Feb. 7, 2012
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State track & field program has fortified its distance and field event lineups with the addition of five new signees announced by head coach Bob Braman.
Highlighting the group is steeplechase specialist Zak Seddon, whose range on the track from 1500-3000 meters, as well as his cross country prowess, should provide the Seminoles with an early scoring threat on the track and a bonafide contender for a spot in the cross lineup as well. The Seminoles also added to their growing roster of prominent women when Indiana native and pole vault standout Hannah Acton signed her national letter of intent.
From England to the Midwest, FSU continues to demonstrate the broad reach of its program brand. Nonetheless, Braman and his staff also came through on the home front, mining the Florida high school ranks for two of the state’s top distance runners – Max del Monte and Chris Godwin, as well as its top-ranked high jumper, Brandon Stone.
Braman, a Florida native, is keenly aware of the benefits of bringing the best in-state kids into the program.
“We’ve got two of the top three seniors [distance runners] in the state,” Braman said. “Those kids, keeping them in state, you build up a base of good young guys. We’ve got a few the last couple years, but these two are the top.
“If you get those kids in the state, you’re building a cross country team. If they never score at nationals [in track], you’ve built a cross team.”
Both del Monte and Godwin have impressive resumes, especially on the cross country side. They were the Florida 3A and 4A state championship runner-ups, respectively, this past fall. While del Monte is more accomplished on the track – he was the state runner-up to current FSU freshman AJ del Valle in the 1600 meters (4:12) last spring – Godwin continued his meteoric ascent in just his third season of organized running. This past fall he qualified for the prestigious Foot Locker National Championship cross country meet in San Diego.
Make no mistake, Seddon is the star of the distance class and the most recent addition to the program from the UK.
“As a junior in high school, his performances in four events, would have been – in the U.S. [ranked] – first in the 2k steeple, first in the 3k steeple, top-three 1,500 meters and then top-five 3k,” Braman said. “Assuming he does the same or a little better this year, he would be No. 1 in the U.S. in four events coming in – at the appropriate age.”
The English lad from Reading, Berkshire has extensive international experience, despite his youth. He won the silver medal in the 2000-meter steeplechase at the inaugural 2010 Youth Olympic Game in Singapore and last summer, finished fifth at the IAAF World Youth Games in Lille, France with a personal-best time. He is the UK record-holder in the steeplechase for ages 16 and 17 and counts wins at the Commonwealth Youth Games and European Youth Olympics among his top feats.
Seddon has also shown tremendous range, posting a 3:46.61 PR at 1500 meters this past August, while also demonstrating great success in cross country – and everything in between. Even more encouraging, he won’t celebrate his 18th birthday until late June.
Acton’s arrival will provide assistant coach Dennis Nobles with one of the most promising young women’s pole vaulters in the nation. She has already cleared 12-7.50 and demonstrated additional athleticism with a high jump best of 5-5. She is the reigning USA Youth Champion, the USATF Junior Olympic Regional champion and finished fifth last summer at New Balance Nationals in the vault.
“If we get a 13-foot-plus pole vault, which is what Dennis thinks we’ve got, that’s a really good potential scoring toy for him to play with, a la Lacy Janson,” Braman said, drawing a comparison to FSU’s all-time top vaulter and multi-time national champion.
Stone, who hails from the small town of Trenton, Fla., has a promising upside in the high jump, which is an area of need for the Seminoles. He was the lone Floridian to clear the 7-foot standard last season.
“That’s a kid – he’s a lot like my distance guys – they’re sleepers,” Braman said of Stone. “They’re very, very good kids in the state of Florida that will undoubtedly help us. Seven-foot always gets you top 3-4-5 in the ACC. If he becomes a consistent seven-footer, that’s great. We haven’t had an impact high jumper since Shawn Brown. It’s nice to have a guy like that and we see that in Stone.”
The Seminoles are not yet done with adding to their already impressive signing class, with at least two new additions of significant impact anticipated any day.
