 2009 - 3rd Griak, 4th Panorama Farms Brewer, Josh (31st ACC 2008, 20th returner) Brodeur, Andy (33rd ACC 2008, 22nd returner) Clark, Stephen (28th ACC 2008, 18th returner) Kostelnik, James Lund, Josh (63rd ACC 2008, 43rd returner) McDermott, Ryan (68th ACC 2008, 46th returner) Nanni, Cory (25th ACC 2008, 16th returner) Osborne, James (42nd ACC 2008, 28th returner) Ross, Johns (46th ACC 2008, 31st returner) Sanchez, Jonathan (freshman - 4:10, 9:04) Ward, Tradelle (44th ACC 2008, 29th returner) Waggoner, Bo (10th ACC 2008, 6th returner, 135th NCAA 2008) Florida State (2008 - 4th) In 2009 - 6th Notre Dame, 8th Pre-Nationals White Andrews, Trey (52nd ACC 2008, 34th returner, 238th NCAA 2008) Bell, Jared (Yale transfer - 3:44 1,500, 8:15 3,000) Fout, Mike (27th ACC 2008, 17th returner) Harbor, Justin (252nd NCAA 2008) Lakritz, Jason (32nd ACC 2008, 21st returner, 206th NCAA 2008) Leeder, Matt (7th ACC 2008, 4th returner, 110th NCAA 2008) O'Lionard, Ciaran (Michigan transfer - 68th NCAA 2008) Rickman, Wes (freshman - 4:15, 8:57 2 mile) Roberts, Daniel (24th ACC 2008, 15th returner, 85th NCAA 2008) Georgia Tech (2008 - 10th) In 2009 - 31st Pre-Nationals Blue Hickey, Matt (51st ACC 2008, 33rd retuner) Mateker, Billy (50th ACC 2008, 32nd returner) McMillan, D.J. (58th ACC 2008, 39th returner) Roberts, Shawn (freshman - 1:53, 4:14) Maryland (2008 - tie 6th) Cator, Mike (57th ACC 2008, 38th returner) Gahr, Kevin (45th ACC 2008, 30th returner) Kelsey, Greg (19th ACC 2008, 10th returner) Lundy, Alex (23rd ACC 2008, 14th returner, 125th NCAA 2008) Miami (2008 - 12th) Vicklund, Michael (96th ACC 2008, 65th retuner) North Carolina (2008 - 8th) In 2009 - 21st Pre-Nationals White Cunningham, Adam (34th ACC 2008, 23rd returner) Curtiss, John (61st ACC 2008, 41st returner) Dawson, Zach (70th ACC 2008, 47th returner) Kiplagat, Matthew (82nd ACC 2008, 56th returner) Watchempino, Evan (35th ACC 2008, 24th returner) North Carolina State (2008 - 2nd) In 2009 - 2nd Paul Short, 9th Pre-Nationals Blue Andrews, Bobby (freshman - 4:12, 8:25 3,000) Bollinger, Steven (freshman - 9:21) Campbell, Patrick (RS freshman - 14:23, FL All-American) Colley, Andrew (freshman - 9:09) Dame, Greg (60th ACC 2008, 40th returner) Eyualem, Eyob Hill, Ryan (13th ACC 2008, 7th returner, 104th NCAA 2008) Himelright, Brian King, Geoff Martinez, John (5th ACC 2008, 2nd returner, 49th NCAA 2008) Moldovan, Bobby (22nd ACC 2008, 13th returner, 212th NCAA 2008) North, Andrew (56th ACC 2008, 37th returner, 207th NCAA 2008) Petersen, Thomas Roshdy, Zakariya (freshman - 4:16, 9:27) Virginia (2008 - 1st) In 2009 - 1st George Mason, 1st Panorama Farms Andrews, Robby (freshman - 1:48, 2:22 1,000 HSR, 4:03 mile, 9:27 2 mile) Collins, Ryan (6th ACC 2008, 3rd returner, 70th NCAA 2008) Gilland, Taylor (freshman - 4:10 mile, 9:01) Heineking, Emil (9th ACC 2008, 5th returner, 26th NCAA 2008 - All-American) Hobart, T.J. (freshman - 4:12) Johnson, Brett (freshman - 1:53, 4:08 mile, FL finalist) Tribble, Graham (16th ACC 2008, 9th returner, 190th NCAA 2008) Virginia Tech (2008 - 3rd) In 2009 - 4th Chile Pepper Cornwall, Devin (3rd ACC 2008, top returner) Hammond, Mike (15th ACC 2008, 8th returner) Kroetch, Matt (29th ACC 2008, 19th returner) Mulherin, Will (20th ACC 2008, 11th returner) Welch, Brian (41st ACC 2008, 27th returner) Wake Forest (2008 - 11th) Billington, Greg (38th ACC 2008, 25th returner) Drogosch, Garret (freshman - 9:23) Huizenga, Devin (freshman - 4:17, 9:25)