TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A fast start – literally and figuratively – to the indoor track & field season has helped the Florida State men’s team maintain its No. 1 standing in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Rating Index.
The Seminole men, No. 1 in the preseason Rating Index, actually increased their lead over No. 2 LSU from the preseason rankings. Monday’s USTFCCCA release accounts for both the performances turned in thus far in the 2020 season, but also takes into account past performances.
“We’ve had a really great start to the season and it’s helped us overcome injuries to a few of our top returners,” said FSU coach Bob Braman, who is in his 17th year at the helm of the men’s and women’s teams. “Caleb [Parker] and Isaac [Grimes] have exploded onto the national scene and that’s been big in our remaining No. 1.”
The Florida State women dipped one spot from their preseason ranking and check in at No. 12.
Both programs will be competing across three meets this weekend, with the men’s and women’s sprinters and jumpers heading to Lubbock, Texas, where they will face loaded fields at the Texas Tech Invitational. The men’s distance group will travel to Bloomington, Ind. for the Indiana University Relays, while five pole vaulters – three women and two men – will compete at Sunday’s Jaguar Invitational in Birmingham, Ala.
Through two meets the Noles men are well-represented across a wide range of events on the national descending order list. Leading the way is junior Trey Cunningham, who ranks No. 1 nationally – and in the world – in the 60-meter hurdles. The Bowerman Award candidate is one of our Noles ranked within the top 16 nationally, which is significant because only the top 16 athletes – based on times on distances – qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships in each individual event.
Parker, a senior transfer from Southern Miss, is No. 2 nationally and followed by Braxton Canady, who is tied for sixth. Canady is a senior transfer from Oregon. Junior Tyricke Highman is tied for 12th in the 60-meter hurdles.
Parker is also tied for ninth nationally in the high jump.
Grimes, a junior transfer from Chadron (Neb.) State, owns the No. 2 long jump mark nationally and is one of four Noles in the top 16 in that event. He is joined by senior transfer Fabian Edoki (No. 7). Freshman Jeremiah Davis and junior transfer Darius Clark are tied for 15th nationally.
Freshman sprinter Taylor Banks is tied for 12th nationally in the 60-meter dash, while the men’s distance medley relay currently holds the top spot nationally.
Only the top 12 relay teams in the distance medley and 4×400 advance to the championship meet.
“It’ll be a dog-fight with LSU all the way to the National Championship and I hope we’re at our best when that occurs,” Braman said.
FSU’s women are led by the junior sprint duo of Jayla Kirkland and Ka’Tia Seymour, who are tied for third and eighth, respectively, in the 60-meter dash national rankings. Junior Maudie Skyring ranks seventh in the mile run and is a member of the distance medley relay which currently owns the No. 5 mark nationally.
The women’s 4×400 relay currently owns the No. 5 mark nationally.
“The women look like they’ll be a Top-10 team at season’s end and they continue to move toward that goal,” Braman said.
Both teams could improve their list of potential qualifiers, or current standings, over the weekend.
Kasey Knevelbaard, who anchored FSU’s distance medley relay to victory last week with a 3:58 1600-meter leg, will compete in the full mile this weekend at Indiana. Knevelbaard is hunting his third consecutive trip to the NCAA Indoor Championships in the mile – he was fifth in 2018 – and owns a personal-best of 3:58.54.
Kirkland and Seymour will compete in the 200-meter dash for the first time this weekend at the Texas Tech Invitational. Kirkland is a two-time NCAA Indoor qualifier in that event, while Seymour finished sixth at the 2018 championship meet.
Among other Noles hunting national marks, Janae Caldwell and Karimah Davis will compete in the 400 at Texas Tech, where triple jumper Trentorria Green will also be eyeing an improvement on her current No. 26 standing.