April 22, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – After an exciting weekend in South Florida in which both the Florida State men’s and women’s track & field teams took home ACC titles, the Seminoles, with the men now ranked No. 5 and the women No. 17 nationally, will head north to compete at the 115th Penn Relays in Philadelphia, Pa., April 23-25, at Franklin Field. The Penn Relays annually features many of the country’s top collegiate track and field programs and this year will be no different as the Seminoles will compete against athletes from in-state rival Florida, Texas A&M, Texas, Arkansas, LSU, Tennessee and many others.
“Penn Relays is the oldest, largest and best relay meet in the world,” FSU head coach Bob Braman said. “That is their motto – oldest, largest and best. It is 115 years old. It is a really special deal when you consider all of that. Not only are all the best college teams competing, but they also have the Championships of America which is very prestigious. Many Olympians go to compete there. It will be really important for us to have a presence there and perform well.
“We have a pretty good group going up to compete,” Braman continued. “It is about 12 men and eight women. It certainly is center stage for the regular season.”
Leading the Seminole women this weekend will be co-captain and NCAA All-American Keyla Smith (sprints: Daytona Beach, Fla.), sophomore Teona Rodgers (hurdles: Tampa, Fla.) and two-time All-American and NCAA Champion Kimberly Williams. Williams, a Kingston, Jamaica native, is coming off an excellent performance with her first-place marks in the long and triple jump at the ACC Championships.
Also keep your eye out for junior thrower Allyn Laughlin (Ambridge, Pa.), who earned a bronze medal at the ACC Championships in the shot put and sprinter Britany St. Louis (Arima, Trinidad & Tobago), who crushed the 400m dash competition with her time of 52.97, earning her first-place.
“On the women’s side, we will only run in the 4×400 relay,” Braman added. “Coming out of the conference meet was a big battle for the women. We have a couple of our sprinters banged up a little. Kim Williams will be in the triple jump and Allyn Laughlin in the shot put.”
Guiding the men’s squad will be a dominant Seminole thrower in Michael Putnam (Miami, Fla.), NCAA Champion and seven-time All-American Charles Clark (sprints: Virginia Beach, Va.) as well as senior Michael Ray Garvin (Upper Saddle River, N.J.). Clark is coming off an outstanding performance at the conference meet with his 200m dash of 20.57 that earned him first place. Putnam and Clark have already earned their tickets to regionals as the two men have combined for a total of seven regional qualifying marks/times.
Set to compete this weekend will be a dynamic duo in Jonathan and Kevin Borlee (Brussels, Belgium) along with distance runners Matt Leeder (Brockville, Ontario), ACC Champion Steeve Gabart (Miami, Fla.) and All-ACC Daniel Roberts (Vicksburg, Mich.). Gabart is coming off one of his best performances with his 10,000m run of 30:38.40 that notched him the title of ACC Champion at the ACC Championships and another provisional mark. The other four athletes will be vying for their first regional qualification in their respected events.
“On the men’s side, we are going to run the 4x100m and 4x400m relays,” Braman said. “We are number one in the country in the 4×100 and second or third in the 4×400. This is a really good top level meet to run against. Most of the best teams in the country perform here before nationals.”
Competition gets underway for Florida State Thursday night with preliminaries in the 4x400m women’s relay, men’s steeplechase and 5,000m run. Keep up with the Seminoles as live stats can be found at www.thepennrelays.com.