June 7, 2017 - by

Wednesday NCAA Primer: Three Noles Get Things Started

EUGENE, Ore. – Three qualifiers from the Florida State men’s track & field team will get the Seminoles’ NCAA Outdoor Championships quest underway Wednesday from Historic Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus.

Freshman Carlos Becker III will make his NCAA Championships debut at 9 p.m. (ET), followed closely by senior James Rhoden in the preliminary heats of the 400-meter hurdles (9:30) and redshirt junior Austin Droogsma in the shot put (9:40).

Here’s an event-by-event look at how the Seminoles stack up in their respective events.

Men’s Long Jump – Carlos Becker III, Freshman
Flight 1, Sixth in Order at 9:00 p.m. (ET)

After an eighth-place finish at the ACC Championships, Becker entered the NCAA East Preliminary meet as the No. 31 seed in the field of 48, but leaped his way to Eugene with a jump of 7.47 meters (24-6.25). It was his best legal mark of the season and good enough for the 12th and final qualifying spot out of the East.

An outstanding athlete who had a high school best mark of 7.62m (25-0), Becker comes into the competition with the 23rd best mark in the 24-man field (7.55m/24-9.25-w), which he posted at the Tom Jones Memorial in a fourth-place finish. It was aided by the narrowest (2.1) of helping winds.

On paper, Becker is not supposed to make the nine-man final, which will be contested at the conclusion of the two simultaneously-run, 12-man flights. Of course he faced similar odds in Lexington, Ky., where he answered the challenge.

Few field events provide more finalists from outside the top 12 seeds than the long jump, and seldom does a mark in the neighborhood of 7.60m not make the final. Becker has both the ability and the proven performance under his belt to earn three additional jumps.

The Favorites: There are seven men in the field with season-best marks of 8.00 meters or better, but only two of those were not wind-aided. Florida junior KeAndre Bates (8.15m-w), who was third at the 2016 NCAA Championships, Texas A&M junior Will Williams (8.09m) and Florida freshman Grant Holloway (8.04m-w) are the front-runners.

How to Watch: Beginning at 8:50 p.m. (ET), Flight 2 of the men’s long jump and the final, will be streamed live on ESPN3/WatchESPN at http://www.espn.com/watch/_/id/3093771/ncaa-track–field-outdoor-championships-mens-long-jump-trials–flight-2–final

Men’s 400-Meter Hurdles – James Rhoden, Redshirt Senior
Heat 2, Lane 1 at 9:30 p.m. (ET)

In his final season of competition, the one-time FSU football walk-on has made his way to the NCAA Championships for the first time courtesy an outstanding season. Rhoden’s season-best of 50.83 ranks just outside FSU’s all-time top 10, and he has designs on cracking that list, which will require an improvement to 50.63.

One of seven ACC finalists to advance to the NCAA Championships in the event, Rhoden will be racing alongside plenty of familiar faces. Four of his conference competitors join him in a loaded second heat, which also includes defending national champion Eric Futch of Florida. UNC’s Kenny Selmon, the ACC champion and bronze medalist last year, is in his heat along with Arkansas’ Kemar Mowatt, who owns the No. 3 team among collegians this year.

Rhoden, who has dramatically improved his leg speed this season and qualified 10th-fastest from the East Prelims (50.89), had the misfortune of drawing a lane 1 assignment. On the plus side, he will have a good view of the entire field and could well make his way into the finals as one of two qualifiers on time if he finishes outside the top two. (Note: The top two in each of three heats advance to Friday’s final, along with the next two fastest times).

Virginia Tech’s Greg Chiles drew lane 2, with Selmon in lane 6 and his UNC teammate Rilwan Alowonle in lane 7.

The Favorites: Defending NCAA champion Eric Futch and his Florida teammate and 2016 silver medalist TJ Holmes will have their hands full in an ascending event on the collegiate national scene. Texas’ Byron Robinson (48.58) holds the fastest time this season in the field and UCLA’s Rai Benjamin (48.91) ranks fifth. In all, the top six finishers from the 2016 NCAA Championships are back this year.

How to Watch: Beginning at 8:30 p.m. (ET), ESPN will carry live action from the meet in primetime, which is also being streamed live on WatchESPN at http://www.espn.com/watch/_/id/3064272/2017-ncaa-mens–womens-track–field-outdoor-championships-presented-by-northwestern-mutual

Men’s Shot Put – Austin Droogsma, Redshirt Junior
Flight 2, First in Order at 9:40 p.m. (ET)

Few Seminoles have climbed as quickly onto the national scene as Droogsma, who enters the shot put with the No. 9 mark collegiately (19.70m/64-7.75) among those in the field. The Gulf Breeze, Fla. native has been remarkably consistent outdoors, following his 13th-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

Not only has Droogsma not finished outside the top three in any competition this season, he finished in front of four men in the field with better season marks when he opened up the NCAA East competition with a throw of 19.62 meters, which qualified him third overall for the final site.

Droogsma ranks third all-time at Florida State behind two-time NCAA champion Garrett Johnson and two-time Olympian – and his coach – Dorian Scott.

He counts wins at the FSU Relays, Florida Relays and Stanford’s Cardinal Classic among his accomplishments this year, and he was second at the Penn Relays.

The Favorites: Colorado State’s Hassan Mostafa (21.31m), who won the NCAA Indoor title and is unbeaten this season, is the heavy favorite in a field which includes defending NCAA champion and Droogsma’s ACC rival, Filip Mihaljevic of Virginia. Those two are among five men in the field with season-bests in excess of 20 meters, a mark the Seminole has been flirting with on a regular basis.

How to Watch: Beginning at 9:30 p.m. (ET), ESPN3/WatchESPN will provide a live stream focused solely on Droogsma’s Flight 2 competition and will continue through the finals at  http://www.espn.com/watch/_/id/3093770/ncaa-track–field-outdoor-championships-mens-shot-put-trials–flight-2–final

In addition to the unprecedented broadcast coverage of the championships from ESPN, live results are available at http://www.ncaa.com/sites/default/files/external/track-field/results/d1/outdoor17/final/index.htm

Additionally, live updates will be available via Twitter @FSU_Track with a complete wrap up of each day at the conclusion of competition at Seminoles.com.

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