TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State’s Mike Long Track will be the hub of activity over the next three days as home to the Atlantic Coast Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships for a second consecutive year.
Action begins Friday morning with the men’s hammer (9:30) and concludes Sunday with the 4×400 relays set to commence at 8:30 p.m. In between athletes from 15 schools will compete in 21 events with the top eight scoring in each, ultimately leading to the crowning of men’s and women’s team champions.
The Seminoles have some experience when it comes to championships, with the men looking to add to their streak of three consecutive titles and 11 overall. The women have won three titles, most recently in 2014, but have not finished lower than fourth in 24 years of ACC membership.
“It is great to host for a whole bunch of reasons,” Florida State coach Bob Braman said, whose teams will have the chance to compete for ACC titles at home in consecutive years. It marks the first time in the 52-year history of the conference the meet has been contested at the same site in consecutive years.
“With parents, teammates, classmates, administration and other teams it’s a very positive atmosphere to be here,” Braman added. “You get excited; you get all jacked up. Then the familiarity. We know our runways. Knowing the circles, you have that familiarity.”
Of course the Noles will also have the benefit of being acclimatized to the Florida heat, and the ability to get out of that heat in their own training room, locker room and lounge.
Ultimately, the competition will be decided on the track and in the field areas, and the ACC offers some of the top talent in the country. Three Seminoles – Kellion Knibb (No. 5, discus), Zak Seddon (No. 2, steeplechase) and Stefan Brits (No. 6 long jump) – are among 27 ACC competitors ranked in the top-10 nationally.
And you can expect, in an Olympic year, that there will be more than a few competing athletes who will conclude their summer in Rio.
Yet for the next three days the focus will be getting the championship season off to a big start.
“The tradition of Florida State track & field, with very few exceptions, is we bring our best,” Braman said. “We do our best on that day. We’ve had under-manned teams like this indoor season where we over-performed on both sides and put ourselves in pretty good position…We are ACC combatants. We do a good job. We need to do better than we did indoors. We need to uphold that standard that has been there. We’ve won a lot of them.”
After leading the ACC Indoor Championships through the better part of two days, the Seminole women finished fourth, while the men placed sixth, but just nine points removed from third.
“We need to perform well and we should, because this is the beginning of the championship season, it is not the end,” Braman added.
The opening day of the meet revolves around qualifying with one running final – the 10,000-meter run – where senior Christine Griggs projects as a scorer. In the field events, school record-holder Katja Vangsnes is seeded third as she chases her first ACC title as a senior.
“It’s key qualifying in the 200 and men’s and women’s 1500 for our championship hopes…and you have to set yourself up in the multis,” Braman said.
Jamal Pitts, Darryl Haraway and Stephen Sutherland all ranks among the top 10 in the ACC in the 200, where they will chase eight spots for the final. Graduate student Jande Pierce will also be hunting a spot in the women’s 200.
Senior Georgia Peel and sophomore Bridget Blake will hunt spots in the 1500 women’s final, while Seddon and Michael Hall will do the same on the men’s side.
Then there’s the matter of the heptathlon, where favorite Grete Sadeiko and third-seeded Melissa-Maree Farrington will compete in four of seven events on the opening day. Sadeiko was the 2014 ACC champion, while Farrington, a junior transfer, is chasing an NCAA Championship qualifying standard.
Redshirt freshman Brandon Tirado will get things started in the men’s hammer at 9:30 a.m. Tirado is one of 26 Seminoles – 15 men and 11 women – competing in their first ACC Outdoor Championships out of 55 FSU athletes entered for competition.
You can follow the action via Twitter @FSU_track and follow the live results http://noles.co/1UWZq3I throughout the three-day meet.
The meet will also be streamed live on ESPN3 each night, beginning at 6 p.m. with Florida State’s own Tom Block calling the action and Olympic medalist and Miami great Lauryn Williams providing the color commentary.
Admission to the meet is free of charge.