Jan. 23, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The No. 5 Florida State track and field teams will not have to go far to compete this weekend because the Seminoles will travel to Gainesville, Saturday, January 24th to participate in the Tom Jones Memorial Invitational, hosted by the University of Florida. The meet will take place at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
“For a lot of our athletes, this invitational just continues their training while for others, it’s just the next step to getting our season going,” Florida State head coach Bob Braman said. “There are a few people we think will make NCAA provisional marks.”
The second-annual Tom Jones Memorial Invitational will serve to honor longtime Gator women’s track and field coach Tom Jones, who died in 2007 after a courageous battle with cancer. Braman was coached by Jones in his senior year of high school.
“Tom Jones was my high school coach my senior year at Tampa Chamberlain, so my memories of him are many,” Braman said. “I was Tom’s PE assistant and helped run his class while he was trying to find ways to win those famous dual meets. What people don’t know about Tom is that he was a very good distance coach as well. He was just as passionate about cross country when it was in-season as he was about track.”
“Tom was a wonderful mentor for me throughout my career and I learned a lot from him,” Braman said. “I believe that Tom helped me learn to respect the sport, take it seriously and be as good as I was capable of being.”
On the women’s side, Florida State sophomore jumper Kim Williams (Kingston, Jamaica), who was named ACC Co-Performer of the Week, is coming off an outstanding performance at the VT Hokie Invitational. Williams not only broke her own school record, but also set a new ACC record in the triple jump with her outstanding leap of 14.03m. The jump, which ranks first in the nation this season, also gave Williams automatic qualification for the NCAA Championships.
Look for sophomore All-American and IAAF World Junior Champion Teona Rodgers (Tampa, Fla.) to leave her mark in her first stint at the invitational along with newcomer’s Liz Mabry (Gulf Breeze, Fla.) and Christal Washington (Hollywood, Fla.).
“Rodgers will try to step it up one more notch this weekend,” said Braman. “We also have all the freshmen getting out there and competing.”
Leading the fifth ranked men’s team will be veteran hurdler and NCAA participant Javier Garcia-Tunon (Miami, Fla.) along with 2008 Olympian and 2008 ACC Indoor Field Performer of the Year, Gonzalo Barroilhet (Santiago, Chile). This will be Barroilhet first meet in Gainesville, Fla. as well as Andrew LaHaye (Altamone Springs, Fla.) who will represent the freshmen class.
“On the men’s side, we will have field event athletes for the most part,” said Braman. “They will be taking the next step in getting ready for the ACC. We are going to compete as hard as we can.”
In last year’s Tom Jones Memorial Classic, the freshmen excelled for the Seminoles as Williams automatically qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships in the triple jump (1st place, 44’0.7″) while Ngonidzashe Makusha provisionally qualified in the long jump (1st, 25’8.7). Florida State’s 4x400m women’s relay team also picked up a provisional qualifying mark (3rd place, 4:40.10).
In addition to FSU (w-#5; m-#5) and Florida (w-#13; m-#5), the other schools competing at the meet include Auburn,Bethune-Cookman, UCF (women only), FAMU, Jacksonville, Miami (w-#20) and South Carolina (w-#16;m-#16).