May 29, 2008 - by
FSU Track & Field To Impress Home Crowd At NCAA East Regional Championships

May 29, 2008

NCAA East Regional Website

Tallahassee, Fla.Florida State track and field will have its fourth and final chance to show off for the home crowd this weekend, May 30-31 at the 2008 NCAA East Regional Championships at Mike Long Track. The defending national champions plan to pull out all the stops in the last qualifying meet of the season before heading to Iowa on June 11 to defend their NCAA title.


Over a thousand athletes from more than one hundred schools scattered along the eastern seaboard will be represented in Tallahassee this weekend including members of the ACC, SEC and Big East conferences. The regional meet is the gateway to the national championships as only the top five finishers in each event will be invited to the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.


The Florida State men’s squad not only has a national title to defend, the regional crown is on the line as well. A top finish at this weekend’s meet would give the Seminoles their fourth-straight regional title and put them in excellent position to fight for their third consecutive national championship.


It’s a daunting task, but with a cast of 23 standout performers set to take the stage, the Seminoles are prepared to handle it. The squad will be lead by seven-time national champion and 15-time All-American, Walter Dix. The Coral Springs, Fla. senior will don his garnet and gold uniform for just the third time this season , with both of his previous efforts having yielded him the qualifying marks necessary to compete this weekend.


On the women’s side, Florida State looks to continue its gradual progression up the east regional ladder and perhaps best the team’s top place in the event at number five. Freshman Kim Williams and sophomore Hannah England hold two of the top women’s finishes this season. Williams just raked in the ACC Outdoor long and triple jump titles to earn a Freshman and Field Performer of the Year awards while England took the 800m crown and the second-fastest time in the country.


Events are scheduled to get under way Friday morning at noon with the women’s discus and will continue straight through the 4x100m relays Saturday night at 7:25 p.m.






­Head Coach Bob Braman


“We used to want to score a lot of points and beat Florida and we did that a couple years ago at the region meet and we got fourth at the Nationals and they got second and we kind of revisited that plan a little bit.”


“This is the first round of the NCAA’s, let’s get as many people qualified.  Let’s not get too jacked up, but you better get pretty pumped up because you have 110 schools who don’t care about your National Championship chance or where you’re going to finish.  They have three or four or 10 athletes that are trying to qualify.”


“We are way more balanced on the men’s side this year than we were last year.  Last year we had no field events qualify and it was all on those seven guys.  This year we have the number two national mark in the long jump, we have a defending National Champion in the triple jump and Gonzalo is number two in the country in the decathlon so we’ve got three potential winners in those events.”


“If Walt goes out and tries to break the collegiate record I’m going to grit my teeth and hold my breath.  The plan with Walt for this year from the beginning we knew that he had the Olympic Trials and had to be at his best.  It is two weeks after the NCAA meet and it is a two week process with the 100m on the first weekend and the 200m on the second weekend.  So what could we do best to serve both purposes.  The plan from the beginning was to run long stuff during indoors like the 4 X 400 and don’t even mess with the 60m and run the 200m to defend the title there.  That plan went really well until the National Indoor Championships when he got strep throat and couldn’t compete at all.”


Seven-Time NCAA Champion and 15-Time All-American Walter Dix


Are you happy to finally be healthy and ready to go?

“I’m very happy and I feel extremely blessed.  This is a great opportunity to come back and run at regionals at home in Tallahassee in front of my fans and my home crowd.  It’s almost like a dream come true to come back healthy and be ready for this meet at the right time.”


Do you feel like with all you’re going through (returning from injury), that you’re close to your top potential?

“I think I’m where I need to be right now.  I think I’m on track to be ready for the Olympic trials right now.  I’m in shape, I’m strong and I’m healthy.”


On whether he thinks he can beat his 100m time from last year’s regional meet.

“I’m not going to shoot for that because I didn’t know I was going to run that last year.  I’ve been doing well at practices and I’m stronger and lighter. The simple fact is I haven’t run a race since the first week in April, so I have to get out there and see how I feel before I say I can go out there and run the top time.”


On whether the weight loss has made a big difference.

