January 6, 2022 - by

FSU Track and Field/Cross Country Signs 12 to Upcoming Class

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State track and field and cross country program has signed 12 athletes to the 2022 class Head Coach Bob Braman announced on Thursday morning.

“I’m really excited for this upcoming class,” Braman said. “This is one of our best women’s classes we’ve ever signed during the early period.  We have signed several athletes who are in the top tier of their events in the nation.”

Overall, the class boasts 16 All-America honors across the 12 athletes. The Seminoles signed six distance runners, four sprinters, a hurdler and a jumper. There are five transfers in the class and three athletes from the Netherlands.

Highlighting the class is jumper Kayla Pinkard and sprinter Kaniya Johsnon. Pinkard is currently the No. 1 triple jumper in the nation, and Johnson leads the nation in the 60m dash and the 200m dash.

On the men’s side, the class is led by a couple of junior college All-Americans in Denzell Feagin and Antoine Evans Jr. Feagin was the 2021 NJCAA Outdoor Track and Field National Champion in the 200m dash and finished second in the 100m dash while also helping the Barton Community College 4x100m relay team to a second-place finish. Evans Jr. finished third in the 200m dash at national meet and helped his Coffeyville Community College 4x100m relay team to a national championship.

Men

Antoine Evans Jr. (Sprints) – Delray Beach, Fla. – Coffeyville Community College 

Evans Jr. earned two All-America honors for Coffeyville Community College in the short sprints. Evans Jr. finished third in the 200m dash (20.66) at the NJCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. He also helped the 4x100m relay to a national championship performance with a time of 39.47. Evans Jr.’s best times came at the NJCAA Region VI Championships with a time of 10.23 in the 100m dash and 20.64 200m dash.

Evans Jr. is the son of Antoine Evans Sr. and Tameka Edgecombe. He has two siblings, Taniah and Jamarion Evans. He was named to the honor roll his freshman and senior years of high school. He plans to major in social science at FSU.

What They’re Saying: “AJ is a multiple time juco All-American, as well as a champion running the third leg for Cofffeyville’s National Champion 4×100 meter team. I feel as though somehow he’s still a diamond in the rough. He has untapped potential, and he’s already ran very well. His future is very bright. Also being from Delray Beach, FL, he continues our tradition of bringing in-state talent to Tallahassee. I am very excited for his future.” – Assistant Coach Ricky Argro

Denzell Feagin (Sprints) – Canal Winchester, Ohio Barton Community College 

Feagin enters the men’s sprints group after a phenomenal 2021 season at Barton Community College. Feagin was the NJCAA national champion in the 200m dash with a time of 20.53. Feagin also finished second in the 100m dash with a time of 10.11 and helped the 4x100m relay team to a second-place finish. In 2020, Feagin qualified for the 2020 NJCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in the 200m dash and was a member of the 4x400m relay team that finished third at the 2020 NJCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.

What They’re Saying: “Denzell is a phenomenal talent, and his resume proves that. The NJCAA runner-up in the 100 meters and NJCAA 200 meter national championship speak for themselves. Speaking with his junior college coaches during his recruitment, they all speak of his work ethic. I can’t wait to coach him. He is going to be a pillar now as well as the future in the sprints for FSU.” – Assistant Coach Ricky Argro

Andrew Hammel (Distance) – Clyde, N.C. – Furman

Hammel comes to Tallahassee after a short stint at Furman. Hammel was one of the top runners in the Southern Conference in the outdoor track season. Hammel ran a personal best time of 30:36.21 in the 10,000m run to finish second at the Southern Conference Outdoor Championships last May. Hammel competed at the FSU Open in September and ran a personal best time of 24:51.1 in the 8k race. Hammel attended Christ High School where he was a cross country state champion in 2019.  

Hammel is the son of Steve and Lori Hammel and has two siblings, Katelyn and Matthew. He was named to the Headmaster’s Honor Roll at Christ High School. He will be majoring in exploratory at FSU. 

