KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Competing in one of the most storied college track & field meets in the southeast, the Florida State men and women will face plenty of competition over the next three days at the 50th annual Tennessee Relays.
The Seminole women, ranked 10th in this week’s USTFCCCA National Rankings, will face off against the likes of No. 2 Kentucky, No. 12 Tennessee, No. 14 Virginia Tech and No. 18 Ole Miss.
FSU’s men, who are just outside the top 25 at No. 30, will have an opportunity to continue to climb the rankings with No. 14 Tennessee, No. 15 Ole Miss and No. 18 Virginia Tech among the 16 teams competing at Tom Black Track.
Action begins Thursday morning when sophomore Dante Newberg begins his quest decathlon quest at 10:30 a.m. with the 100-meter dash marking the first of his 10 events over the next two days. The Tampa, Fla. native comes into the year with a freshman season-best total of 6,177 points, but is vastly improved over his maiden season as a multi-event athlete with the Noles.
“Dante’s been hitting lifetime bests in nearly every event so far,” FSU coach Bob Braman said of the Tampa, Fla. native, who placed sixth at the ACC Indoor Championships in the heptathlon. “It will be interesting to see what his 10-event score will be.”
Thursday’s schedule will also include hammer throwers Veronika Kanuchova and Brandon Tirado. Kanuchova, who set the school record in her season-opener at USF, is coming off a disappointing performance at the Florida Relays. Tirado will try and established his third personal-best performance in four meets after climbing to No. 4 on FSU’s all-time list.
Redshirt sophomore and Tallahassee native Tyson Murray will compete in his first collegiate 10,000-meter run to close the evening schedule, having already set a pair of personal-bests in the 5000 this season.
The action picks up significantly on Friday, here most of the competition will be contested in individual events. Track fans will be able to follow the action ESPN3 or the WatchESPN app, from 3-7:40 p.m.
“Many of our indoor stars will get their outdoor seasons rolling at Tennessee Relays,” Braman said. Jogaile Petrokaite gets her first long jumps in and Eleonora Omoregie will high Jump for the first time outdoors.”
Petrokaite and Omoregie last competed in their specialty events at the NCAA Indoor Championships last month.
“On the men’s side we’ll see 2016 Indoor All-American Jake Burton in the 800 and 2017 Indoor All-American Montel Nevers returns to the triple jump after a week off,” Braman added. “I’m also really excited to see how far Mike Hall and Jaap Vellinga have come. Their workouts have been outstanding.”
The 800 and 1600 figure to be outstanding events with Burton and Vellinga in the two-lap event, with Hall tangling against a loaded 1500-meter first heat including standouts from Virginia Tech and Middle Tennessee, among others.
Among other Noles anxious to kick the outdoor season into gear is senior hurdler Nicole Setterington, who has not competed since suffering an injury at the ACC Indoor Championships. The 2016 NCAA Outdoor Championships qualifier in the 100-meter hurdles, ranks No. 2 all-time at FSU (12.98) and will be lined up alongside freshman teammate Cortney Jones, who has already ready 13.06 this season and currently ranks seventh nationally.
Gleneve Grange will compete in the women’s shot put and Emmanuel Onyia is slated for action for the men in the event.
“Coach Dorian Scott’s wrecking crew will look to build on their national marks, although Austin Droogsma [No. 2 nationally in the shot put] is getting the week off,” Braman added.
Scott’s impressive group of nationally ranked discus throwers lead Saturday’s individual event competition. Led by NCAA leader Kellion Knibb, the Seminole women boast three of the nation’s top 45 throwers, with Grange at No. 4 and freshman Shanice Love at No. 45. On the men’s side, Onyia ranks 13th in the discus.
Ed’Ricus Williams is tied for fourth nationally in the men’s high jump and eager to erase the memories of a sub-par performance last week. In the horizontal jumps, seventh-ranked sophomore Armani Wallace and NCAA Indoor eight-place finisher Montel Nevers will compete in the triple jump.
Saturday’s action on the track is reserved exclusively for relays and the Seminoles have a plan of attack for those as well.
The focus will be in the 4×100 relay teams for the men and women, who have yet to put together NCAA East Preliminary-worthy marks, which they will be chasing with significantly bolstered lineups. Several of the coaches have also decided to use the relay portion of the meet for some training in one-off events like the 4×200 and 4×800.
As is always the case, the Noles will close the meet out with solid 4×400 relay teams.
In addition to the nationally ranked teams, the Noles will butt heads with Vanderbilt, Indiana, Illinois, Rutgers, Ohio State, Southern Illinois, Middle Tennessee and Eastern Michigan, as well as ACC rivals North Carolina, Duke and Georgia Tech.
You can keep pace with the Noles via Twitter from Tom Black Track @FSU_Track, while live results (except field events) can be followed at http://www.adkinstrak.com/meet/?meet_id=672
Friday’s action will be streamed on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app from 3-7:40 p.m. at http://es.pn/2oFJPJH and on Saturday from 12-4 p.m. here http://es.pn/2n8Eeyk.