Jan. 17, 2008
Tallahassee, Fla. – The quest for a third consecutive national championship begins Friday in Clemson, S.C. for the Florida State men’s track and field team. Along with the women’s squad, who are also looking to build on their growing success in the last few seasons, the men’s team will travel to visit the ACC-rival Tigers for the Clemson Invite Jan. 18-19.
“They’ve been chomping at the bit to get a competition in, so they’re excited about it,” said head coach Bob Braman. “We’ve been plowing through the fall and winter with practice and now we’re just trying to get out on the indoor track and get our feet wet. We just want to get the spikes back on.”
As the 2008 season gets under way, the Seminoles find themselves in prime position to improve their growing reputation as one of the nation’s track and field powerhouses. Between both squads, this year’s Florida State squad will feature a talented cast of veterans including returning All-Americans Walter Dix, Kandia Batchelor, Charles Clark, Michael Ray Garvin, Luke Gunn, Susan Kuijken, Keyla Smith and Cornell University transfer Ray Taylor.
Dix, the 2007 USTFCCCA Division I Track Athlete of the Year, will lead the men’s sprinters with his seven national championships and 15 All-American awards, backed by fellow All-Americans Clark and Garvin. Gunn will take over for decorated distance runners Andrew Lemoncello and Tom Lancashire, looking to build on his eighth-place performance in the steeplechase at last year’s NCAA Championships. Taylor will bring a new dimension to the men’s squad as the reigning NCAA Outdoor triple jump champion.
On the women’s team, Batchelor and Smith will bring the power of a seventh-place NCAA 4x400m Relay finish to the squad, as well as some standout performances in the 100m and 200m events. Kuijken, a three-time All-American in track and cross country, will lead the Seminole distance runners in the 1500m, where she finished second last season at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Adding to this powerful veteran ensemble is an incoming class of recruits ranked third in the nation by Track and Field News. Among the men’s top recruits are Michael Putnam, a two-time high school All-American and US Junior National champion in the shot put; Brandon Byram, a two-time Tennessee high school champion in the 200m; and Gonzalo Barriolhet, the Chilean Senior National Champion in the heptathlon with a record score of 7,504.
The women’s newest additions include Kamorean Hayes, a four-time outdoor shot put national champion; Ashley Cruder, a four-time high school All-American in sprints; Teona Rodgers, the high school state record holder for Florida in the 100m hurdles; and Hannah England, a three-time AAA Nationals gold medalist in the 1500m.
Florida State’s combined power of decorated veterans and talented newcomers guarantee that the 2008 track and field season will be another one for the history books. Following the Clemson Invite this weekend, the Seminoles will compete closer to home on Jan. 26 in Gainesville, Fla. at the University of Florida’s Tom Jones Memorial Classic.