TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – After a promising first season in garnet and gold, Armani Wallace is looking like right at home in red, white and blue.
A triple jumper who is entering his sophomore year at Florida State, Wallace is spending this week in Poland, where he’ll represent the United States at the IAAF World Junior Championships.
So, it was only natural that Wallace donned his new fire-engine red track suit, fresh with a blue, “USA” insignia across the chest, as he met with reporters last week.
“To be able to represent the United States is a real honor,” Wallace said. “It’s humbling knowing that I’m able to do this.”
Wallace put a bow on his freshman season by finishing second with a 16.12-meter jump at the ACC outdoor championships in May.
Although he fell short of qualifying for the NCAA championships a few weeks later, Wallace bounced back with an excellent outing at the US Junior Track and Field Championships last month, where he matched his 16.12-mark from ACCs to win a silver medal and clinch his spot on the US junior team.
“Any time you succeed to represent your country … that’s a big deal,” FSU jumps coach Dennis Nobles said. “You’re one of the best in your country. He was an accomplished high school athlete. But to watch him grow and develop as a young man and become better and better and better and really start to get the idea of what triple jumping is and mature as an athlete, that’s exciting to watch.”
Wallace’s triumph comes amidst a wave of Olympic fever at FSU. The Seminoles’ track and field program expects 16 current or former athletes to represent their countries at the Olympic games next month in Rio de Janeiro.
Wallace is not at that level – yet. But Nobles believes that the experience Wallace gains in Poland will only help him grow, both at the collegiate and international levels.
“He’s going to be competing against the best under-20 athletes in the world,” Nobles said. “Just the interaction of cultures and being on that kind of stage with the best ever – if he goes out and he does well, that’s just going to give him more and more confidence of ‘Hey, I belong here. I’m one of the elite. I’m one of the best.’”
For his part, Wallace is looking forward to simply boarding a plane and seeing a different area of the world.
A native of Orlando, Fla., Wallace said he’s never been out of the country, although his track career has taken him all across the United States.
Wallace is set to compete in the preliminary round of the triple jump on Wednesday, with the event finals scheduled for Thursday.
Although that leaves plenty of time for sightseeing before and after – the World Junior Championships run through Sunday – Wallace is also intent on competing at his highest possible level before his time in Poland is finished.
“I’m looking forward to getting my name out there,” he said, “and making people recognize who I am as a triple jumper.”