FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Florida State track & field teams won’t have any trouble finding competition at this weekend’s Razorback Invitational; an 11-team meet which includes nine top 25 women’s teams and six more on the men’s side.
“This is about as good as it gets for January,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “These are the monsters of indoor track – Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, LSU. This is big-time. This is also the time of year where we’re flowing freely. We’re not tight and over-compensating. It’s one of those meets where you come in here, compete against the best and really try to go big. Don’t just inch forward.
“This is a chance, with very little penalty, to come in and try and drop a few bombs. Who is the next Ewers? Who is the next Trey Cunningham? It’s a great opportunity.”
The Seminoles cashed in on a similar opportunity last weekend when Andre Ewers laid down the nation’s fastest 60-meter dash time and Cunningham debuted with the No. 6 mark nationally in the 60-meter hurdles. Neither will compete this weekend at the Randal Tyson Track Center, billed as the “Fastest Track in the World.”
As speed events go, Friday’s schedule is relatively light, with the men’s and women’s 200-meter dash capping the day. Field events are highlighted on the opening day of competition.
Junior Dante Newberg gets the meet started for the Noles with the first event in his opening heptathlon of the season, alongside teammate Hunter Napier, beginning at 1:45 p.m. (ET). Newberg, sixth at the ACC Indoor Championships last year with a personal-best 5,186 points, is poised for yet another breakthrough.
Pole vaulters Nicole Breske and Elizabeth Eversole follow at 3 p.m. and Brandon Tirado competes in the weight throw at 5:15.
The men’s long jump has long been a featured event at Arkansas and this meet is no different, with Noles standouts Kenneth Fisher, Armani Wallace and Jacore Irving competing against the likes of Florida’s defending national champion KeAndre Bates, beginning at 6:45. Fisher and Irving are coming off season-bests last week at Iowa.
“I always say this, unless you’re sick or hurt, when you have two meets back-to-back, the second one is almost always way better,” Braman said. “You just get in that intensity, that competition groove, which takes a little stoking on a two-week gap.
“The most likely people to put out a home run, a national mark, are our men’s horizontal jumpers and our women’s sprints and hurdles…You’d like to see GG [Gleneve Grange] get to the national level in the shot put. GG could do it.”
If Braman’s line of thinking holds true the Noles could get some promising results in the high jump, where sophomore Eleonora Omoregie leads a trio of women, while Corion Knight and Qayyim Ali represent the men when their competition gets underway at 7 p.m.
The Noles men and women will also send distance medley relay teams out for the first time this season.
Day one closes with the 200, beginning with the men at 7:30 p.m. Freshman Darryl Gay, fresh off an impressive debut 60-meter performance, will compete in the 200 along with 400 specialist Kyle Fearrington. The women’s 200, will feature junior Shauna Helps, who opened up with an ACC-leading 23.82 at Clemson in the season opener, and freshman Ka’Tia Seymour. Seymour debuted with the No. 9 60-meter dash in the nation last week and her final 200 in high school – outdoors last May – produced a national, all-conditions-leading time of 22.89.
The competition heats up even more on Saturday. Among the highlighted events, senior Austin Droogsma, ranked ninth nationally in the shot put, will get his first look at a loaded field paced by national leader Denzel Comenentia of Georgia.
Edward Clarke will be out to improve on his season-best 6.77 in the 60-meter dash for the men, while Seymour will try and lower her 7.31 and Helps tackles the 60 for the first time this season. Cortney Jones will be eyeing a trip to the finals in the 60-meter hurdles.
Montel Nevers and Wallace are among five Noles competing against a stout triple jump field, while Grange has a pair of top-16 national performers in the cross-hairs for the women’s shot put.
The men’s distance team will open up in force with the season debut of Steven Cross in the 3000, where he will be joined by Caleb Pottorff, Stanley Linton and Grant Nykaza in the invitational event. Michael Hall, who ranks third all-time among Noles in the mile, will compete in the invitational race at that distance for the men, while Militsa Mircheva, Jodie Judd and Emily Edwards earned spots in the invitational women’s event.
“There are a lot of exciting things that can come out of this meet,” Braman added. “It’s always a national mission and then a conference mission. I think we can do both this weekend and come out of here and improve our national ranking for both teams, for sure.”
You can follow the action via Twitter @FSU_Track, or keep track via live results at http://flashresults.com/2018_Meets/Indoor/01-26_Razorback/.
Friday’s track action will be streamed via SEC+ beginning at 7 p.m. (ET) at http://www.espn.com/watch/_/id/3264449/razorback-invitational. Saturday’s action will air on the SEC Network beginning at 2 p.m. (ET), and also be available via live stream http://www.espn.com/watch/_/id/3245812/sec-track–field-razorback-invitational.