Women Open Outdoors At No. 10 Nationally
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Monday’s release of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Preseason Team Rankings merely confirms what Florida State track & field coach Bob Braman has long contested: The Seminoles are built for greater success in the open air, as opposed to the indoor circuit.
Behind a strong group of projected scorers in the field events at the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Championships, the Florida State women checked in at No. 10 in the initial poll.
It marks the fourth time in 10 years the Seminole women have opened with a preseason top 10 ranking, dating to the 2008 inception of the USTFCCCA’s rankings. The Seminoles were ninth in the 2015 preseason rankings, eighth in 2011 and fifth in 2010. FSU finished sixth at the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Championships and fourth in 2009, when they opened the year ranked 28th.
“It’s great for our ladies to be back in the top 10,” Braman said. “We have a really powerful lineup with a great mix of youth and experience. There’s no ceiling for this group.”
The National Team Computer Rankings are compiled by a mathematical formula based on the NCAA Division I Descending Order Lists. Marks from previous seasons are included until enough data can be drawn from the current season and current freshmen aren’t included in the rankings until they compete in an outdoor meet. The purpose and methodology of the rankings is to create an index that showcases the teams that have the best potential of achieving the top spots in the race for a national title. Ranking points don’t equate with points that will be scored at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
FSU’s strength clearly lies with its bevy of talent in the field events, where graduate student and 2016 NCAA runner-up Kellion Knibb and first-year Seminoles Veronika Kanuchova projected as the top-ranked athletes nationally in the discus and hammer, respectively, based on their 2016 marks.
Junior long jumper Jogaile Petrokaite (fifth) and senior heptathelete Melissa-Maree Farrington (seventh) also earned top 10 preseason rankings in their respective events, while senior 100-meter hurdler Nicole Setterington (11th) and redshirt junior steeplechaser Bridget Blake (20th) also contributed to FSU’s preseason scoring formula.
Not counted toward FSU’s preseason total are freshman high jumper and NCAA Indoor qualifier Eleonora Omoregie and a 4x100 relay team which figures to be significantly stronger than the quartet which qualified for the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
The Seminole women, who won the 2016 ACC Outdoor Championships, are the top-ranked team from the conference. Miami, which has won back-to-back ACC Indoor Championships, checks in at No. 16, followed by Virginia Tech at No. 20.
Defending national champion Oregon is the preseason favorite to repeat, followed by Kentucky, Arkansas and LSU; three of the 11 SEC schools ranked in the top 25. USC checks in at No. 5, followed by Florida, Georgia, Texas and Stanford one spot ahead of the Noles.
It’s worth noting that No. 15 Alabama and No. 24 Auburn are among the six-team field competing at the FSU Relays, which are set for all day Friday at Mike Long Track.
Florida State’s men settle in at No. 38 in the preseason rankings with the bulk of their points coming from graduate transfer Ed’Ricus Williams (fifth) in the high jump, sophomore Armani Wallace (eight) in the triple jump and Austin Droogsma (18th) in the shot put. The 4x100 relay team, which returns Edward Clarke, Darryl Haraway and Jamal Pitts from last year’s second-team All-American unit, is tied for 13th.
Not counted among the top 20 nationally for FSU’s point-producers are transfer Montel Nevers, who was eighth in the triple jump at the 2017 NCAA Indoor Championships. Emmanuel Onyia (discus) and Keniel Grant (long jump) are just outside the top 20 nationally.
“Our men are really young but they definitely have Top 20 as our next target,” Braman said. “We’re definitely moving in the right direction.”
Like the women, the men will be tested Friday at the FSU Relays as Alabama arrives with a preseason No. 8 national ranking, and Auburn comes to town at No. 24.