TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Frigid temperatures, while rare in North Florida, serve as a reminder that the indoor track & field season has arrived.
With the Florida State men’s and women’s teams preparing to open the season Saturday at Clemson’s Orange & Purple Invitational, it’s an ideal time to take an in-depth look at the Seminoles’ roster entering the 2018 campaign.
Over the next few days we will examine the team by event groups, beginning with the sprints and hurdles:
Men’s Sprints & Hurdles
Junior Darryl Haraway, who was co-MVP of the 2017 ACC Indoor Championships after sweeping the 60- and 200-meter titles, returns to lead a deep group. The Upper Marlboro, Md. native qualified for the 2017 NCAA Indoor Championships in the 60-meter dash on the strength of his Tyson Invitational-winning personal-best time of 6.59, which is tied for the sixth-fastest in program history. Haraway ranks No. 8 nationally in Flotrack’s preseason 60-meter dash collegiate rankings.
He also owns a 200-meter best of 21.07, which checks in at No. 10 on FSU’s all-time list.
Fellow junior Edward Clarke is a two-time ACC 60-meter dash finalist with a personal-best of 6.69 and has also run 21.77 in the 200. Raheem Robinson, the third member of FSU’s junior class of short sprinters, ran 6.85 in the 60 as a freshman.
Among the Seminole long sprinters, sophomore Kyle Fearrington closed his breakout freshman campaign by running 46.58 for fourth at the ACC Outdoor Championships; a significant improvement from his 17th-place finish indoors. Fearrington is one of three Noles returning from the 4×400 relay which narrowly missed qualifying for the NCAA Outdoor Championships and could well contend for medal honors at the ACC Indoor Championships.
Senior Kenny Lane and sophomore Steven Simpkins also return from that 4×400 relay unit, after posting 400-meter personal-bests of 47.23 and 47.60, respectively, during the ’17 outdoor season. Fearrington, Lane and Simpkins handled three legs on FSU’s fourth-place ACC Indoor Championships finish (3:11.31). Junior D’Mitry Charlton, a 400-meter hurdler, adds depth to the 4×400 pool.
The Noles bolstered their lineup with a talented group of signees headlined by freshman hurdler Trey Cunningham (Winfield, Ala.), junior college sprint champion Andre Ewers (Lauderhill, Fla.) and two-time Texas state champion Shamon Ehiemua (Missouri City, Texas).
Cunningham set the World U20 60-meter hurdles record (7.40) on the way to his New Balance Nationals title last March. He also ran the No. 5 time nationally in the 60-meter dash (6.78) last season.
Ewers, the 2017 NJCAA Outdoor 100-meter dash champion for Butler (Kan.) Community College, owns indoor personal-bests of 6.65 (60) and 20.93 (200) on the way to silver and bronze medals at the 2017 NJCAA Indoor Nationals for the former Piper High star.
Ehiemua, whose senior outdoor season for powerhouse Fort Bend Marshall was derailed by injury, won UIL 200-meter titles as a sophomore and junior and ranked No. 4 nationally indoors among high schoolers in the 200 (21.29) following his Texas A&M High School Classic performance last year.
Rounding out the newcomers are a quartet of freshmen. Darryl Gay (Orlando, Fla.) has limited indoor experience, but owns a 60-meter personal-best of 6.95. Elijah Knight (Cary, N.C.) and Calvin Golson (Miramar, Fla.) will contend for spots on FSU’s 4×400 relay. A hurdler by trade, Knight was the North Carolina 4A runner-up in the 300 hurdles (38.09), while Golson ran a personal-best 48.23 as a senior at Hallandale High.
Hurdler Tyricke Dickens (Tallahassee, Fla.) will be competing indoors for the first time, and while he has never run the 60-meter hurdles, he is the reigning Florida 2A state champion over 110 meters in 13.85.
Women’s Sprints & Hurdles
Much like the men, FSU’s women are headlined by a deep and talented junior class, and one of the most talented sprint signing classes in program history. Their hopes begin with the juniors, led by sprinter Shauna Helps, hurdler Peta-Gay Williams and 400-meter specialist Shaquania Dorsett, and complemented nicely by sophomore hurdler Cortney Jones.
That quartet was responsible for 25 for the Noles’ 74 team points in a third place finish at the ACC Indoor Championships. There’s every reason to expect that total to increase, and along with it, FSU’s shot at an ACC title.
Helps, the two-time ACC Outdoor 100-meter champion, owns indoor personal-bests of 7.37 (60) and 23.56 (200), which rank sixth and fourth, respectively, on FSU’s all-time top 10 list. She was a finalist in both events at the ACC Indoor Championships last year.
Williams narrowly missed qualifying for the NCAA Indoor Championships last season in the 60-meter hurdles, with her personal-best 8.15 falling just .02 off the final qualifying spot. Still she managed to grab silver at the ACC Indoor Championships and enters the season with the No. 3 time in program history. Close behind is Jones, who enrolled last January after graduating from high school in December, and turned in a bronze medal performance in the 60-meter hurdles at the ACC Championships. Jones’ top mark of 8.18 sits No. 4 on the all-time list.
Dorsett got her finest collegiate campaign to date off on the right foot when she laid down a personal-best 53.84 400 at the ACC Indoor Championships, good for seventh in the meet and No. 5 all-time among Noles. She will be even more valuable this season if the Noles are able to put together a potentially outstanding 4×400 relay team.
Sophomores Janae Caldwell and Kimmie Cunningham have shown signs of significant improvement in the 400 and could well be a part of that relay group. Sophomores Alina Stewart and Nia Flagg, and redshirt freshman Ilena Garcia add depth in the shorter sprints.
Still, it’s the trio of freshmen signees – Jayla Kirkland, Ka’Tia Seymour and Karimah Davis – who could well make this one of the top sprint groups the Noles have had since the powerhouse teams of the 1980s.
Kirkland (Birmingham, Ala.) possesses tremendous range. The 2017 national leader in the 60-meter dash, she won gold at the New Balance Nationals in 7.27 and ranked among the top 10 nationally indoors in the 200 (23.88), 300 (38.16) and 400 (54.43).
Seymour (Palatka, Fla.) has limited indoor experience but has arguably been one of the nation’s best sprinters outdoors over the past two years with personal-bests of 11.26 (100) and a slightly windy 22.89 200.
Davis (West Palm Beach, Fla.), like Kirkland, is blessed with great range. Indoors last season she ranked second nationally indoors in the 400 (52.91) and fourth in the 200 (23.67) and has also run 11.49 outdoors in the 100.
Next Up: FSU’s formidable throws group.