TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As hosts of the 38th FSU Relays, the Seminoles won’t have any trouble finding plenty of competition in the six-team collegiate field when action kicks off Friday morning at Mike Long Track. Florida State’s women, checking in at No. 10 in the USTFCCCA Preseason Rankings, are joined by No. 15 Alabama and No. 24 Auburn, as well as Georgia Tech, Liberty and Southern Miss.
The same six schools make up the men’s field, led by No. 8 Alabama and No. 24 Auburn. “FSU Relays is a great early-season meet for us – home facility, home crowd, great weather and no travel,” Florida State coach Bob Braman said. “And this year we have our best collegiate field. They’re all balanced programs with good athletes in every event, so it should be a great team battle.”
Competition begins with the hammer throw at 9 a.m., with the final collegiate event – the 4×400 relay – set for 7:30 p.m.
FSU’s lineup will include a trio of Seminoles who earned ACC Performer of the Week honors following last weekend’s Bulls Invitational at USF. Gleneve Grange won the discus – and Women’s Field Performer of the Week honors – with a personal-best to take the early national lead over her teammate and 2016 Olympian Kellion Knibb.
Knibb and hammer thrower Veronika Kanuchova enter the meet holding the facility records in their respective events.
Freshman Cortney Jones was honored as the Women’s Track Performer of the Week after opening her outdoor career with a victory in the 100-meter hurdles in 13.36; the ninth-best time in program history.
Senior Emmanuel Onyia led a 1-2-3 sweep by the Seminole men in the discus, also recording a personal-best for ACC Men’s Field Performer of the Week honors.
They will be joined by a strong cast. On the women’s side, ACC 100-meter champion Shauna Helps will tackle the 200-meter dash for the first time this outdoor season, and lend legs to both sprint relays. Bridget Blake and Carmela Cardama Baez will open their outdoor seasons in the 1500 and second-team All-American Jogaile Petrokaite will compete in the long jump and triple jump, while joining the 4×100 relay.
Sophomore Edward Clarke, a 2016 NCAA Outdoor qualifier in the 100-meter dash, will run his first race of the season at that distance. The Noles will also send NCAA Indoor All-American triple jumper Montel Nevers into action, where he will be joined in the event sophomore Armani Wallace. Austin Droogsma, an NCAA Indoor qualifier in the shot put, will also open his outdoor season.
A change in the meet format this year will have the college’s only competing on Friday, but as an added bonus, four high school events – 110/100 hurdles, 800, 200 and 3200 – featuring elite athletes will be included in the opening day of the meet.
Five Florida State signees will be among those competing, headlined by110-meter hurdler Trey Cunningham (Winfield City, Ala.), who set the IAAF World Junior record in the 60-meter hurdles two weeks ago at the New Balance Indoor Nationals.
Ka’Tia Seymour (Palatka) leads a deep field in the 100-meter dash. Elizabeth Jenkins (Winter Park) competes in Friday’s 800-meter, while distance signees Caleb Pottorff (Lincoln Park Academy) and Kayla Easterly (North Fort Myers) will compete in marquee 3200-meter night-cap.
Saturday will feature a full slate of high school competition, with 1,200 athletes representing 152 schools from nine states will compete. The quality of the competition could lead to a cascade of new meet records and entrants in 13 events have already eclipsed standing FSU Relays marks.
“I’m really pleased with the development of the high school portion of the meet,” Braman said. “It keeps growing every year, but more importantly, the quality of the meet is exploding. We have some of the top athletes in the country and definitely the top kids in the state. Having them here at Mike Long Track is invaluable to our program.”