TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – What do you get when you bring back a track & field legend for a special recognition while your teams square off at home against their powerhouse arch-rival in a seven-team meet?
Friday’s start of the FSU Relays at Mike Long Track.
The annual event, now in its fifth decade, has long been considered one of the finer meets in the southeast, and this year’s event will not take a back seat. The Seminoles will host nationally-ranked Florida and Auburn, as well as Dartmouth, Georgia Tech, Liberty and Southern Miss in the day-long men’s and women’s competition, set to begin with the hammer at 9 a.m., a pick up steam at 12 p.m. with more field events before the on-track action begins at 1:30 p.m.
Competing NCAA champions and Olympians will not outshine the nights’ special honoree.
Florida State’s Walter Dix, who won eight NCAA titles, was an 18-time first-team All-American and led the Noles to the 2006 and 2008 NCAA team titles, will have his jersey retired in a ceremony set for 6:55 p.m. Friday. Owner of the NCAA 200-meter dash record and a pair of bronze medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Dix is the first FSU men’s track & field athlete to have his jersey retired.
“He was the centerpiece of those national championship teams, went on to double-Olympic bronze and is the collegiate record-holder to this day in the 200 meters,” said FSU coach Bob Braman, who was at the helm for Dix’s impeccable career. “He’s as special as any male athlete that we’ve ever had come through our program.
“It’s appropriate that he’s the man who launches the new tradition of retiring jerseys here at Florida State.”
Dix, a Coral Springs, Fla. native, will be on hand to accept his retired singlet, accompanied by his family.
Florida State will also recognize Kim Batten as the first women’s track & field athlete whose jersey will be retired. A lightly-recruited, multi-event standout from Rochester, N.Y., who also earned high school All-American honors in basketball, Batten went on to one of the most illustrious careers in Seminole history.
An eight-time, first-team All-American covering four events, she found her niche in the 400-meter hurdles. She was the 1996 Olympic silver medalist in Atlanta after setting the World Record at the 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden. Batten won an ESPY in 1996 as the top Women’s Track & Field athlete, upstaging stars Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Gwen Torrence for the honor. Twice she ranked No. 1 in the World and in 2012 Batten was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame.
“She was very talented, obviously, but she was also very coachable and had a very, very good work ethic,” said retired FSU coach Terry Long. “She was extremely knowledgeable about the race and how to approach the competition.
“She had the charming personality, the great smile, the ability to interact with people at all levels…She could handle the big stage. It’s the mental approach that often sets the great ones apart. Meet time was showtime. She took it very, very seriously.”
Long will be on hand to represent his star pupil, who is unable to attend while working on her Master’s degree in Social Work from USC. Batten will be recognized in person at a later date as well.
Following the recognition of Dix and Batten, Friday’s college action will conclude with the 4×400 relays. The signature high school Invitational 3200-meter run, set for 7:45 p.m. – one of three prep events contested on the opening day – will set up a full day of high school racing on Saturday.
You can follow the action throughout the two-day FSU Relays via Twitter @FSU_Track, and through the live results link https://results.flotrack.org/?mid=1375.
Saturday’s action will also be streamed live on MileSplit beginning at 7:30 a.m. http://bit.ly/2CU9rZ6