TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State track & field teams return to action Saturday at Clemson’s Orange & Purple Invitation; the season-opening event on the indoor schedule.
For the Seminole men and women, it will be their lone trip to Clemson before they return for the 2018 ACC Indoor Championships (Feb. 22-24), where both teams will chase titles.
In advance of the opener, we are taking a daily look at the Seminole rosters by event group and follow Tuesday’s sprints segment with a close look at the Dorian Scott-coached throws group:
Gleneve Grange has her sights set on an encore senior campaign after setting the bar ridiculously high with a record-setting junior season; her first with the Noles. In 2017 she broke FSU records in the shot put (indoors and outdoors), was the ACC Outdoor Championships Field MVP, earned first-team All-American honors in the discus and capped the year by representing Jamaica’s senior national team for the first time at the IAAF World Championships in the shot put.
The junior college transfer kicked off her breakout year by setting the indoor shot put school record for the first at the Tyson Invitational (16.32 meters), which she broke with her bronze medal ACC Championships performance (16.54m/54-3.25). That marked ranked No. 20 nationally; less than a foot off earning a trip to the NCAA Indoor Championships – where she has every intention of competing this time around.
With Kellion Knibb graduated and Veronika Kanuchova headed for a redshirt, the Noles will look to a couple of newcomers to fill the scoring voids.
Shanice Love isn’t new to the program, but she will be competing indoors for the first time. A second-team All-American outdoors in the discus as a true freshman, she will take her sizeable athletic skills into the shot put circle for the first time indoors and the first time in the event since January of 2015.
Oklahoma State graduate transfer Ieva Zarankaite may well be the most versatile thrower to ever suit up for the Noles. The Lithuania native will get busy right away indoors, competing in both the shot put and weight throw, where she holds respective indoor personal-bests of 15.24m (50-0) and 16.13m (52-11). Zarankaite, who arrived on campus this week, was fourth in the shot put at the Big 12 Indoor Championships last season and reached the finals in 2016.
Fifth-year senior Austin Droogsma is as healthy and strong as he has been at any point in his Florida State career. That’s an especially promising development for the Gulf Breeze, Fla. native – and the Noles – considering his breakthrough in 2017.
After missing the 2016 season due to a shoulder injury, Droogsma powered his way to massive PBs in the shot put indoors and outdoors, advancing to the NCAA Championships for the first time in his career and posting a pair of second-team All-American honors.
The breakthrough came at the ACC Indoor Championships where he powered out a huge personal-best of 19.14 meters (62-9.5) to finish second and secure a trip to the NCAA Indoor Championships, where he was 13th. He followed up the first 19-meter throw of his career by eclipsing that standard in six of seven outdoor meets. Ranked No. 3 all-time at FSU (indoors and outdoors), Droogsma’s next milestone is the 20-meter mark, a standard eclipsed indoors by only FSU great Garrett Johnson (20.48m/67-2.25).
The 20-meter mark is also in the crosshairs of junior weight throw specialist Brandon Tirado, who in two short seasons has gone from not making the ACC Indoor Championships roster to finishing seventh there in 2017. Tirado dialed up his personal-best last year at Notre Dame (19.24m/63-1.5) and climbed all the way to No. 4 on FSU’s all-time list.
That’s a long way from where the Naples, Fla. native began his career as a walk-on freshman with a PB of 16.67 meters, and not nearly as far away from B.J. Linnenbrink’s 16-year-old FSU record of 20.91 (68-7.25).
Coming Thursday: FSU’s deep and talent-rich jumpers
Tuesday: Sprints & Hurdles Preview http://seminoles.com/indoor-season-preview-sprints-and-hurdles/
Friday: Distance Preview