TALLAHASSEE – Strong performances in the opening meet of the indoor track & field season paved the way for the nationally-ranked Florida State men and women to land three of four ACC Performer of the Week honors on Wednesday.
The top-ranked men secured four victories at Saturday’s Orange & Purple Elite meet at Clemson, including honorees Trey Cunningham in the 60-meter hurdles and Isaac Grimes in the long jump. Jayla Kirkland posted the lone victory for the 11th-ranked women in the 60-meter dash.
Cunningham posted the nation’s fastest time on his way to ACC Men’s Track Performer of the Week honors, while Grimes, the ACC Men’s Field Performer of the Week, set the facility record and now owns the No. 2 mark nationally. Kirkland also took down the facility record and ranks No. 2 nationally.
“If you look at those three collectively, those are marks that could win Performer of the Week in the ACC in the championship season,” Florida State coach Bo Braman said. “Those are really historically good marks. We’re over the moon with how we kicked this season off. You’re talking about two facility records and a guy that’s No. 1 in the country.
“To come out of the blocks like this is fantastic. These January 11 Athlete of the Week honors could be March 13 Athlete of the Week from the NCAA Championships.”
One of 10 men selected to The Bowerman Preseason Watch List, Cunningham launched his junior season with a nation-leading time of 7.61. It was the fastest season-opening mark of the Winfield, Ala. native’s career and led a 1-2-5 finish by the Noles in the event. He also anchored the 4×400 relay to an ACC-leading time of 3:12.56 with a lineup including a pair of freshmen.
Grimes, a junior transfer from NCAA Division II Chadron (Neb.) State, won the long jump with a leap of 7.91 meters (25-11.5). Though no stranger to success – Grimes was the 2019 NCAA Division II indoor long jump champion – it was the fifth-best long jump mark in FSU’s rich history of the event; quite a debut for the Moreno Valley, Calif. native. He shattered the previous facility mark of 7.82 meters, shared by Florida’s KeAndre Bates and O’Brien Waisome of Texas.
Kirkland was dominant in the 60-meter dash final, running away from a field which included World Athletics U18 100-meter gold medalist Briana Williams. The Noles junior from Birmingham, Ala. ran 7.17 in the final, lowering her previous best of 7.24 and climbing from fourth to second on FSU’s all-time list. She took down the facility record held since 2013 by 17-time All-American Dezerea Bryant.
Florida State returns to action Friday and Saturday at the Vanderbilt Invitational, where Grimes will lead a jumps group into the competition, which will include the debut of transfer and 2019 All-American Fabian Edoki.
The Noles’ decorated women’s distance group will kick off the season, as will the throws group.