What They’re Saying: “We are excited that Andrew is a Seminole. He’s a tough runner and will be a great addition for our group. He has great experience at Furman and separated himself as one of the top runners in the Southern Conference.” – Head Coach Bob Braman

Andy Martinez (Distance) –  Melbourne, Fla.  – Daytona State College

A two-time JUCO cross country All-American, Martinez is another key piece to the men’s distance crew for the Noles. A product of Daytona State College, Martinez finished fifth at the NJCAA Division II Cross Country Championships last November. His top time in the 8k came at the FSU XC Invite/Pre-National meet where he ran a 24:59.5. In three seasons, Martinez has posted nine top 10 finishes and two victories. 

Martinez attended Viera High School in Melbourne, Fla., and was teammates with FSU signee Michael Toppi. He was a conference champion in the 1600m run and finished 13th at the 2019 Florida State Cross Country Championships. 

What They’re Saying: “Andy has some cross country chops, and he will be valuable to our squad right away. We are really excited to get him on campus.” – Head Coach Bob Braman.

Michael Toppi (Distance) – Melbourne, Fla. – Viera High School 

Toppi is staying in the Sunshine State and has put himself at the top of the Florida high school record books. Topp has the top time in Florida high school history in the 5000m run with a time of 14:41.45 at the Garmin RunningLane Cross Country Championships on Dec. 4. Toppi was one of 40 athletes to qualify for the Eastbay Cross Country Championships. He finished second in the FHSAA Cross Country State Championships at Apalachee Regional Park and helped Viera High School to their first cross country championship in school history. 

Toppi is the son of Michelle and Jon Toppi. He plans on majoring in criminology at FSU.

What They’re Saying: “We are really excited to bring Michael to Tallahassee. He was the top cross country runner in Florida this year, and he ran the fastest 5k in Florida high school history.” – Head Coach Bob Braman

Women

Suus Altorf (Middle Distance) – Hillegom, Netherlands – Atheneum College Hageveld

Altorf was the final Dutch athlete to sign with the Noles and is a top ten 800m runner in the Netherlands. Altorf plans to run in the 800m and the 400m hurdles. Her top time in the 800m came at the Gouden Spike meet on June 12 where she finished fifth with a time of 2:05.99. Her time put her eighth among Dutch runners in the 800m.

Altorf is a native of Hillegom, Netherlands, where she attended Athenueum College Hageveld. She is the daughter of Nico Altorf and Irma Beentjes and has a twin brother Rens.

What They’re Saying: “Suus is well rounded. She’s a great student and outstanding on the track. Rarely have I run across an athlete with the range of ability that Suus has displayed. She’s ranked in the top 20 in the world for her age group (U18) in four different events.  We are very excited to have an athlete of her caliber choose FSU.” – Assistant Coach Matt Kane

Dajaz Defrand (Sprints) –  Lincoln, Neb. – Lincoln High School 

One of the most decorated high school track athletes in Nebraska history will be a key contributor to the Noles sprinters group. DeFrand is a five-time All-American and holds the Nebraska record in the 100m (11.73) and is fourth on the all-time state list in the 200m (24.34). She was named the 2020-21 Nebraska Athlete of the Year and was a state champion in the 100m dash and 200m dash while helping the Lincoln High School 4x100m relay team to a state championship. 

DeFrand plans to major in interior design upon her arrival at FSU. She is the daughter of Laquanda Ellison and Donald DeFrand. Her father played football for the University of Nebraska from (2003-06).

What They’re Saying: “Dajaz has great potential. Living in Nebraska, she hasn’t seen much competition, but she has shown the ability to rise to the level of competition having finished second in the 100m dash at the USATF Junior Olympics. In time, I believe she is going to develop into one of the best sprinters in the NCAA.” – Assistant Coach Matt Kane

Marit Griep (Distance) – Oosterhout, Netherlands – Sint-Oelbert Gymnasium

Griep was the second Dutch runner to sign with the Seminoles. Griep made a name for herself in the Dutch ranks winning titles in the Dutch U18 cross country, outdoor and indoor championships. She also took home the title in the 1500m run at the 2021 U18 Dutch Championships with a time of 4:39.54. Griep’s best time came at the Runnersworld competition in Utrecht, Netherlands, where she finished with a time of 4:27.07 in the 1500m to finish fifth. 

