TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State men’s track & field team made a huge move this week in the US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association computer rankings, climbing seven spots to No. 7 nationally in week No. 4.
The Seminoles’ return to the top 10 in the outdoor season for the first time since the final 2015 rankings – spanning the release of 25 weeks’ worth of rankings – is further validation, beyond their recent ACC Indoor title, of the programs’ return to national prominence.
This marks the first week the USTFCCCA rankings have tabulated only 2018 performances (except the 5,000, 10,000 and decathlon/heptathlon) for the computer rankings, which in theory should provide a truer picture of the national scene to date.
“It’s been a long time coming,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “It has taken a lot of work by our coaches to rebuild this thing and to be seventh-ranked nationally is really phenomenal. And there’s more to come. We haven’t fired all of our bullets, so to speak.”
FSU’s men received a significant bump this week when Armani Wallace put together the nation’s fourth-best triple jump (16.25 meters/53-3.75) in winning the title at the Bryan Clay Invitational. He is joined by NCAA shot put leader Austin Droogsma and sprinter Andre Ewers, who checks in at No. 3 in the 100-meter dash and No. 2 in the 200. Trey Cunningham, at No. 7 in the 110-meter hurdles, gives the Noles five athletes ranked in the top 10 nationally.
Only seven programs have more.
“What we’ve been preaching to the athletes is we can be a top-10 team and this is validation,” Braman said. “If the meet were today, that’s who we are.”
FSU’s women stayed at No. 20 for the second consecutive week and have not been lower than No. 19 all season.
“On the women’s side, we’ve kind of been locked into that 19-20 position the whole year,” Braman added. “A lot of that, as we found out indoors, is our most elite athletes come in two categories – sprints and hurdles, and throws. At least that’s how it sits right now. The missing progression we think is going to be those sprints as they compete this weekend, at the home meet and conference meet and do the crazy magic that those elite athletes do. That’s part of it, and the other two – Gleneve Grange and Lauri Paredes – are not at their season-best like many others.”
The Seminoles figure to benefit from the season 100-meter dash debuts of freshmen Ka’Tia Seymour and Jayla Kirkland at The National Relays this weekend in Fayetteville, Ark. Both Seymour and Kirkland qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships in the 60-meter dash. The Noles also figure to improve on their solid season-opening 4×100 relay if the team of Kirkland, Shauna Helps, Cortney Jones and Seymour gets to the starting line on Saturday.
Likewise, the Noles figure to benefit from breakout-ready efforts from Grange and Paredes at the 124th Penn Relays in Philadelphia. Grange, who was eighth in the discus at the 2017 NCAA Championships, has not competed in her specialty in a month. That is also the last meet Paredes competed in the javelin. Both athletes have spent the last month refining their form in training sessions.
With just two weeks of competition separating the Seminoles from the ACC Outdoor Championships at Miami, Braman said it’s time to shift the mindset to the most important time of the season.
“I think [the rankings] give us the confidence going into June, and now we need to switch our focus to this really important weekend coming up and how that gets us ready for the conference championship,” he noted. “We’re going to be head down, working hard, competing our heads off and trying to get better. All we’re going to be thinking about is the ACC Championship.”
There’s little doubt both teams have an opportunity to improve on their current standing, but that will be tied directly to how they perform this weekend, at the May 4 Seminole Invitational and ultimately the ACC Championships, May 10-12 in Coral Gables.
“The women have more movement opportunity than the men,” Braman said. “The men just need to continue to keep doing what they’re doing, and if they keep getting better they will stay in this spot and maybe even move up higher.”