TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State men’s track & field team returned to the top 25 nationally for the first time in three seasons, checking in at No. 23 in the first U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) national team computer rankings of the regular season.
Buoyed by Andre Ewers’ nation-leading 60-meter dash and Trey Cunningham’s No. 6 mark in the 60-meter hurdles in weekend victories at the Larry Wieczorek Invitational, FSU climbed 13 positions from its preseason ranking. Only one team made a bigger move from the preseason rankings, as Texas A&M jumped 14 spots to No. 3.
The Seminoles’ return to the top 25 comes after a lengthy hiatus. FSU’s men were last among the top 25 in the fifth ranking period of the 2015 season. Dating to the USTFCCCA’s development of the computer rankings beginning with the 2008 preseason rankings, the Noles appeared in 58 consecutive rankings before slipping out of the top 25 late in the ’15 campaign.
“I’m real excited for our men,” said Florida State coach Bob Braman, now in his 15th season at the helm. “This has been a three-year rebuilding project and we’re starting to see the fruits of our labor.
“This is just the beginning for our guys. They have some really big goals for the season.”
FSU is sandwiched between two other newcomers to the top 25 – No. 22 Iowa and No. 24 Ohio State – as preseason No. 21 Rutgers, No. 23 Georgetown and No. 24 Michigan slid out of the rankings.
The Noles sit third among four ACC teams in the top 25, behind by No. 12 Virginia Tech and No. 21 Virginia, but ahead of No. 25 Syracuse.
Future rankings will be released by the USTFCCCA each Monday through March 5.
Freshmen pair are highest ranked nationally in respective events
FSU’s Trey Cunningham and Ka’Tia Seymour are the nation’s highest ranked freshmen in their respective events, based on the national descending order list this week, after making their season debuts at Iowa.
Cunningham ranks sixth nationally in the 60-meter hurdles after winning the Wieczorek title in 7.74 seconds, which is the fourth-fastest time in program history. The Winfield, Ala. native came into the season with high expectations after setting the World U20 record as a high school senior in 7.40 over 39-inch hurdles.
Seymour, from Palatka, Fla., sprinted her way into a share of the No. 9 spot in the 60-meter dash after placing third at the Wieczorek with a finals time of 7.31 seconds. Seymour’s time is fifth-fastest in Seminole history. Fellow frosh Jayla Kirkland checks in at No. 10 all-time among Noles (tied for 33rd nationally) after making her collegiate 60-meter debut in 7.40 in Saturday’s preliminary rounds.
Ewers puts nation on notice with record-setting debut
Junior college transfer Andre Ewers is easy to spot on the national descending order list over 60 meters. The former Piper High School star who arrived on campus in January is right at the top.
Ewers grabbed a share of Florida State school record when he ripped off a 6.52 victory in Saturday’s final at the Larry Wieczorek Invitational. With the second-fastest time in the world this season, the Jamaican native joined 2014 NCAA Indoor champion Dentarius Locke atop the FSU list.
Only 2017 NCAA Indoor champion Christian Coleman’s world record 6.37, set Friday at Clemson, is faster. Coleman’s previous lifetime-best of 6.45 came in the NCAA finals last year.
Noles back on the road this week at Arkansas
The Seminole men and women will compete against a strong field at the two-day Razorback Invitational, Friday and Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark.
National powers Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, Texas A&M, USC and Ole Miss highlight the 11 teams competing at Randal Tyson Track Center.
While a number of prominent Noles will take the weekend off from competition, FSU’s teams won’t be lacking star power. Junior Shauna Helps returns to action for the first time since Jan. 6 and will compete in both 60- and 200-meter dashes alongside freshman Ka’Tia Seymour. Peta-Gay Williams will go to work on lowering his season-opening 60-meter hurdle time (8.20), while Gleneve Grange has her sights set on a 17-meter shot put effort at the venue where she first broke the school record last year.
Dante Newberg, coming off two new event personal-bests at Iowa, will tackle his first heptathlon of the 2018 season. He will kick off the action Friday with every intention of laying waste to his personal-best of 5,186 points.
Shot putter Austin Droogsma will try and line up a mark that improves his current standing at No. 9 nationally, while a fleet of jumpers – led by Kenneth Fisher, Montel Nevers, Armani Wallace and Corion Knight – will also be deployed. Kyle Fearrington will also make his season debut at 400 meters for the men.
Both distance groups will send a full complement into action, with sophomore Steven Cross making his debut for the men in the 3000.