The men’s team, which won a title in Troy during their season opener, continued their strong performance with another first-place finish in the Auburn Invitational held Sept. 9.
The team got a boost from two newcomers as redshirt freshman Niklas Buhner took the top individual spot in the 6K race.
“Buhner just got back from Europe from being at home, and we also held out Kane Grimster last week,” said coach Mark Carroll. “The idea was to just give them an extra week of training and bring everyone over with a full team today.”
Carroll wants the momentum from the victory to carry over to the rest of the season.
“We’ve trained very hard over the last few weeks and to get a win at home is great,” Carroll said. “It will be a big confidence booster and a big morale booster moving forward from here.”
Grimster, a freshman from Australia, finished fifth behind Buhner, followed by senior Jeff Sanders, sophomore Samuel Mueller and senior Joby Peake.
Those times were enough for the Tigers to top Kennesaw State 30–59 and take first place.
The women’s race looked promising at the beginning, but the Tigers couldn’t hold their lead through the last leg.
Sophomore Elizabeth Briasco and junior Alissa Fisher came close to placing first, but were overtaken during the final stretch.
“Briasco and Fisher just got after it from the start,” Carroll said. “Sometimes, when you have a home meet, you get a little excited. They both were able to really get after it today, The young lady from Samford caught Briasco late in the race, but she gave it her all. I couldn’t be happier for the girls.”
The second and fourth overall finishes gave the Lady Tigers a shot at another team title, but they fell three points shy of Georgia State and Samford, taking third place.
Coming within three points of winning both men’s and women’s titles, Carroll said he was pleased with the performance.
“It was great today,” Carroll said. “The ladies were third overall, which is a very good run on the home course, and the men were first. It’s always good to get a win at home. Then you also have the individual winner in Buhner, which is awesome.”
After a positive showing at the Auburn Invitational, the Tigers now turn their focus to the Florida State Invitational.
“From this week on, the training changes and becomes slightly more intense,” Carroll said. “Now we switch more toward interval work. Racing is obviously very, very good for us, and the race this week will be another big step up for us at Florida State.
“The level of competition is going up the whole time with each meet, and we are getting a little closer to the SEC each time with the thought that we peak at the right time.”
According to Carroll, the Tigers have been improving with each week of training.
“This week was great,” he said. “Across the board, everyone had great workouts this week. Racing at home was big, and like I said, racing period is worth two to three weeks of training. It just seems like everyone came off the home meet just a little bit further, and the workouts this week showed that.”
Carroll said he thinks the FSU Invitational will be a good measuring stick of how far the Tigers have progressed.
“Florida State is very good on both the men’s and women’s sides,” Carroll said. “You have North Florida coming in, too. It’s 16 teams, so it’s a pretty big meet. It will be strong competition for us and another step in the right direction toward SEC.”
Carroll is keeping the team focused and hopes they will hit their stride before SEC play begins.
“We’re trying to keep getting better and better each week and taking each challenge as they come,” Carroll said. “We’re excited. The team is ready to get on the road again this week and then the week after at Notre Dame. I think after that everyone will be in full race mode.”