Florida State 2012 Track & Field Signees
Hannah Acton, Bloomington, Ind. (Bloomington South) – Pole Vault
Captured the USA Youth Championship by clearing a new career-high of 12-7.50 on July 3, 2011, which ranked as the No. 2 vault in Indiana…matched that height on July 29 of last year for a runner-up finish at the USATF National Junior Olympics Championship, which ranked No. 19 in the US last year…qualified for nationals by winning the USATF Junior Olympic Regional (12-6)…posted a high school regular season-best vault of 12-3 in April 2011 as a junior at the Conference Indiana meet…finished third at the 2011 IHSAA State Championship meet as a junior by clearing a 12-0 feet in the pole vault…talented athlete who finished third at the IHSAA State meet in the high jump by clearing 5-5…posted a career-best high jump of 5-6 in April 2011, which ranked as the No. 7 jump in Indiana last year…posted a career-best high jump of 5-5 at last year’s state meet, finishing sixth…also captured the USA Youth Championship in the high jump (5-3) on the same day she set a new career-high mark in the pole vault…finished fifth in the pole vault at New Balance Nationals in June…has already established an indoor career-best pole vault of 11-3.75 at the 2012 Indiana Open on Jan. 9…committed to FSU in January.
Max del Monte, Tampa, Fla. (Chamberlain) – Distance
Enjoyed an outstanding prep cross country career at Chamberlain, the same high school that produced Florida State head coach Bob Braman…as a senior was Florida 3A state runner-up (15:28.38) after winning Hillsborough County and district titles…earned Footlocker All-South Region honors after placing 19th…boasts a 5k cross country personal-best of 15:03.71 at 2010 flrunners.com Invitational 11…four-time state qualifier in cross country who was fifth in 2010 4A state championship, 17th as a sophomore in 4A and 44th in 3A state meet as a freshman…turned in a personal-best of 4:18.52 in the mile at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals last summer, placing 12th to cap a solid junior season on the track…was 2011 4A state runner-up in 1600 (4:12.51) to current FSU freshman AJ del Valle and ninth in the 3200…established 3200 personal-best of 9:25.49 at FSU Relays last spring…finished fourth as sophomore in 2010 4A state 1600 (4:20.79).
Chris Godwin, Gainesville, Fla. (Buchholz) – Distance
A rapidly developing distance standout who is just completing his third full year of cross country and track & field competition, which made his appearance at 2011 Foot Locker Nationals all the more impressive…placed 39th after he was a late addition to the field following his 11th-place finish at Foot Locker South Regional (15:10.0)…between Foot Locker Regional and National meets, captured the FACA Senior All-Star title in 15:45.78 on Florida State’s Apalachee Regional Park home course…Florida Class 4A state cross country runner-up (15:37.40)…entering his third and final season on the track for Buchholz High where he has posted personal-bests of 9:34.00 (3200) and 4:27.62 (1600).
Brandon Stone, Trenton, Fla. (Trenton) – High Jump
Enters his third and final season of track & field competition in the Florida 1A classification as one of the most promising young high jumpers in the country…a two-time state qualifier in the high jump, he finished third at the 2011 championship…was the No. 1 high jumper in Florida in 2011…caught the attention of the FSU staff when he soared a personal-best 7-feet to win the 1A District 4 championship last spring, defeating his nearest competitor by a foot…was the lone 7-foot high jumper in Florida last year and four inches clear on the second-ranked athlete in the event…came into the district meet with a previous personal best of 6-6, set as a sophomore…has also competed in the long jump and 300 hurdles for Trenton, which is located just west of Gainesville.
Zak Seddon, Reading, Berkshire, England (The Piggott School) – Steeplechase
Promising steeplechase specialist who has excelled as a junior at the 2000-meter distance and put together a big-time debut effort at the 3000-meter distance…has gained international experience over the past two years…posted a fifth-place finish at the 2011 IAAF World Youth Games in Lille, France, where he covered the 2000-meter steeple in a personal-best 5:40.62…stepped up to make his 3000 steeple debut in late July at Birmingham, England where he checked in at 8:54.96…competed in the inaugural 2010 Youth Olympic Games, where he won the silver medal at 2000 meters (5:52.13) in Singapore…has demonstrated developing speed with a 1500-meter PR of 3:46.61 in late August, after posting a 3000-meter run personal-best of 8:15.37 in London earlier that month…holds UK records for ages 16 and 17 in 2000 steeplechase…counts victories at the Commonwealth Youth Games and European Youth Olympics among his greatest accomplishments…is also an accomplished cross country runner, winning the Berkshire Schools’ Championship earlier this month…has been coached by his father Jeff…will not celebrate his 18th birthday until June 28.