2011 X-C Preview: The ACC Men

August 31st, 2011 in Articles by 4 Comments

It’s that time of year: Cross Country is upon us.

Nowhere is this competitive atmosphere more poignant than the Atlantic Coast Conference, one of the premier cross country conferences in the country. Last year, four men’s teams – Florida State, Virginia, NC State and Duke – qualified for the NCAA Cross Country Championships, with FSU finishing second.

Preseason brings returning scorers and fresh faces together as all 12 schools compete for the ACC, and ultimately the NCAA, title. Check out the ACC preview below, and get ready to watch as the teams race their way to the conference championships at Clemson in anticipation of that coveted invitation to Terre Haute.

Teams Poised To Take the Conference:

Florida State: “We made some changes to our training last year, and I believe it had a significant impact [so] we’re planning on repeating that training plan,” says FSU Coach Robert Braman, the 2010 ACC Cross Country Coach of the Year. The change obviously worked, as Florida State took the ACC title for the first time in school history and finished second at the NCAAs.

Though the ‘Noles graduated top scorer Ciaran O’Lionaird, their depth in 2011 is undisputed, and they’re ready to prove that last year’s wild ride wasn’t a fluke.

“We have a veteran team that only loses two guys from our top six off last year’s National Runner-Up team,” says Coach Braman. That includes 2010 All American Mike Fout, who finished 28th overall at Nationals, as well as veterans Dave Forrester, and Kuba Zivec.

“You could say we have a lot to prove as far as finishing well as a team at Nats again this year, but I’m confident we can do it. If we exhibit half as much team unity as we did last season, we should have no problem reaching our goals,” says team captain Wes Rickman (pictured).

NC State: The 2011 team will be experienced, as the Wolfpack returns all five of their scorers from the NCAAs, where they placed 20th, and six of the seven athletes that competed at the conference meet, where they placed second. Andrew Colley and Ryan Hill finished ninth and tenth, respectively, at conference last year, and they should exhibit the same dominant teamwork during this year’s season in a bid to finish as ACC Champions, both individually and as a team.

From the mouth of rival FSU Coach Robert Braman, “NC State is loaded this year.”

North Carolina: Carolina missed out on Nationals last year, and the Tar Heels have very realistic hopes set on a conference title and on that trip to Terre Haute They finished third at the conference championships, and they return their top scorer from ACCs, Adam Cunningham, as well as a legion of talented underclassmen.

“(The team is) looking good right now,” says Coach Pete Watson.

Last year’s rookie class was ranked No. 1 overall by FloTrack.com, and they look to be even stronger with a year of collegiate running under their belt.

“Jake Hurysz enters his sophomore year after a great freshmen year in XC and on the track. [Last] fall he was second team all ACC and then on the track ran 8:01 for 3000m and won the Pan Am junior championships at 5,000 meters,” says Coach Watson.

Virginia: Virginia returns six of the seven runners who competed at Nationals, including All American Ryan Collins. They placed 17th at the NCAAs, and fourth at ACCs. Although they will miss Emil Heineking, an All American and two-time ACC Champion, the Cavs have the depth to be competitive in the conference, and ultimately earn their sixth appearance at NCAAs in the past seven years.

Wild Card:

Duke: Duke missed taking fourth place by one small point last year, pushed out by the Cavaliers. The Blue Devils know they’re a stronger team than last year indicated, and they’re ready to prove that they can be consistent contenders. (After the ACC meet, Duke went on to finish second in the regional meet, best in the conference, but stuttered again at Nationals, finishing 21st.)

”We have reasons to be hungry this season and I am real excited about it,” says Andrew Brodeur, who earned All-Southeast Region Cross Country honors last year.

Duke Cross Country 2010“Our depth is to the point that I think it’s almost pointless to make an conjectures as to who will run at the NCAA championships since we have so many guys who have legitimate chances at making our top 7 in November,” added James Kostelnik, also a 2010 All-Southeast Region Cross Country runner.

Men to Watch:

Ryan Hill (NC State): Senior Ryan Hill took 10th at conference last year, edged out by teammate Andrew Colley, who came in 9th. However, Hill finished 22ndoverall at NCAAs, leading the Wolfpack and garnering All American honors. That most recent cross country accolade joined an already impressive resume – 2009 All American, All-ACC in 2008, 2009 and 2010, All-NCAA Southeast Regional in 2009 and 2010 and ACC Rookie of the Year in 2008. No doubt that Hill will show up to ACCs this year ready to take an individual ACC Championship title.

Adam Cunningham (North Carolina): “Adam Cunningham is back for his senior year and looking to improve on his 6th place finish at the ACC’s,” says Coach Watson. “Adam has run 3:42 for 1500 and 13:59 for 5000 and after red shirting last track season he is healthy and ready to lead the team.”

Take the graduating seniors out of the mix, and Cunningham’s finish would have earned him second place – an expectation that he looks to exceed.

Wild Card:

Mike Fout (Florida State): Mike Fout made All-American last cross country season, an honor usually not bestowed upon a ‘Wild Card’ athlete. Despite finishing second on the team at NCAAs, Fout didn’t score for FSU at ACCs. Though that speaks volumes as to the depth of the ‘Noles, who came away with the ACC title, guaranteed Fout will be with the lead pack this time around.

Andrew Colley (NC State): Andrew Colley finished first for his team at the conference meet last year, and ninth overall, earning All-ACC and All-NCAA Southeast Regional Honors. Already accustomed to staying with the front pack, Colley could lead it at ACCs this year.

Our prediction:

… And the 2011 ACC men’s team champion will be:

NC State!

[Editor’s note: The original version of this story cited Ryan Collins as an individual performer to watch — but he has since transferred to University of Wisconsin. More on him in our Big 10 preview.]


Kelly Laffey ran cross country and track at Wake Forest University. A 2010 graduate, she is pursuing a career in journalism. She loves the freedom associated with running and hopes to compete in her first marathon later this year. Contact her here.

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Author: FasterThanForty


Ryan Collins transferred to Wisconsin

Mark Amirault (Princeton) transferred to UVA

John Hop


Indeed it appears he did. Kelly, we’ll have to do a follow-up… Nice add for the Badgers too…



Thanks, for the notice, John. I’ve added NC State’s Ryan Hill as an athlete to watch as the Wolfpack compete for the ACC title.

Kelly Laffey


[…] in 23:59 – a remarkable time for a muddy trip. He outran Donn Cabral of Princeton (24:00) and Mike Fout of Florida State (24:01) in a dash down the stretch, and the first five finishers (including BYU’s Jared Ward and […]

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