Marit is the daughter of Ernst Olaf and Yvonne Griep. She attended Sint-Oelbert Gymnasium and was a member of the Honours Program Gymnasia. 

What They’re Saying: “We are thrilled to have landed Marit. She is a true talent out of the Netherlands. Her times would put her in the top 10 in the US.” – Head Coach Bob Braman

Kaniya Johnson (Sprints) – Valdosta, Ga. – Lowndes High School

A Valdosta, Ga., native, Johnson will be another key contributor to Coach Kane’s recruiting class. Johnson currently leads the nation in the 60m dash (7.29) and the 200m dash (23.67). Johnson is a two-time All American and won the state championship in the 100m dash (11:66) in 2019 and again in 2021 (11:53) along with a title in the 200m dash (23:58). Johnson was awarded the 5A Track Athlete of the Year award in the state of South Carolina in 2019. 

Johnson is a member of the NJROTC and the AFJROTC and comes from a military family, as her mom, Shari, is an active member in the Air Force. Johnson has two siblings, Jaylen and Kaden, and is the daughter of Shari and Kanawha Johnson. Johnson plans to major in criminology and sociology. 

What They’re Saying: “Kaniya comes from a great family which stood out for us in the recruiting process. She felt like a Seminole from day one.  Kaniya is one of the top rated overall sprinters in the nation.  Already this year she is leading the nation in the 60m dash and the 200m dash. Her 60m time of 7.29 puts her in the top 20 all-time in the United States for high school athletes.” – Assistant Coach Matt Kane

Kayla Pinkard (Jumps) – Carrollton, Ga. – Carrollton High School 

The No. 1 triple jumper in the nation is coming to Tallahassee. Pinkard currently holds the best mark in the triple jump with a mark of 42-5.75 which she set at the Outdoor Nationals. She was undefeated in the 2021 season in the triple jump and has won 18 consecutive triple jump titles dating back to July 11, 2020. Pinkard is a three-time All-American and is a Georgia state champion in the triple jump. She also was the Nike National triple jump champion and the USATF triple jump champion. 

Pinkard is also impressive off the track, as she is a member of the Spanish Honors Society and the National Honors Society. She was a member of the Spanish club at her high school and also participated on the Carrollton High School gymnastics team. Kayla is the daughter of Kisha and Durell Pinkard. Her mom played basketball at Georgia College and her uncle, Kevin Dix, played football at Jacksonville State. 

What They’re Saying: “I’m excited to have Kayla join the Seminole jumps squad. Kayla is a hard worker on the track and most importantly in the classroom. With her work ethic and my experience as an athlete and a coach, I am confident that she will do very well here at FSU.” – Assistant Coach Leevan Sands

Bieke Schipperen (Distance) – Dussen, Netherlands – Dongemond College

Schipperen was the first of three Dutch distance runners to sign with the Seminoles. A Dussen, Netherlands, native, Schipperen had her top race at the Next Generation Athletics meet with a time of 4.27.68 in 1500m race. She had three top three performances at the Dutch U18 national championships. 

Schipperen is the daughter of Jacco Schipperen and Inge Verhagen and has one brother, Stan. Schipperen attended Dongemond College and plans to major in management at Florida State. 

What They’re Saying: “Bieke is a proven runner and will be a great addition to the distance crew. Her times would put her in the top 10 in the US, and we can’t wait to get her on campus.” – Head Coach Bob Braman

Jazmine Tilmon (Hurdles) – Chesapeake, Va. – University of South Carolina

Tilmon comes to Tallahassee after starting her career at South Carolina. Tilmon competed in nine meets over the course of two seasons for the Gamecocks. Her best performance came at the Clemson Opener in 2019 where she finished third with a personal best time of 8.39.

Tilmon is from Chesapeake, Va., and attended Western Branch High School. She is majoring in criminal and plans to graduate in 2023. She is the daughter of Tanya and Tony Tilmon and has one brother, Anthony Blakey. 

What They’re Saying: “Jazmine was one of the top high school hurdlers in the nation. We feel that she has the skills and the potential to compete for an ACC title in the 100m hurdles.” – Assistant Coach Matt Kane

 

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