TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Saturday’s Orange & Purple Invitational marks the start of the indoor track & field season for the Florida State programs.
It will be the lone trip to Clemson for the Seminole men and women in advance of the ACC Indoor Championships, where both teams will be chasing titles.
Continuing our week-long preview, here is a look at the lineup of horizontal and vertical jumpers and multi-event athletes on the FSU rosters, under the direction of first-year coach Keith Herston:
There isn’t a deeper, more proven segment on the Seminoles’ roster than Herston’s jumps squad, which boasts both versatile veterans as well as a host of talented first-year athletes in the program.
Senior Montel Nevers (Nottingham, England) leads the group. The lone Seminole to earn first-team All-American honors indoors and outdoors last season, the triple jump standout owns a collegiate-best indoor mark of 15.90m (52-2). That came one his sixth and final attempt at the NCAA Indoor Championships and vaulted him into eighth place.
Nevers, who set the British University indoor triple jump record (16.15m/53-0) in 2016 before transferring to FSU, has a knack for producing on the big stage. His sixth attempt at the ACC Indoor Championships (15.88m/52-1.25) propelled him to bronze and secured his spot in the NCAA field.
Junior Armani Wallace (Orlando, Fla.), who pulled off the rare ACC Outdoor Championships triple jump/long jump gold double last year, owns an indoor triple jump personal-best of 15.58m (51-1.5). That mark pales in comparison to the 2016 IAAF World Junior finalists’ PB (16.32m/53-6.5) set at the ACC Outdoor Championships.
With an outdoor long jump best of 7.57m (24-10), Wallace is one of several dual-threats jumpers in the lineup.
Redshirt junior Ashton Butler (Nassau, Bahamas) is coming off his best season with the Noles, posting outdoor PBs of 15.71m (51-6.5) at the ACC Championships and 7.18m (23-6.5) in the long jump. He’s hoping to carry that momentum over to his strongest indoor campaign to date.
As if the well wasn’t already deep, the Noles added graduate transfer Kenneth Fisher (East Point, Ga.) from Bethune-Cookman, a three-time NCAA Championships qualifier in the long jump who has also excelled in the triple jump. Fisher owns indoor personal-bests of 7.80m (25-7.25) and 15.35m (50-4.5). He won the 2013 USATF Junior Olympic long jump title and represented Team USA at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships after placing second.
The January arrival of freshman Jakub Andrzejczak from Poland ranks as one of the top jumps signees since Stefan Brits. The 2017 European U20 Championships silver medalist in the long jump also holds his country’s junior national record in the triple jump. His lifetime bests of 8.02 meters (26-3.75) in the long jump and 15.95m (52-4) in the triple jump would rank among the best marks in FSU history.
Another freshman, Jacore Irving (Chattahoochee, Fla.) brings a handful of Florida state titles and a huge upside to the program from Sneads High, where he won a pair of 1A crowns in the long jump and capped his multi-sport prep career with a triple jump title in 2017. Irving owns wind-aided personal-bests of 7.21m (23-8) in the long jump and 13.97m (45-10) in the triple jump, while also excelling in football and basketball.
The Noles will also be strong in the vertical jumps, thanks to an influx of high jump talent, though the best of the bunch will be sitting out the indoor season.
Christoff Bryan (Kingston, Jamaica), a transfer from Kansas State, is the reigning NCAA Outdoor high jump champion. He owns an indoor personal-best of 2.28m (7-5.75), is a four-time, first-team All-American and has twice finished on the podium in IAAF World competition at the youth and junior levels. Bryan, however, will miss the indoor campaign as a redshirt while recovering from surgery.
Corion Knight (Crawfordville, Fla.) returns to the area as a senior transfer from Florida Memorial, where he was an eight-time All-American and won the 2017 NAIA national championship in the high jump and the 2016 national title in the long jump. He owns lifetime-bests of 2.19m (7-2) in the high jump and 7.66m (25-1.5) in the long jump. At Wakulla High, Knight won the 2014 2A state high jump title as a senior.
Freshman Qayyim Ali (Williamsport, Pa.) was the 2017 Penn Relays runner-up in the high jump. Ranked 10th nationally as a high school senior, he owns a pair of Pennsylvania state titles and boasts an outdoor personal-best of 2.15m (7-1).
Rounding out the group under Herston’s watch are multi-event specialists Dante Newberg (Tampa, Fla.) and Hunter Napier (Bradenton, Fla.). Newberg’s two-year ascent with the Noles paid off in 2017 when he registered a 5,186-point total – No. 3 all-time among Noles in the heptathlon – to finish sixth at the ACC Indoor Championships. He followed that up with a career-best 7,113-point decathlon total – No. 5 all-time – in a fourth-place ACC Outdoor finish. Napier, a redshirt sophomore, scored 4,045 points in his lone competition over the course of an injury-marred season.
All Eleonora Omoregie did after arriving at FSU in January of 2017 as a freshman from Udine, Italy was smash the school indoor high jump record – one of the longest standing marks on the books – and qualify for both the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor National Championships after claiming both ACC titles.
Omoregie won three of her first four meets with the Noles, capped by her dramatic ACC Indoor title with a record-setting leap of 1.88 meters (6-2), which she followed by earning second-team All-American honors.
She leads a potentially potent lineup of high jumpers, which includes redshirt sophomore Kayla Maczuga and Safia Morgan, and senior Hannah Welsh. Maczuga’s first season of competition included a personal-best of 1.70m (5-7) for fourth place at the ACC Outdoor Championships. Morgan also owns a 1.70 PB indoors, and placed in the top six at both the ACC Indoor and Outdoor Championships. Welsh, a fifth-year senior, has battled injuries but owns a 1.69m (5-6.5) personal-best and three times has finished one bar shy of scoring at the ACC Championships.
Senior long jumper Jogaile Petrokaite has advanced to the NCAA Championships four times in her career. The Lithuanian standout is the reigning ACC Indoor champion, recording her indoor personal-best of 6.38m (20-11.25) on her final attempt at last year’s conference meet. Petrokaite is currently on the mend from injury.
Herston’s charges include a handful of pole vaulters, led by sophomore Nicole Breske (Winter Park, Fla.), who moved into ninth place on FSU’s all-time indoor list as a freshman with a PB of 3.80m (12-5.5). Breske eclipsed that standard outdoors (4.02m/13-2.25), which earned her a trip to the NCAA East Preliminary meet and ranks No. 5 among all Noles.
Redshirt senior Elizabeth Eversole (Mishawaka, Ind.), redshirt sophomore Amanda Lewis (Tampa, Fla.) and sophomores Summer Schafer (Orlando, Fla.) and Oliva Ogles (Bradenton, Fla.) round out the group of vaulters. Eversole and Lewis own personal-bests of 3.77 meters (12-4.25) to lead the way.
Tuesday: Sprinters & Hurdlers