Nov. 29, 2004
2004 WOMEN’S TRACK AND FIELD PREVIEW
What do you expect from the squad stepping onto the track this season?
This year’s team can be as good as any team since I first arrived at Florida State. The rising junior class will be the key to the squad’s success as a whole because of how talented the group was entering FSU two seasons ago. With such a small senior class, the focus will be on the juniors this year and next year to help continue the national success of the Seminoles program. This year we do not have the cushion of having depth. We do have potential and strong areas that will make the difference between a middle of the pack conference team or top three squad.
With the newly aligned Atlantic Coast Conference, how do you anticipate the women’s team reacting to Miami and Virginia Tech and contending with perennial champions UNC and rising star Georgia Tech?
The women’s team has to compete with a number of ACC programs that are going to be good for the next few seasons, at the least. Again, the group has to take it to the next level – getting from top in the conference and regions to nationals will be the focus. We need to stay healthy and have career years in order to meet those goals.
In the sprints group, you have Olympian Kimberly Walker for one more season and a strong class of rising juniors – All-American Cynthia Niako, and All-ACC LaKendra McColumn, Kimberly Adams and Marla Jackson. What do you see from this group once they step onto the track?
Our numbers and power lie in this group. They are a strong junior class and can take this team to the top if they step up and make the other schools fight for a championship. We’re going to have Kim Walker returning from the Olympics with a spark to her senior season. If the rest of the group follows suit, it will be an outstanding season for the Seminoles. I have no reason to expect we will not get a great return from them because they are excited and ready to embrace their responsibilities to the Garnet and Gold. Sophomore Dana Massiah also had a good year in 2003, coming in at the beginning of spring and almost scoring at the ACCs in the sprint and relay events. If she continues to get better, Massiah can be a leader for us as well. Niako was a superstar as a freshman but was slowed by injuries in 2004. Her healthy return will be huge for us.
In the mid-distance area, you return a strong leader in five-time All-American Natalie Hughes, who trains hard during the cross country season – a time when most student-athletes are working less than ten hours per week. You have senior Sydney Mondragon and sophomore India Pettus to the group, both of which saw considerable running time during the spring semester, and you have depth in an area that can put points on the board for FSU. With the addition of freshmen Laura Bowerman and Kirsten Hagen, who proved they can run with the best at FSU during the cross country season, how will the newcomers and other returnees factor in to the conference title chase?
This area is especially tough in conference, because you can fail to score at the conference meet and still qualify regionally and nationally. We’re expecting a lot from sophomore India Pettus and of course Natalie Hughes. Hughes is a proven staple in the program and coming off an incredible 2003-04 season where she won three All-American honors. Pettus, a highly-touted recruit, should knock seconds off her collegiate best marks in the mid-distance events. She trained with the cross country team during the offseason to continue to build strength and bring down her time. Laura Bowerman and Kirsten Hagen ran at the national level in high school and should help us right away. Both had great cross country seasons finishing most of the races in the Seminoles top three on varsity.
The jumps area is strong returning 2003 NCAA Indoor Pole Vault Champion Lacy Janson, along side talented triple and long jumpers LaToya Legree and Marla Jackson. The group did not lose anyone and look to experience at the conference, regional and national level to expand on their talents and step up as one of the better groups on the team. Including rising sophomore Charlene Walker, who had an outstanding freshman season, how do you see the group shaping up for the season as well as contributing towards the ultimate goal of an Atlantic Coast Conference Championship in track and field?
With Lacy returning for her final season, she has already etched her name in the record books and as a leader on the team. Her three consecutive outdoor pole vault wins are a first for any women in the history of the conference. Her performance on the national level is a key for us in placing high at the NCAA National Championships Meet. Senior Sharneka Brown learned to compete in the big meets helping us through the season while freshman walk-on Charlene Walker was our team leader in the long jump. Rising juniors LaToya Legree and Deanna Lane competed at the conference and regional meets but will be called upon to get more competitors at nationals this season. We are going to look for points from the group this year as they have enough student-athletes to give the squad depth and leadership.
The throws group has always been a small but impressive group for the Tribe. Lindsey Nelson had an outstanding rookie season and Kate Purcell was a few feet short of a national championship berth. With both returning to the Tribe, how do they help FSU achieve national prominence FSU wants? How will the newcomers to the throws area be expected to contribute?
Nelson did a great job for us last season, regionally qualifying in two events and scoring points at the conference meet. Purcell has grown tremendously since transferring into the program, narrowly missing nationals at the regional meet. Newcomer Sarah Reed will help balance the throws area for the Seminoles adding a second point scorer in the events.
The Seminoles open the season on Friday, December 3, 2004 at the Clemson Opener in Clemson, S.C.