IOWA CITY, Iowa – One year after posting 10 event victories, Florida State’s indoor track & field teams return to the University of Iowa to compete in the Larry Wieczorek Invitational, Friday and Saturday at the Hawkeye Recreational Complex.
The nine-team meet will be contested on the 200-meter banked track, which was purchased from Portland, Ore. after it hosted the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships. In addition to the host Hawkeyes and Noles, the field includes LSU, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa State, Kansas State, Virginia and Arizona. Five women’s teams are nationally ranked in the USTFCCA preseason top 25, led by No. 7 LSU, while Virginia (No. 16) is the lone ranked men’s team competing
“This meet is really good,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “For this early in the year to roll out nine teams that are quality Power 5 programs with little pockets of excellence, its’ not easy. You’d like to ignore Iowa State, but you know what they’re going to do in distance. You’d like to ignore Kansas State but you know what they’re going to do in field events. It’s just talent across the board. You know Virginia is going to have throws, distance and field events (standouts).”
The Noles won’t be short on talent either, thanks in large part to a group of youngsters, led by four freshmen who will either be making their collegiate debuts or opening up in their specialty individual events.
Among that group putting on FSU’s vests for the first time are:
“That’s an accomplished group,” Braman said. “Those guys and girls are all high school superstars so getting them out there and cutting them loose, I know they’re all chomping at the bit to get out there.
“That’s exciting. We’re going to have, presumably, Andre Ewers, who is an unbelievable talent and Tye Dickens, again, who is a really good freshman. The field event guys will be going full approach in the triple jump with Armani (Wallace) and Montel (Nevers). So some of our better athletes are going to cut loose.”
A year ago the Noles men and women won 10 events in what was then a quad meet with the host Hawkeyes, Iowa State and Northern Iowa. It was just the third of five meets contested on Iowa’s new track last season.
Sophomore Peta-Gay Williams’ 60-meter hurdles win in 8.24 was especially noteworthy because it remains the facility, meet and track record. In all, the Noles set records in nine events, which still stand in some capacity. Seven of those athletes will compete this weekend.
Last year a trio of freshmen recorded record-setting victories. Eleonora Omoregie won the high jump (1.80m/5-10.75) in what remains a track and meet record, while Bert Freire’s 800 victory in 1:52.20 still stands as the track and meet mark. Steven Simpkins holds the meet 400-meter record (48.76) following his win as well.
Among the other Noles back for another round, junior Armani Wallace claimed the triple jump title with a track record best of 15.58m (51-1.5), which is also the meet record. Then-junior Gleneve Grange won the shot put (16.11m/52-10.25) and is back to build on her meet record. So is sophomore Nicole Breske, who won the pole vault (3.65m/11-11.75).
In addition to the aforementioned group, women’s middle distance/distance newcomers Jodie Judd and Maudie Skyring figure to factor in the 3,000-meter run and mile, respectively.
“Those two have been looking good in practice and both of them are really excited to get going,” Braman said. “As young as they are, they’re both accomplished. They’re not going to get swallowed up by the moment. While the talent is pretty good, it’s not going to be ACC-level yet.
“I think you’ll see a little bit of that with the Virginia pack and Istvan Szogi in the 3000. He’s in a really hot 3k race, so that will be interesting. I’m also interested to see what (Bert) Freire is going to do in a good 800, because he competed well two weeks ago and we just threw him in there with zero speed work.”
Braman said he hopes the competition travel party of 51 – 26 men and 25 men – will pile up quite a few ACC Indoor Championships auto-qualifying marks
“The big mission for 75-80 percent of this group is to try and get an ACC mark, so that’s goal No. 1.
“It’s a good group and I think by the time we get to the end of the indoor season you’re going to see how good our depth is. Numbers 20-25 on each roster are going to be pretty stout.”
Beyond the ACC standards, the Noles have quite a few veterans hunting bigger game as the indoor season moves on to the second meet of the season.
“The people that can reach NCAA standards, which is still early to do, we’d like to see get them or get close,” Braman said.
That group include Droogsma, Omoregie and a host of jumpers.
“All of those people who have been at a national level can get in a meet like this, though it’s early, and get a piece of it,” Braman added. “It’s early, but it’s never too early for people to actually punch their ticket. It’s kind of crazy to be talking that way, but Eleonora is capable, Droogsma has got to firm it up but I think he’s OK. Darryl Haraway, Andre Ewers – those guys’ PR’s are good enough – so maybe we can get a few marks in addition to trying to get the conference marks.
“It will be interesting to see where those women’s sprinters, how close are they, to 60-meter qualifying marks this early.”
Droogsma, an NCAA qualifier who currently ranks fifth nationally in the shot put, was second at the meet last year. So was Haraway in the 60-meter dash. Meanwhile, Eleonora Omoregie (high jump), Bert Freire (800m), Armani Wallace (triple jump), Gleneve Grange (shot put), Steven Simpkins (400) and Nicole Breske (pole vault) all return to defend titles.
“It’s going to be a really good meet,” Braman said. “A lot of credit goes to the Iowa staff, for not just bringing this World Championships track that they brought in and set up last year, but just the job they do with the meet. They treat you first class…This is a first class meet and the Iowa staff deserves a ton of credit for the meet and also for collecting these good teams from all over the country.”
Competition begins Friday with the women’s pole vault and men’s weight throw at 2 p.m. (CT), resumes Saturday at 1 p.m. with the women’s shot put at 1 p.m. and concludes with the 4×400 relays at 6:45 p.m.
You can follow the action daily via Twitter @FSU_Track or monitor live stats at here: http://www.wayzataresults.com/events/details/1148
Daily updates will be posted at www.seminoles.com.