TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – More than two dozen Florida State track & field athletes will have their season extended as the NCAA released the list of accepted entries to next week’s East and West Preliminary meets, which are essentially the opening rounds of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
At least 16 women and one relay team from last week’s ACC Championships squad will compete at three-day meet – May 26-28 – at UNF’s Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla. They will be joined by 11 Seminole men, who have also qualified a relay team following last week’s share of fourth place at the ACC Championships.
Both squads carry some positive mojo into the NCAA East Preliminary as they each entered the USTFCCA’s National Rankings this week at No. 21. Those rankings come from a computer model which simulates the scoring potential of each program at the national championship level.
It marks the first time both the Seminole women and men have been ranked simultaneously this season.
“It is good for our programs to be back top 20ish coming out of ACC’s,” Florida State head coach Bob Braman said. “Honestly, we can do better than that on both sides. The women have more opportunities, seemingly.”
The NCAA Preliminary field selections are based on a national database, which ranks the season-long top performances in each of 21 track & field events. The top 48 athletes in each individual event and the top 24 relay teams qualify – after coaches have made declarations and scratches – with the top 12 in each event advancing to the NCAA Championships, June 8-11 at the University of Oregon.
Of the 16 women who are already qualified, five are ranked among the top eight in their respective NCAA East events, led by top-seeded junior discus thrower Kellion Knibb. Three other senior women women – Meme Jean (100 hurdles), Katja Vangsnes (hammer) and Der’Renae Freeman (long jump) – are seeded seventh, while sophomore Jogaile Petrokaite is the No. 8 seed in the long jump.
In addition to those high seeds who project to advance, junior heptathletes Melissa-Maree Farrington and Grete Sadeiko, who finished 1-2 at the ACC Championships, have already qualified for the NCAA Championships in the multi-event.
“On the women’s side, you feel like you’ve got some seasoned folks in there, with two long jumpers, two heptathletes and Kellion in the discus,” Braman said. “We’ve got some pieces who are potential scorers.”
Among the other high seeds who figure to challenge for an NCAA Championships appearance are Bridget Blake (No. 13, steeplechase), Nicole Setterington (No. 14, 100 hurdles) and No. 16 seeds Shaquania Dorsett (400), Georgia Peel (1500) and Peta-Gay Williams (100 hurdles).
The group of women could also grow by one after medical disqualifications are posted on Sunday as senior Christine Griggs is seeded No. 49 in the 10,000 meters.
Doctoral student Stefan Brits leads the Seminole men as the No. 1 seed – both in the East and nationally – in the long jump, after setting the ACC Championships record with the No. 6 mark in the world last weekend.
“You’re not going to find a more deserving guy,” Braman said of Brits, whose Olympic qualifying standard performance has been one of the highlights for the Noles this season. “This is a guy who has gone through two or three surgeries and his hamstring [injury], which he still has to keep right, is a result of him running the 4×1 at the national meet when he pulls up three years ago.
“This is a guy that has done it all for the team. He came here just to jump, we needed him on that relay team and he jumped in…He’s been the consummate team guy for him to get his just desserts at the end, that is certainly gratifying.”
Brits isn’t the Seminoles only projected NCAA Championship qualifier. Senior Zak Seddon is the No. 2 seed in the 3000-meter steeplechase, where he earned first-team All-American honors with an eighth-place finish last year. Freshman Armani Wallace turned his monster silver medal jump at the ACC Championships into the No. 6 seed in the triple jump, while fellow freshman Edward Clarke is the No. 8 seed in the 100 after also finished second at the ACC meet.
Clarke is also part of FSU’s 4×100 relay, which is seeded seventh overall.
The full field of Seminoles accepted for entry into the NCAA East Preliminary meet can be found here.
The meet begins Thursday, May 26 with field events beginning at 12 noon, followed by the first running event at 4:30 p.m. The complete meet schedule can be found here.