AUSTIN, Texas – The four-day NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships begins Wednesday at Mike A. Myers Stadium, and while much of the lead-up attention has been on the third-ranked Florida State women, the Seminole men will lead things off.
Three of the 28th-ranked men’s four entries will be in action on the opening day, each with an opportunity to get into scoring position by qualifying for Friday’s finals.
With the forecast calling for inclement weather, the NCAA has already revised the schedule twice, with the possibility of a third revision coming. Regardless, the Noles’ 4×100 relay team of Bryand Rincher, Jhevaughn Matherson, Michael Timpson Jr. and Andre Ewers will lead things off at 5:02 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2.
Qualifying second-fastest from the East Preliminary meet, the Noles own the seventh-fastest time in the field of 24 at 39.04. Two members of that team – Rincher and Ewers – will have opportunities to reach the finals in the 100 and 200, respectively.
Rincher, a true freshman, has run 10.21 and doesn’t project to qualify for the final. Of course, he wasn’t projected to qualify for the finals of the 60-meter dash at the NCAA Indoor Championships, where he finished fifth to earn All-American honors and lock up ACC Indoor Freshman of the Year honors.
Ewers, a senior, was the runner-up in the 200-meter dash at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Championships. He qualified fourth-fastest from the East Preliminary meet in a personal-best time of 20.14. Furthermore, he is driven to finish his Noles career on a high note after coming up four-thousandths of a second shy of qualifying in the 100, where he was third a year ago.
“Then men, they’re all good,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “You can make a good case that the relay has a chance to win. You can make a really good case that Andre has a chance to win. You can make a good case that Armani [Wallace] has a chance to win. Even if none of those happen, and they come in the top four, then you’re probably in the top 20 or close.”
Wallace, the No. 2 seed nationally in the triple jump as the top qualifier from the East Preliminary, will have to wait until Friday for his turn to improve on his fourth-place NCAA Indoor Championships finish.
With strong qualifying efforts Wednesday and a scoring performance from Wallace on Friday, it’s not inconceivable that the Noles could well out-perform their No. 28 ranking, which is based on projected points scored at the NCAA Championships.
“The guys are off the radar and they can just go in there and do their job and maybe pick up a top-15 finish,” Braman said. “Who knows? if you have a couple of winners you can be top-10.”
The inclement weather projected for Wednesday is supposed to be cleared out of the area by the time the Noles women – boasting a program-best 11 qualifiers – get going on Thursday.
Ten of the 11 qualifiers will be in action Thursday for the women, who are eyeing their first top-four – podium – finish since 2019 and have an opportunity to join the FSU teams from 1981-85, which won a title, finished second twice and third twice.
“We knew this was an outdoor women’s team because of the long throws and the 4×100 [relay],” Braman said. “You’ve still got your great sprinters and hurdlers. You’ve got Militsa Mircheva, who didn’t even make the indoor meet, and the 10k suits her better. She’s kind of in that formula – 10k, 4×100 and three throwers – that screams outdoors.”
FSU’s women appear to be peaking at the right time. Coming off a record-setting romp to the ACC team title, they qualified well out of the NCAA East Preliminary.
Lauri Paredes (javelin), Jogaile Petrokaite (long jump) and Shanice Love (discus) were the top qualifiers in the East in their respective events. Paredes, who was third at the championships a year ago, and Petrokaite will compete in Thursday’s finals. They will be joined by two-time NCAA long jump scorer Rougui Sow, 2017 fifth-place finisher Veronika Kanuchova in the hammer and Mircheva, who owns the nation’s seventh-fastest 10,000-meter time this season.
“The women are going to be in this grind,” Braman said. “We’ve got three field events on the first day and those are critical to our success. And then you have the 10k final. So we’re going to be kind of unusual where we’re going to have four of our one-shot finals and everything else is qualifying.
“There’s a lot of potential to put ourselves in a good spot. Maybe they’ll fly under the radar and post a big score.”
The qualifying is no less important. FSU’s 4×100 relay owns the seventh-best time nationally, while Cortney Jones, the 2018 bronze medalist, is ranked fifth overall in the 100-meter hurdles field. Then there’s Ka’Tia Seymour, who missed the 100-meter finals by one spot last year and placed fourth in the 200, and is looking to improve in both events. She will be joined in the 100 by classmate Jayla Kirkland.
Love, who ranks No. 3 nationally in the discus, will have to wait until Saturday to compete.
“Everybody but one of the women’s group is lacing it up [Thursday],” Brman noted. “No pun intended, but we’ve got to hit the ground running and we have to get after it the first day…
“It’s going to be fun. We’ll certainly have a good idea of our potential to fulfill that top-four trophy goal.”
You can follow the Noles through a variety of mediums throughout the meet, including Twitter @FSU_Track and Instagram @fsu_track. Live results can be monitored at https://dt8v5llb2dwhs.cloudfront.net/NCAA/index.htm