CLEMSON, S.C. – The building excitement around the Florida State track & field program gives way to action Saturday, when the Seminoles open the 2017 indoor season at the Clemson Invitational.
More than 50 Noles – men and women – will get their first taste of competition this season on a brand new banked indoor track which yielded an American sprint record in its maiden test last weekend. After four months of training, the meet provides an opportunity to knock off some competitive rust, gauge improvement and begin building toward bigger and more important events down the road.
“Our kids are champing at the bit to compete,” Florida State head coach Bob Braman said. “It’s been seven long months.”
For most, that is how much time has passed since they last pulled on their FSU uniforms.
A year ago the freshman-heavy Noles made plenty noise amidst the growing pains. Sprinters Edward Clarke, Darryl Haraway and Shauna Helps, and triple jumper Armani Wallace emerged as rising stars. For them, Saturday marks the next step in their progression.
“The sophomore class has made tremendous progress since last season,” Braman said. “Shauna, Darryl, Eddie and Armani are now ready to be leaders.”
So too is Shaquania Dorsett, who was bound for the Rio Olympics on the Bahamas’ 4×400 relay before the same injury that shortened her 2016 outdoor season, flared up at the worst of times.
At the opposite end, a trio of veteran women – seniors Nicole Setterington and Melissa-Maree Farrington, and junior Jogaile Petrokaite – have their sights fixed on the next phase of their careers after contributing to the 2016 ACC Outdoor Championship and earning NCAA Championship berths.
“They’re all poised to have monster seasons,” Braman said.
In between, a trio of veteran men’s throwers – Austin Droogsma, Emmanuel Onyia and Chad DaCosta – are anxious to leave their mark as the most senior segment on the squad. Droogsma and Onyia return from injuries which kept them out all of most of last year. DaCosta is eager to follow up on his best season with a senior campaign to remember.
The same holds true for senior long jumper Keniel Grant, who missed qualifying for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in a three-way tie-breaker.
Perhaps most exciting of all will be the first look at a host of freshmen and transfers, pulling on their Seminole singlets for the first time.
Among freshmen women on the track, middle distance runner Ginelle Demone and sprinters Kimmie Cunningham and Alina Stewart will kick off their collegiate careers. Touted prep pole vaulters Nicole Breske, Olivia Ogles and Summer Schafers get their first taste collegiate competition.
Redshirt junior Gleneve Grange may well be the biggest surprise of the preseason. In the process of sitting out last season while battling to be cleared to compete, the junior college transfer thrower has caught everyone’s attention as a potential shot put standout.
Among the men, Saturday’s competition will provide a first look at Steven Simpkins, Kyle Fearrington and Humberto Freire.
The first field events are set to begin at 11 a.m. with the women’s pole vault, high jump and weight throw, and the action on the track commences at 12:30 p.m. Live results are available here http://www.adkinstrak.com/meets/2017/Clemson_Indoor_Invite/ and Twitter followers can keep abreast of the action via @FSU_Track.
A complete recap will be posted Saturday night at Seminoles.com with a photo gallery to follow at www.facebook.com/FSUTrack/.