Feb. 27, 2008
Tallahassee, Fla. – The Florida State track and field team will begin its quest for the No. 2-ranked men’s sixth-straight ACC Indoor Championship a program-first conference title for the No. 14 women this Thursday, Feb. 28 in Chapel Hill, N.C.
The Seminole men rank at the top of the ACC chain this season while the women trail Virginia Tech by three spots in the latest USTFCCCA polls.
In program history, the men have captured six championships overall and finished outside the top five just twice since FSU joined the ACC in 1992. The Florida State women’s squad, who finished fourth in last year’s competition, has reached second place twice in 26 years, and own just three finishes outside the top five.
Both teams will pose a major threat at the conference games, which will run through Saturday night, March 1 at the University of North Carolina.
Men Seek Sixth-Straight Conference Title
“The men obviously are going to have to step up,” said head coach Bob Braman. “They’ve got a five-year winning streak going and we’ve got to have a good meet to hang on to it. At the same time of course we’re trying to come out of this meet healthy and get ready for the next two weeks, which are absolutely huge as we try to qualify for the national championships. It’s a tough balance. We want to win and keep the streak going, but we also want to be in good shape to try and win a national title.”
In trying to keep its athletes healthy for the national meet, Florida State will rest some of its top performers, but fortunately the back-to-back national champions have enough star talent to go around.
Junior All-American Michael Ray Garvin, who gave his career-best 60m performance at the Tyson Invitational earlier this month, will be on hand for the sprinters, as well as fellow All-American Charles Clark and freshman Brandon Byram. All three have posted provisional marks for the NCAA championships this season.
In the distance events, senior All-American Luke Gunn will compete for the first time since breaking the school 3000m record with his 7:53.97, automatic qualifying performance at the Husky Classic in Seattle, Wash. Fellow senior Mark Buckingham, a member of last year’s ACC champion distance medley team, will join Gunn in leading freshman Matt Leeder and sophomore transfer Daniel Roberts through their first conference championship. Senior Andrew Krummins will jump in the mix as well, fresh off his provisional-qualifying performance in the 800m at the Husky Classic.
The Seminoles will also get some help in the field from freshman long-jumper Ngoni Makusha and senior All-American triple jumper Ray Taylor. Makusha shattered the Florida State indoor long jump record at the Tyson Invite with a 26’00.25″ mark, making him the first Seminole to leap past 26 feet indoors. Cornell-transfer Taylor, a two-time All-American in the indoor and outdoor triple jump, exceeded his career-best indoor leap with a 53’2.75″ mark at the New Balance Invitational, giving him one of the Seminoles’ six automatic qualifying marks this season.
Women Seek Program-First Conference Title
“On the ladies’ side we have an actual chance to win the championship this year,” said Braman. “But it would take a huge performance to knock off Virginia Tech. It would be exciting if we could pull it together for that, but we’re a little bit dinged up. We’ve got a couple of injuries that could affect our chances at getting that title.”
Batchelor and Smith will join forces with NCAA senior Hshkeni Richemond and newcomer Teona Rodgers in the sprint and hurdles events to post a few points for Florida State. In addition to a provisional qualifying time in the 4x400m relay at the Tyson Invite in Fayetteville, Ark., the Seminoles also boast a provisional mark from Rodgers in the 60m hurdles.
Florida State has one of the strongest distance programs in the nation with Netherlands-native Kuijken and sophomore Hannah England. Kuijken picked up an automatic qualifying mark at the Husky Classic en route to crushing the Florida State 3000m record with a 9:08.75. England finished just behind her with a provisional time of 9:19.25.
In the field, Florida State will look to a pair of all-star freshmen to score a few points for the team. Jamaican-native Kim Williams will represent the Seminoles in the triple jump, an event in which she picked up an automatic qualifying mark in at her first collegiate competition in Gainesville, Fla., at the Tom Jones Memorial Classic. The freshman’s longest jump of the season, a 45’00.25″ mark at the New Balance Invite broke the school triple jump record and remains the best leap in the ACC this season.
Fellow newcomer Kamorean Hayes has also put herself in the Seminole record books with a 53’05.50″ toss at the Tyson Invite that gave the North Carolina-native the longest throw in school history and the second-best mark in the conference.