March 21, 2012
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The 33rd FSU Relays got underway Wednesday with a small group of athletes competing in the first day of multi-event competition; the appetizers, if you will, to a Friday and Saturday slate of action that will close out Florida State’s biggest meet of the outdoor track & field season.
More than 2,000 athletes, representing 19 universities, more than 100 high schools, as well as Olympic-caliber unattached competitors, will descend on Mike Long Track.
The four-day spectacle will also include the first TrackFest – an interactive area across Champions Way from the track – where fans can pick up food, browse for Nike merchandise, don some face paint or collect an autograph of photo of former Seminoles and World Class stars Kim Williams, Hannah England and Ciaran O’Lionaird. The TrackFest will be open throughout the competition Friday and Saturday.
It’s all a part of a meet that has seen tremendous growth since the FSU staff opted to add high school competition to the menu of their well-established meet.
“The big thing for us has been adding the high school meet,” said FSU coach Bob Braman. “While it was always a good meet … it has grown on the high school level and the post-collegiate level, where we’ve got some great national, international and world-wide stars who are here training and lots of times competing. It’s a great way to expose our kids to that level and it’s a great way to expose the high school kids to be exposed to both the collegiate and post-collegiate level.”
Makusha, winner of the 2011 Bowerman Award as the nation’s top collegiate track & field athlete, will compete in Friday’s long jump. It will be the former Seminoles’ first state-side competition since capturing the bronze medal at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea. Makusha is also expected to compete in the 4×100 relay – also on Friday – with some fellow Zimbabwe athletes, including former `Nole Brian Dzingai.
Williams, coming off a fifth-place finish in the triple jump at the 2012 Indoor World Championships, will compete Saturday. Lacy Janson, who was fifth in the pole vault at the Indoor World Championships, is schedule to vault Friday evening.
The current Seminole men’s and women’s teams also have big plans for the weekend. The men will field a 4×100 meter relay team that includes 2011 NCAA champions Maurice Mitchell and Kemar Hyman, along with newcomer Rachmil von Lamoen and senior transfer Horatio Williams on Friday. Mitchell and Williams will be joined by freshman ACC indoor 400-meter champion Stephen Newbold and Phillip Young in Saturday’s 4×400-meter relay.
“It’s exciting that we get all the events represented,” Braman said. “We’ve got people who are going to be on our conference team that you’re not going to see a lot of indoors. … A lot of our conference-level people, they may not be national-level people, but they are important to our ACC streak [of seven consecutive men’s titles]. You can’t win without them. You’re going to see a lot of those folks here.”
Beyond the collegiate and open athletes, the high school competition also figures to bring out some of the finest performances not only in the state, but regionally and nationally, as well. Nine state leaders in their respective events are entered in the meet, and Friday night’s Distance Showcase, brings together some the finest fields of the season in the girls and boys 3200-meter run.
“The high school meet is really good,” Braman added. “That might be the only chance we get to bring kids from all over the state – from way South Florida and up to the Orlando area – coming up here to get really good competition and set some PRs.
“They’re not opening their season. They’re in their third or fourth week, so it’s going to be really, really well-contested and that’s a credit to Chris Sumner and how he runs the high school meet and has developed it. I think they walk out of here feeling like they’ve had a great experience, ran in a really unique facility – like a little garden we have here at Mike Long Track – and they always run fast.”
While the decathletes and heptathletes wrap up their multi-event competition beginning Thursday at 1 p.m., the pace quickens Friday with field events set to begin at 9 a.m. and running events starting at 1 p.m. with the 4×100 relay. After a brief dinner break around 4:30 – at which point England and O’Lionaird will be signing autographs – the Distance Showcase kicks off with the steeplechase at 6 p.m.
Saturday’s action begins at 10 a.m. and wraps up with the 4×400 relay, which take the track at 4:25 p.m.
Admission to the FSU Relays and the TrackFest are free.
You can follow the action throughout the weekend via Twitter @FSU_Track or catch the recaps at Seminoles.com