JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – You can’t get to the NCAA Track & Field Championships without earning a spot in the field, which makes the three-day, NCAA East Preliminary meet the most important competition of the season.
The seventh-ranked Florida State women and 19th-ranked men will be well-represented when competition begins Thursday at Hodges Stadium on the University of North Florida campus.
With 23 entries, the Noles ladies boast their largest qualifying contingent since the NCAA went to the East-West preliminary qualifying format in 2010. FSU’s men arrived with 18 qualifiers, pushing the Noles’ total count to 41 – second-most in program history – vying for top-12 finishes in each event and a trip to Austin, Texas for the June 5-8 NCAA Championships.
“This is our largest women’s group ever to the first round,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “That’s exciting but, we have to perform well this weekend if we want to be in a position for a top-five 5 national finish. Our projected national scorers definitely need to take care of business but it would certainly help if we can get a big group to Nationals as well.
“Our men have some potential big-point national scorers, but not nearly the numbers as the ladies. Those stars need to be on their game this weekend.”
Competition for the Noles begins Thursday at 12 noon with senior Brandon Tirado, the No. 20 seed, competing in the hammer and fourth-seeded Lauri Paredes, the 2018 NCAA bronze medalist, opening up in the javelin.
In all, 10 Noles will have an opportunity to secure NCAA Championship berths on the opening day of competition, including:
• Hammer throwers Veronika Kanuchova and Nadia Maffo, who enter the meet as the No. 4 and No. 12 seeds;
• Women’s long jumpers Rougui Sow and Jogaile Petrokaite, who are seeded sixth and eighth, respectively, and;
• Women’s 10,000-meter standouts Militsa Mircheva and Elizabeth Funderburk, who are seeded second and 12th in the field of 48 for the 9 p.m. race which brings the opening day of competition to a close for the Noles.
In between those events are opening rounds of the 1500-meter run, 100-meter dash and 400-meter dash, featuring Seminole standouts Maudie Skyring, Ka’Tia Seymour and Andre Ewers, all of whom are projected qualifiers for the NCAA Championships as top-12 seeds. They first must navigate the cut-down rounds as the fields are pared from 48 to 24 quarterfinalists.
Both teams have balanced representation, with the women boasting qualifiers in sprints/hurdles, middle distance, distance, throws and jumps. In all FSU qualified women in 14 of the 20 events contested, while the men have representatives in 12 of 20 events.
FSU juniors Cortney Jones (100 hurdles) and Shanice Love (discus) are the top seeds in their events, while senior Armani Wallace – an East Preliminary triple jump qualifier for the fourth consecutive year – is the No. 2 seed; tops among all FSU men.
“You can’t accomplish your team’s season goals this weekend, but you can see them diminished if you’re not at your very best,” Braman said.
The meet will be streamed live by FloTrack, which requires a subscription, with Thursday’s broadcast beginning at 3:30 p.m. https://noles.co/2VzGn2y
Live results can be accessed at https://noles.co/2EhZ31b
Follow all of the action throughout the meet via Twitter @FSU_Track and Instagram @fsu_track.
A recap will be posted nightly at Seminoles.com and an in-depth look at the Noles at the NCAA East Preliminary is available here https://noles.co/2HOL6bH