TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With IAAF World Outdoor Championship bids on the line, Armani Wallace, Trey Cunningham and Isaac Grimes will don their Florida State track & field uniforms this weekend in the 2019 Toyota USATF Championships at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa.
Wallace, the top American collegiate triple jumper in 2019, will lead off the action Friday at 6:30 p.m. (ET). The No. 7 seed in the field on the strength of his FSU-record leap of 16.99 meters (55-9), good for third at the June NCAA Outdoor Championships, Wallace will measure himself against the world’s finest competition.
The field includes the top three – and four of the top five – triple jumpers in the world this year.
“Going against this field, it’s everything I’ve been training for,” said Wallace, who wrapped up his collegiate career last month. “Every meet has been a build-up to this meet right here. This is the most important meet of my life.
“I feel ready to go out that and jump far and go with them. I feel like it’s definitely possible.”
Wallace, the silver medalist at the NACAC Championships two weeks ago in Mexico, is making his first appearance at the USATF Championships since he “got his feet wet” in a 12th-place finish at the 2017 meet in Sacramento, Calif.
Cunningham, whose sophomore season was interrupted by injury and ended prematurely at the NCAA East Preliminary meet, takes the stage in Saturday’s first round of the 110-meter hurdles (3:23 p.m.).
Like Wallace, Cunningham will be tackling a loaded field in pursuit of a trip to Doha, Qatar. Grant Holloway and Daniel Roberts, who finished 1-2 at the NCAA Championships, occupy the top two spots in the world rankings.
It will be his first taste of action since May 25, when the three-time All-American hurdler finished 15th at the East preliminary; smashing the eighth and 10th hurdles in the semifinal to spoil a blazing start.
“I feel as great as I’ve ever felt in my life,” said the Winfield, Ala. native, who ran a personal-best of 13.47 on April 20 before suffering a hamstring injury. “I have been running well in practice, with no pain. I’m hitting times in practice that are ridiculous. I’m just ready to run because I haven’t run in a while.”
Cunningham, who placed fifth at the 2018 USATF Championships, won’t be blindsided by the level of competition. He enters the meet as the No. 8 seed.
“It’s a track meet like any other track meet, but there’s a level of intensity at which it comes at you because the people I’m competing against aren’t just on the college team anymore,” he said. “They’re running for their livelihood and to put food on the table.
“That’s the level I have to compete at and the competition should bring great times along with it.”
Forced to miss the ACC Outdoor Championships with an injury before coming up short of qualifying for his fourth NCAA Championships at the East Preliminary disappointment, Cunningham said he has a greater appreciation for the opportunities in front of him.
“For sure, because I got the chance to go to [the NCAA Championships] Austin and I was on the sidelines instead of running,” he said. “I was thinking, ‘What if I was in that race. How fast would I have run?’ It put it all into perspective. You’ve just got to put it together on that day. It doesn’t matter if you’re healthy or not healthy. Whoever does it gets to go.”
The 110-meter hurdle semifinals and finals are scheduled for Sunday.
Grimes will be pulling on an FSU singlet for the first time since transferring from Chadron State, where he was the NCAA Division II indoor long jump champion and the runner-up outdoors for the Nebraska school.
Seeded 14th in the field, the California native owns an outdoor personal-best of 7.89 meters (26-1) but soared to an all-conditions best 8.08 meters (26-6.25) at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Championships. He will be competing alongside former Seminole standout and Crawfordville native Corion Knight, who is seeded 15th in the long jump (7.93 meters).
The long jump will be contested Sunday at 7 p.m.
There are a number of other athletes with FSU ties competing over the course of the three day meet with an eye toward the Sept. 27-Oct. 6 IAAF World Championships. Most prominent among them is Colleen Quigley, who will represent the Bowerman Track Club in the women’s 3000-meter steeplechase.
Quigley, a 2016 Olympian, will begin her quest for a third consecutive trip to the World Championship meet Friday (5:57 p.m.) in the second of two preliminary sections. The finals are scheduled for Sunday at 7:09 p.m.
The USATF Championships, which begin Thursday, will be broadcast on the NBC Network.