Feb. 5, 2007
With the indoor season underway, the men of Florida State’s track and field team are not only focused on defending their indoor conference championship but on being contenders for their first indoor national title.
“We’ve won eight of the last ten ACC indoor and outdoor championships,” head Coach Bob Braman said. “So we’re trying to defend our conference indoor championship, which we won three out of the last four. The ones that have been the closest have been the indoor championships.”
The challenge of the indoor season is fewer events and for the Seminoles it means the loss of the steeplechase and the 4x100m relay, two events that the men’s team excels at.
“There are a lot of things that don’t set up well for our men indoors,” Braman said. “But at the same token it’s usually a very, very close battle between us and Clemson. And now some of the other teams are getting better and are closing the gap, teams like Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and UNC are coming to mind.”
“For the most part, we’re trying to defend our indoor ACC championship but we won’t do it at the expense of our national placements. Last year we held Walter out since he was a little banged up and we may have to do that again. It’s still our philosophy where we’re not going to run Tom and Andrew in three or four races just because they can. We just don’t do that indoors or outdoors.”
One of the goals for the indoor season is to prepare the men for the outdoor national championship, which is the ultimate goal.
“For the indoor national championship we want to contend for the title,” Braman said. “Or depending how it shakes out with the injuries and qualifying, we want to be as good as we can possibly be. We were third last year but very close to the title and I believe we could get the points needed to win it this year.”
“We thought this year if we’re going to compete with Arkansas at Arkansas, we need to look at where they score points. Arkansas does really well in the 3K, 5K and they dominate the distance medley relay. So we looked at those and figured whether we can do it or not, we need to get into the events that Arkansas is running well at. So this year Andrew Lemoncello will run the 5K, Tom Lancashire will run the 3K and we’ll put together a tough DMR with Lancashire, Andre Krumins, Tommy Noyes and possibly Ricardo Chambers.”
Remaining contenders and limiting points for other teams is the key for Florida State and they must remain contenders to at least limit those points. Last year we sat in the stand and clapped for everyone else who tried to help us. So our thought this year was to build the DMR and the 4x400m at the national championship so we can have the points instead of counting on others and focusing on just a few areas.
This year’s squad is similar to last year’s in that they are going to be an across the board team and should score in many areas.
With the loss of national champions Garrett Johnson in the shot put and Rafeeq Curry in the triple jump, the Seminoles may be slightly lacking in the field events. Regardless of that, the men remain a good conference team with a lot of depth in the distance and short and long sprints.
Overall, the indoor season is a short season where the greatest challenge for most teams is getting those qualifying marks for nationals. The conference meet, held at Clemson, is not considered a very fast track as it has very tight turns, so other than a few of the field events and the short sprints it is going to be somewhat difficult for Florida State to get many qualifiers from there. Therefore the Seminoles will look to the New Balance and Arkansas meets, as well as the Last Chance which is leading in the conference championship, to get everyone qualified.
“A lot of it is not getting sick and not getting hurt and it’s a little out of our hands to be honest,” Braman said. “So we’ll see what happens, but we’re not going to panic over it. We’re going to look at it as we’re an incredibly good outdoor team and that’s what we came here to do. That will stay our mission and we won’t sacrifice any of our athletes to change that because we could go too crazy indoors and be out of gas for outdoors.”
Junior stand-out Walter Dix returns as the defending national champion in the 200m and looks to better his second place finish in the 60m. Senior Greg Bolden started off the indoor season this year as the fastest 60m runner in the nation with his time of 6.14 at the UF Intercollegiates. At the indoor nationals last season, Bolden scored in seventh place and was an All-American in the 60m.
Returning for his sophomore season is Michael Ray Garvin who will contend for his chance to compete at his first indoor nationals in the 60m. New to the squad this year is high school national champion in the 55m Charles Clark who is also a three-time junior national champion in the 100m, 200m, and 800m.
