Jan. 26, 2007
Florida State may consider themselves as more of an outdoor team, but after their first showing of the indoor season at the UF Intercollegiates, the Seminoles appear to be contenders this year.
“We’re not built to be an indoor team and adding to that we don’t have Sarah Reed (Port Charlotte, FL) or Alycia Williams (Palm Coast, FL) as they only have outdoor eligibility this year,” Coach Braman said. “Sarah’s a national qualifier in the shot put who really blossomed last year and Alycia is also a national qualifier who anchors the 4x400m relay. Not having them for indoors means losing big points on the conference and the national scale.”
Although the Seminoles graduated a strong senior class including heavy-hitters Lacy Janson and Natalie Hughes (both All-American national scorers) and All-American Cynthia Niako, this year’s squad returns a handful of elite athletes and senior leaders.
“From an indoor standpoint we’re going to be short handed because it doesn’t feature some of the things that we’re good at and two of our senior leaders won’t be with us until outdoor season,” Braman said. “But that sort of matches our philosophy which is outdoor track is where we want to be good. We were ACC outdoor runners-up last year and at indoors we were no where near that good. That’s really typical for us. Before that we were sixth indoors and third outdoors. Our focus is really more toward the outdoor ACC’s.”
“We can be a conference contending team indoor depending on how well the other schools are doing. It seems to be more balanced this year due to graduation and other factors.”
This year the feeling is that conference rivals Miami, North Carolina and Georgia Tech might be beatable as they have all lost some key factors. The Seminoles graduated only three and lost two due to eligibility.
“I think we’ll be one of the upper echelon teams,” Braman said.
The short sprints have not been a real strong suit for the women for the past six or seven years. This year, a couple strong returnees matched with a handful of quality newcomers can help bring points in the short sprints for the Seminoles.
New additions to the squad include transfer Kamilah Salaam (Wilmington, DE), a true short sprinter and a high hurdler, and freshman Valerie Flournoy (Gainesville, FL), a former state champion. She and Kamilah will help each other in the high hurdles and they should be ACC scorers in that event.
“We also have Naikeya Heath (Killeen, TX), who is in her third year now,” Braman said. “She’s improved each year and was a very important part of our 4x100m last year. Flournoy, Heath, and Salaam will anchor the short sprints for us this year.”
Women’s sprints coach Jackie Richards is taking all of the quarter milers and converting them to also run the 200m for the indoor season.
In the 4x400m relay, Krystal Troutman (Miami, FL), a junior college national champion, joins several who were in the national qualifying 4x400m from the 2006 season which include India Pettus (Cleveland, OH), Kandia Batchelor (Hillsborough, FL), and Alyce Williams (Palm Coast, FL). Returning to the relays will be Dana Massiah (Trinidad and Tobago), who red-shirted last year but was a part of the relays for two years before that.
“For the 200m you’re looking at Alyce Williams, who is one of our best sprinters,” Braman said. “We’ll also drop down Dana Massiah and Kandia Batchelor. All of the 400m ladies will be able to run several relays as well as drop down to run the 200m.”
“We’re very deep in the 400m and 4x400m so hopefully we’ll score a lot of points there,” Braman said.
The only true 800m threat for Florida State is senior India Pettus who made the finals and scored last year in the 800m at the conference level. A few of the distance runners, like senior Barbara Parker (Norfolk, England) and freshman Susan Kuijken (Nijmejor, Netherlands), may also run the 800m and the relays.
Distance & DMR
Susan Kuijken, who anchored the national qualifying and school record holding distance medley relay last year, will once again perform that role along with running the 3K. Abi Wilshire (Saltford, England), who scored sixth place last year at ACC’s, Laura Bowerman (Temple Terrace, FL), the 2005 ACC Outdoor Freshman of the Year, and Barbara Parker, an ACC champion, will also return this year to grab points in the distance events. New additions, Amy and Debbie Huss (Wyomissing, PA), will run the 3k and alongside Bowerman in the 5k. Last season’s ACC Outdoor Freshman of the Year Lydia Willemse (Forest, Ontario) will also run the 3k and 5k giving Florida State a lot of longer distances.
“From a running standpoint we’re pretty solid,” Braman said. “But obviously we’re better outdoors. This year we adding the New Balance Collegiate Invitational which gives us one more quality meet that we haven’t had in previous indoor seasons.”
Orlando native Charlene Walker, a junior on the team, is the veteran in the jumps who has scored several times in the long jump with a collegiate best of 19’4.75″.
“I presume Alyce will do some long jumping,” Braman said. “But we don’t want to danger the fact that she’s a two-time All-American in the triple jump and honestly our best horizontal jumper.”
Alyce provisionally qualified in the triple jump at the UF Intercollegiate meet with her 41’8.5″ jump.
The addition of freshman Tiara Swanagan (Orange Park, FL), a three-time Florida state champion in the triple jump, makes the jumps a strong event for the Seminoles this year.
“Tiara probably could do a good job in the long jump, but she’ll focus more on the high and triple jumps,” Braman said. “She gives us a real threat in the high jump that we haven’t had in a long time. The jumps will be a strong area for us.”
Also competing in the jumps this year will be junior Heather Leblanc (Live Oak, FL) who is a multi-event student-athlete. LeBlanc competed in the long jump at the UF Intercollegiate meet in early January.
Without Sarah Reed for the indoor season, the three newcomers have to step in to score points in the shot put and weight throw. The freshmen throwers are Caila Coleman (Tallahassee, FL), Allyn Laughlin (Ambridge, PA), and Chalencia Seay (Polk County, FL).
Chalencia Seay surprised her coaches when she threw a personal best 54’1.25″ in the weight throw at the UF Intercollegiate meet on January 13. Allyn Laughlin also comes in as a force for FSU in the shot put and is expected to be a conference scorer right away.
“Hopefully Allyn will contend for her chance to be in the mix to go to nationals,” Braman said. “She’s probably more of an outdoor athlete as well but with Sarah not being with us for the indoor season means Allyn, Chalencia and Caila are going to be key.”