TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The FSU Relays have always held an important place on the Seminoles track & field calendar, but the 39th edition of the meet – which begins Friday at 9 a.m. and includes a Saturday full of high school action – has a little added luster.
Florida, whose men have won four of the last six NCAA Outdoor Championships and are coming off their fourth NCAA Indoor title since 2010, are bringing full men’s and women’s teams to Mike Long Track for the seven-team meet.
“It’s fantastic,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “I really tip my hat to Coach Mike Holloway. It’s an early-season meet and you’re not going to double and triple your stars who are just coming out of the indoor season. There will be a score kept, but it won’t be your old backyard, dual-meet brawl that we had the 70s and 80s.”
By all accounts it will mark the first time both teams will send fairly complete rosters into action in Tallahassee since dual meet series between the schools was discontinued in the early 1980s.
“To get any national championship team to come to our campus is fantastic, but it’s even more special when everybody puts their bragging rights, and their political weapons and spin machine down,” Braman said. “Coach Holloway called and said, ‘Hey, would we be welcome at your meet?’ I’m like, ‘Absolutely. Let’s come and knock some early season marks out.’”
The early outdoor season nature of the event won’t lend itself to a measuring stick of any significance, but the caliber of athletes competing, many in their one-off events, is sure to bring out the best.
“They’re coming here with their best kids who are healthy, trying to get some marks and compete,” Braman added.
The rest of the field will also contribute to the quality of competition as well..
“And, oh, by the way, Auburn’s here, Georgia Tech’s here; Southern Miss has some pretty elite folks,” Braman added. “Dartmouth and Liberty have well-rounded teams.”
Some of the marquee events figure to be the men’s and women’s 4×100 relay, women’s discus and men’s long jump, though there will be no shortage of standouts between the seven schools across all event areas.
Among the Seminoles making their outdoor debuts are freshmen Ka’Tia Seymour (200), Jayla Kirkland (100) and Trey Cunningham (110 hurdles), all of whom competed at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
FSU’s deep and talented long jump pool, including All-American Kenneth Fisher and NCAA Indoor qualifier Corion Knight – both of whom are competing at home for the first time – will be challenged plenty by Florida’s star tandem of Grant Holloway and KeAndre Bates.
“We hope, regardless of what the score is, having a meet of this caliber on our campus will not only help our student-athletes reach a high level, but also give a little bit of a show for the town and the crowd,” Braman said. “And we have a monstrous high school meet and they’re going to sit in front of us competing head-to-head with Florida, Auburn, Georgia Tech and those kind of folks.”
Three high school events – 800, 200 and Invitational 3200 – are the lone diversions from the collegiate schedule on the opening day. The youngsters will have center stage to themselves on Saturday.
In addition to the competition on the track and in the field, the meet will also include the first jersey retirements in Florida State track & field history. Eight-time NCAA champion Walter Dix and former World record-holder and Olympic 400 hurdles silver medalist Kim Batten, will be honored in ceremony set for 6:55 p.m.
Admission is free.
You can follow the action throughout the two-day FSU Relays via Twitter @FSU_Track, and through the live results link https://results.flotrack.org/?mid=1375.
Saturday’s action will also be streamed live on the subscription-based MileSplit Network, beginning at 7:30 a.m. http://bit.ly/2CU9rZ6