TALLAHASSEE – The news continues to get better for the Florida State track & field teams this postseason.
Hours after learning that both the men’s and women’s teams had moved up in this week’s U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Ratings Index – to Nos. 8 and 20, respectively – the Noles learned that their travel party of competitors for the March 13-14 NCAA Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico had grown to nine.
With the rankings based on projected scoring at the NCAA Championship level, FSU coach Bob Braman said both teams are on track to meet their annual goals.
“I think all along the reasonable goal was top-10 and if we could have stayed healthy, the sky’s the limit; we could have had a chance to win,” Braman said of the men. “We’re still in a good position. We’re top-10 with a chance to get on the podium, which is top-four.
“On the women’s side a top-25 is always kind of the minimum [goal], and you hope you can be top-10. We could finish it off as a top-25, top-20 team.”
Fresh off the program’s 13th ACC Indoor Championship last week at Notre Dame, the men will send seven athletes to compete at the Albuquerque Convention Center, where they will be joined by two qualifying women.
Top-seeded Trey Cunningham is one of three qualifying Noles in the 60-meter hurdles, joined by Caleb Parker and Braxton Canady, who are the Nos. 4 and 10 seeds, respectively. They will be joined by the long jump duo of Isaac Grimes and Fabian Walker, and the 60-meter sprint tandem of Taylor Banks and Jhevaughn Matherson. Grimes and Edoki are the seventh and 11th seeds, while Banks and Matherson are seeded 10th and 12th.
Junior Ka’Tia Seymour will make her third consecutive NCAA Indoor Championships appearance is the Noles’ lone two-event qualifier, making the field of 16 in the 60- and 200-meter dashes, which she swept at the ACC Championships, The first three-time championship track MVP in conference history is seeded third in the 60, matching her finish at last year’s NCAA meet, and sixth in the 200.
Maudie Skyring, who ranked 20th in the mile on the national descending order list entering the declaration process, moved all the way up to the No. 13 seed position after scratches were made.
Jayla Kirkland, whose season-best 60-meter dash time matched Seymour, was scratched from the meet due to injury. Redshirt freshman Elizabeth Funderburk ended up 17th on the declaration list, one position shy of qualifying in the 5,000-meter run.
FSU’s men had several near-misses as well. Matherson was 18th in the 200, DaeQwan Butler was 19th in the 400 and Kasey Knevelbaard was 20th in the mile. The men’s 4×400 relay finished 14th on the list of declarations, missing out on one of the top-12 qualifying spots by .20 seconds.
And that doesn’t take into account the injury absences of Kasaun James and Bryand Rincher, who combined for 13 points at the 2019 NCAA Indoor Championships, but sat out this season.
Now the Noles return to Albuquerque for the first time since the 2014 NCAA Indoor Championships, which also marked the last time the men finished on the podium, placing fourth. Dentarius Locke and James Harris won NCAA titles in the 60-meter dash and high jump, respectively, while Jonathan Reid placed third in the triple jump and the 4×400 relay was seventh for a 28-point total.
“When you go to a meet with stars at this level and you hit a couple of home runs, which stars are capable of, immediately you get into the mix to be a top-five team,” Braman said. “Last year we were sixth and what did we score, 24 points?”
The women placed 35th last year on Seymour’s third-place (six-point) finish in the 60.
Both teams have the firepower to eclipse those 2019 totals.
Unpacking the Noles’ ACC blowout victory
With a 96-point final day at the ACC Indoor Championships, Florida State’s men turned a one-point lead entering Saturday’s action at Notre Dame’s at the Loftus Sports Center into a 31-point title romp.
The Noles finished with 140 points, which is the highest point total for a champion – men or women – since conference expansion prior to the 2014 championship meet, as was the margin of victory. For context, the 2019 Noles scored 117 points to earn a share of the title with Virginia Tech. That was the previous high-point total for a champion in the ACC’s 14- or 15-team configuration.
Perhaps most surprisingly, the Noles accrued that total with just two event champions – Trey Cunningham (60-meter hurdles) and Fabian Edoki (long jump). They did so by piling up five second- and third-place finishes – more than any other team – and scored in 13 of 17 events
“That’s crazy…We covered all the areas,” Braman said. “We said back in August, ‘Wow, if this team gets rolling it’s a scary-good team.’ We have not seen the ceiling of this group. It could be crazy how good this group could be outdoors. But you know what, I’ll take the crazy numbers we put up indoors, because you can’t take a dang thing for granted. You never know when you’re in the game or out of the game due to injuries.”
The Noles were in the title chase game when they scored 32 points in Friday’s long jump, finish 1-2-3-4 and 6, and then went 1-2-3 and 7 in the 60-meter hurdles – the first event Saturday – for 26 points.
Those 58 points in two events would have been enough for FSU to place fifth overall.
The Noles’ depth, a staple in their 13 indoor titles, was on display over the three-day meet. Of the 26 Noles who competed, 20 scored and 19 of those earned either first- or second-team All-ACC honors. In all, FSU’s men compiled a whopping 21 All-ACC honors to lead all schools and both genders.
Men’s First-Team All-ACC
Trey Cunningham – 60-meter hurdles
Fabian Edoki – Long Jump
Isaac Grimes Long Jump
Caleb Parker – 60-meter hurdles
Sanjae Lawrence – Shot Put
Jhevaughn Matherson – 200-meter dash
DaeQwan Butler – 400-meter dash
Braxton Canady – 60-meter hurdles
Jeremiah Davis – Long Jump
Kasey Knevelbaard – Mile run
Jhevaughn Matherson – 60-meter dash
Milton Ingraham – Shot Put
Men’s Second-Team All-ACC
Darius Clark- Long Jump
Caleb Parker – High Jump
Austin Thompson – Pole Vault
Isaac Grimes – Triple Jump
4×400 Relay -Kyle Fearrington, Canady, Cameron Daniel, Butler
Dante Newberg – Heptathlon
Taylor Banks – 200-meter dash
Jacore Irving – Triple Jump
Bert Freire – 800-meter run
Women’s First-Team All-ACC
Ka’Tia Seymour – 60-meter dash
Ka’Tia Seymour – 200-meter dash
Maudie Skyring – Mile run
Trentorria Green – Triple Jump
Women’s Second-Team All-ACC
Jazmyn Dennis – Pole Vault
Nadia Maffo – Weight Throw