TAMPA, Fla. – Finishing first or 12th makes no difference to the Florida State track & field athletes competing at the NCAA East Preliminary, Thursday-Saturday, at the University of South Florida.
As odd as it may seem, the No. 12 is magical. Place 12th or better in any of the 20 events which will be contested at the USF Track & Field Stadium and you will have secured a trip to the NCAA Championships, June 6-9 at Eugene, Oregon’s Historic Hayward Field.
“You start with 48 athletes per event instead of a typical meet of perhaps 16, and then you only give the field event athletes three attempts,” FSU coach Bob Braman said, outlining some of the peculiarities associated with the penultimate meet of the season. “Track athletes will have to tee it up with their best twice in most events.”
The Noles will have ample opportunity to tee it up against the best. The 12th-ranked Florida State men boast 20 qualifiers, while the women have 17 more, when the action begins Thursday with junior Brandon Tirado competing in the men’s hammer at 8:45 a.m.
FSU will have a busy opening day schedule, made perhaps more challenging by the uncertain weather. With a tropical system threatening to develop into “Alberto” coaches and athletes are bracing for likely impacts. NCAA meet officials adjusted the three-day schedule Wednesday afternoon in an effort to mitigate the potential impact of inclement weather in the Tampa area throughout the meet.
“You add in almost certain delays from one of our earliest tropical disturbances in state history to the competition and only the mentally tough and physically resilient will make it to Nationals,” Braman said.
“As coaches, we have to calm their minds and limit the chaos during this process. If we can do that we’ll have two good relays and perhaps 8-10 athletes per gender leaving Tampa with tickets to Eugene.”
Some of the highest-seeded Noles are in action on opening day, and 10 of those 17 competitors can secure their spots at the NCAA Championships. In addition to the men’s hammer, a talented trio of long jumpers, led by ACC champ and No. 4 seed Corion Knight, will be in action. So too will Lauri Paredes, the freshman and school record-holder in the javelin who won FSU’s first ACC title in the event and enters the East Prelims as the No. 6 seed. Women’s shot putters Gleneve Grange and Ieva Zarankaite are two of the top 10 seeds and expect to advance.
The only opening day NCAA berths available on the track are the men’s and women’s 10,000, where the Noles will feature a trio of competitors. Freshman Steven Cross and grad student Stanley Linton will tackle the men’s 25-lap race at 9 p.m., followed by junior MIlitsa Mircheva in the women’s race at 9:40. Those races were the only events which will be contested as initially scheduled.
Between those events which will be narrowed to 12, the Noles will face first-round qualifying opportunities in the women’s 1500-meter run (Maudie Skyring), the men’s and women’s 100-meter dash, led by ACC champions Andre Ewers and Ka’Tia Seymour, and the men’s 400-meter dash (Kyle Fearrington).
“The first round is always unpredictable and the weather will certainly add to that,” Braman said. “It will be like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disney, so we better be at our absolute best if we want to get to Eugene with a formidable squad.”
You can follow the Noles via Twitter @FSU_Track, or through live stats at:
Flotrack will offer a live stream to subscribers throughout the three-day meet, which can be accessed here: http://live.flotrack.org/#/event/6035-2018-di-ncaa-east-preliminary-round