BOSTON, Mass. – With nearly half of its combined men’s and women’s teams competing in their first Atlantic Coast Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships, Florida State will open competition Thursday at the Reggie Lewis Center with a decidedly lower profile than usual.
That doesn’t mean the Seminoles won’t be well-represented when they embark on their 25th championship campaign as members of the ACC. Defending meet champions Jake Burton (800) and Kellion Knibb (shot put), past champion Der’Renae Freeman and perennial contender Stefan Brits – both long jumpers – and 2015 pentathlon runner-up Grete Sadeiko, bring plenty of firepower to the affair.
So do veterans Otniel Teixeira (800), Jogaile Petrokaite (long jump), Chelsea Jarvis (800), Nicole Setterington (60 hurdles), Georgia Peel and Bridget Blake (mile).
Still, how much team success the unranked Seminole men and women enjoy, will have a direct correlation to the scoring impact made by the newcomers. Of the 46 athletes entered, 22 – 12 men and 10 women – will be competing in their first ACC Indoor Championships. Among that number are 11 freshmen; 10 of whom had never competed indoors prior to the start of the season.
Several of those first-year Seminoles figure to make quite an impact. Freshman Darryl Haraway and grad student Meme Jean are the No. 2 seeds in the 60-meter dash and 60-meter hurdles, respectively.
Haraway is the fifth seed in the 200. Transfer Keniel Grant is seeded fourth in the long jump and freshman Edward Clarke has the seventh-fastest time in the 60.
On the women’s side, Sasha-Ann Lebert has the ACC’s fifth-best mark in the weight throw and Shauna Helps is the No. 6 seed in the 60.
In addition to chasing ACC titles and scoring performances, a number of Noles are trying to preserve or enhance their standing nationally, as the top 16 marks in all individual events (top 12 in relays) at the end of the weekend qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships in two weeks.
Two of those athletes – Sadeiko and junior transfer Melissa-Maree Farrington – will get the Seminoles started Thursday morning when the pentathlon gets underway with the 60-meter hurdles at 11 a.m. Sadeiko enters the meet ranked 18th nationally with a season-best total of 4,003 points. Farrington was also on pace for a 4,000-point debut earlier this season when she was knocked off the track in the 800; the fifth and final event of the pentathlon.
Lebert, in the midst of an outstanding season, is one breakthrough mark away from crashing the NCAA field in the weight throw. She enters the meet ranked 33rd nationally and will try and ride the emotion of a competitive field – three of the nation’s top eight throwers are in the ACC – to an NCAA standard.
Up until last weekend, the FSU women’s distance medley relay team of Georgia Peel, Shaquania Dorsett, Chelsea Jarvis and Bridget Blake, were ranked among the top 12 teams nationally. They got there with a season-opening performance more than a month ago. That quartet now ranks 18th nationally – and fourth in the ACC – and will hunt a breakthrough while competing against Clemson, Notre Dame and Duke, who are ranked fourth, fifth and 10th, nationally.
Freshman heptathlete Dante Newberg will make his ACC debut Thursday, when the first four of his seven events are contested. The Seminole men’s distance medley relay will also compete in the final event of the night.
You can follow the action via Twitter @FSU_Track, or by monitoring live results at http://noles.co/1UlZNnJ throughout the competition. A live stream of the competition will be provided via ESPN3 on Friday from 5-8 p.m. and Saturday from 1-4 p.m.
Check back for a daily recap throughout the competition at Seminoles.com.