TALLAHASSEE – The Florida State women’s track & field team is heading to the NCAA Outdoor Championships with its highest ranking since the since the 2008 inception US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Track & Field Rating Index.
The Seminoles will arrive at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin, Texas for the June 5-8 championship meet at No. 3 nationally, with an opportunity to secure the program’s first podium finish (top four) since the 2009 team placed fourth in Fayetteville, Ark.
Florida State climbed four spots in the TFRI on the strength of a strong qualifying effort at the NCAA East Preliminary. The Noles advanced 11 qualifiers to the NCAA Championships from the three-day meet at the University of North Florida.
“We didn’t miss,” FSU coach Bob Braman said of the women’s performance. “On the guys’ side we missed two big scorers from last years’ team. Those were big gut shots. The only big scare was Veronika [Kanuchova] getting in on her third throw. The others performed really well.”
Florida State’s men tumbled nine spots to No. 28 in the TFRI and advance only four qualifiers to the NCAA Championships.
The Noles women received No. 1 qualifying performances from Lauri Paredes (javelin), Jogaile Petrokaite (long jump) and Shanice Love (discus), Jogaile Petrokaite (long jump). Cortney Jones qualified third in the 100-meter hurdles, as did Ka’Tia Seymour in the 100-meter dash. Seymour was fourth-fastest in the 200-meter dash.
The 4×100 relay qualified fourth, as did Militsa Mircheva (10,000 meters) and Rougui Sow (long jump). Kanuchova advanced from the No. 5 spot in the hammer. Jayla Kirkland qualified 11th in the 100.
“We have some really good qualifiers; people who have qualified well and their season-bests are good, so they didn’t back door in,” Braman said. “You’ve got some real veterans in that group, who you know are going to give you their best and perform well.
“Even our sprinters, who are sophomores, have been to Worlds, USAs and the top levels. They’re really seasoned veterans, as well as Cortney, who has been to the Worlds and done really well. Even Karimah [Davis] has been to New Balance Nationals and done well at the highest level.”
With such a strong qualifying presence the Noles women are positioned to become just the seventh team in program history to notch a top-five finish at the national championship meet. FSU won the 1984 NCAA Championship title, finished second in 1983 and 1985 and were third in 1982, and at the 1981 AIAW National Championship meet.
“The key is just to be good,” said Braman, emphasizing the importance of performing with consistency and not trying to hit home run efforts. “It’s a good group with a lot of opportunity. If we get a win or two somewhere…”
On the men’s side, Armani Wallace was the No. 1 qualifier from the NCAA East Preliminary in the triple jump and will be joined at the NCAA Championships by Andre Ewers (200-meter dash), Bryand Rincher (100-meter dash) and the 4×100 relay team.
Helps Candidate for Academic All-America Honors
Florida State senior sprinter Shauna Helps was been selected to the Google Cloud Academic All-District 4 Track & Field/Cross Country Team, presented by CoSIDA.
The Belvedere, Jamaica native, who graduated in exercise physiology with a 3.51 grade point average, is now eligible for Google Cloud Academic All-America honors.
The senior captain has enjoyed an outstanding career in the classroom and on the track, where she is a three-time All-American and a two-time ACC 100-meter dash champion and former record-holder. Helps ranks among the top-10 all-time at Florida State in five sprint events.
Helps will be competing at the NCAA Championships for the fourth time in her career as a member of the 4×100 relay team pool. She was seventh at the ACC Championships in the 200-meter dash – the eighth consecutive time she has scored at the conference meet – while providing key scoring contributions to the Noles’ third ACC team title over the course of her career.
She has persevered despite battling injuries which have significantly limited her competitive opportunities.
“Not only has Shauna always been that model student-athlete, she has done it the last two years with injuries,” Florida State coach Bob Braman said. “Kids, historically when they’re not competing and injured, there is an effect on their academics. She’s muscled up on her academics when other people go south.
“She’s had devastating injuries the last two championship seasons and just kept plowing away. That’s not just a comment on her and her work ethic, but she has done it as the classes have got harder.”
A six-time All-ACC Academic and three-time USTFCCCA All-Academic selection, Helps has excelled while completing a rigorous degree requirement.
“I’m super proud of her,” Braman said. “The way she carries herself, it’s not a, ‘Look at me’ kind of thing. You’d have to look up her grades to say, ‘Oh, my gosh.’ She is almost that forgotten academic performer because she’s always on the list. She never has a bad semester and has never had to climb out of hole. She’ll tell you, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m really struggling.’ Then the grade will post and she had a B-plus.”
Helps is in line to become the 31st Florida State track & field athlete – and the first women’s sprinter – to be selected to the Google Cloud Academic All-America team, when the team is announced on June 27.