Also returning this season, after an injury kept him out most of last season, is senior Cedric Nabe who has already provisionally qualified in the 60m but hopes to earn his first individual bid to the nationals.
“We’re very, very strong in the sprints with a lot of depth,” Braman said. “We have a lot of guys who are high-level conference athletes who need to make that next step, like Greg Bolden did last year, and join Walter at the national meet.”
Leading the long sprints will be junior Ricardo Chambers who had the eighth fastest time in the world last year in the outdoor 400m.
“Ricardo is just a dominant guy who will be a big part of the 4x400m relays as well,” Braman said. “Also returning will be sophomore Tywayne Buchanan, who as a freshman last year finished third and made All-ACC in the outdoor 400m, who just needs to make the transition into indoors.”
Adding to the returnees are sophomore Willie Gaines and junior Hubert Mitchell. The men will be six or seven deep in the 400m and newcomers like Charles Clark can step-in and run the 400m, much like Walter Dix did his freshman year, if it is needed.
“We hope to get both relays qualified for nationals,” Braman said. “At our best we can contend for the national championship in the distance medley with Tom Lancashire, Andrew Krumins, Tommy Noyes and any one of our 400m runners. But certainly adding a guy like Ricardo Chambers would make one beast of a relay.”
Bringing in junior transfer Drew Brunson, a national qualifier at Tennessee last year, is a huge addition for this event.
“In the hurdles, Javier Garcia-Tunon continues to be a conference scorer,” Braman said. “I’m sure Elliott Wood will run some high hurdles, although that’s not his normal event. So overall we’ll have at least two conference scorers in the high hurdles.”
Returning for his senior season is Tom Lancashire who is ranked in the top 50 in the world and posted the fastest 800m time of all collegians last year. Also running this year will be returning junior Tommy Noyes and newcomer Andrew Krumins. Senior Chris Potter who made both the indoor and outdoor finals and scored at the outdoor ACC championship will come in as a senior leader and try to score some points.
“Tom is a guy who can cover the 800m in the relays for us whether or not he runs the open 800m,” Braman said. “We also have veteran senior Chris Potter who could also score points and we expect he’ll come in and do just that.”
Andrew Lemoncello, ACC champion in the 3K and 5K, will defend his title in those events while teammate Tom Lancashire will run up to the 3K. Adding to the distance team this year will be the two new steeplechasers juniors Mark Buckingham and Luke Gunn.
Senior John Fallone, who has thrown 59 feet in the past, will lead the shot put this lead.
“We’re hoping John can get to 59 feet again,” Braman said. “In the shot put, 60 feet is a huge college barrier and if you’re over 60 then you’re big time.”
Also returning in the throws is junior Matt Wernke who scored last year in the weight throw at the conference championship. The throws group has two ACC-level people who could step up to the next level, whether it be indoor or outdoor, and compete at the NCAA championship.
Hurley, a senior on the team, made it to regionals last year and just missed making it to the outdoor nationals. He’s a big time pole vaulter for the Seminoles who has been in the top three or four several times. Cotton, also a senior, scored with his fifth place finish at the ACC indoors last year.
“So we have two high scoring seniors in the pole vault in league, that is very good in the pole vault,” Braman said.
Returning sophomore Tim Reen scored in the high jump at the ACC indoors and will return as the veteran jumper.
Transfer Drew Brunson will also compete in the high jump for the Seminoles. Brunson has jumped just shy of seven feet, a high standard for men, and placed high in the SEC while at Tennessee.
What may be a surprise is Javier Garcia-Tunon, who has scored in both indoor and outdoor in the high jump.
“We’ve got a pretty deep contingent in the high jump with some guys like Drew and Javi who can also do other things,” Braman said.
The long jump is an event where Florida State has been good in the past, but this season with the loss of Brian Chibudu, standout newcomer from Zimbabwe, due to an injury the Seminoles are a little thin in this event.
“There’s a possibility of Rod Owens competing in the jumps for us,” Braman said. “He was the star long and triple jumper in high school so he could possibly help us.”