“We’ll see if it makes me stronger or slows me down.  I’ll probably feel stronger throughout the rounds, but we’ll see if it has any effect on my quickness and my turns.”


On why he’s competing at the NCAA meets with the Olympics around the corner.

“I look at how many times I’ve ran outdoor track this year.  I ran a 4x400m and a 100m which I pulled up in.  So I need a meet to prepare for the Olympic trials.  I need to get a 100m and a 200m under my belt so the NCAA regional will be a perfect meet to get those events in.  Then the NCAA championships will be another good meet to get those events in so there are two good meets under my belt before I head in the Olympic trials.  I’ll be able to get good depth before the trials.”


On where he feels he stands against the overall field at the NCAA meet.

“Even though I’m not ready to peak, I have to go out there with the mindset that I’m running against the world’s best.  I can’t go out there with the mindset that I’m out there to win regionals against the best collegiate athletes; I have to think I’m racing against Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay.  In my mind, that’s why I try to drop fast times like a 19.60 or a 19.99; I’m competing against them at all times and not just against college-level athletes.” 


On whether he can drop a fast time on Mike Long Track.

“We don’t know.  I haven’t touched the track in a few months, so Friday will be the first time on the track and I have to get used to it.  I feel confidant and I feel very fit, but I won’t know until I touch the track and get that running under my belt. It’s the difference of feeling one way and then actually running.  My training has been going well for the last two weeks; I had two weeks to prepare basically.”


On whether he’s more excited about this weeks meet due to being out for the last few months with an injury.

“What’s funny is if you follow horse racing and the Triple Crown, my coaches are telling me about Big Brown trying to go for it.  I feel like we’re in the same boat.  People are watching him and they’re watching me; the difference is he’s a horse and I’m a human being.  We’ll see it will affect me or not, all I can go in there with is the mindset and the confident training I’ve had and try to drop something fast.”


On whether this is the longest layover he’s had in-between meets.

“It’s been about five weeks, so yes.  The difference between this time and last is last time I didn’t take it as seriously.  I didn’t eat right and I didn’t go to rehab as much and do as much work as I should have.  This time I turned it around and did the little things to help me stay fit.  I came back in workouts and did pretty good there, so I think I cleared up a lot of nonsense I did when I was younger.  I think it’s going to show this weekend.”


On where staying in school and graduating ranked in importance to him this year.

“I think that was the most important day of my college career, unfortunately it doesn’t get the media attention when student-athletes graduate.  A lot of people look at what I do on the track as the person I am, but I feel like in 50 or 60 years down the line I’ll be living my life without track and that’s what I have to prepare myself for.  I only have about eight or nine years of running left and that’s a short time in my whole lifespan.  I feel like Florida State University does set up a good balance for student-athletes, we’re called that term for a reason. There’s a balance for us to follow to prepare us for life after athletics.  That’s why I chose to stay in school and I chose to prepare to life after collegiate athletics.


“I graduated and got hurt around the same time and it put a lot of things into perspective.  It made me think that track is always going to be there and a degree is something I will have for life and I can use for a lifetime.”


On whether people thought he was crazy to pass up the money a pro contract would bring to stay in school.

“People thought it was dumb, but I never paid attention to it.  I understood why they thought it was crazy but that was never my main focus.  I had a goal in mind when I came to Florida State and that was to get my degree.  I didn’t come to school to just be a track and field athlete, I came to get my degree and be a better person after I graduate.  I knew even after my freshman year when all that money was being thrown at me that I would come back to finish school regardless.”


On what it’s going to take from here on out to make it to Beijing in a few months.

“My goal is not to go to Beijing and just qualify, my goal is to go and win the 100m and the 200m.  I know everything I do has to be Olympic prep.  Everything I eat, the way I train and the way I carry myself has to be in preparation for the Olympics from here on out.  When I got injured that’s when I realized I can’t continue to eat the way I used to and I can’t be up late all the time.  There are certain things you cannot do when training for the Olympics.  In order to be in that elite group you have to act like an elite person and carry yourself like an elite athlete; if you don’t you will end up with an injury.”


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