Jan. 20, 2012
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - After weeks of training and even a tune-up meet for a handful of field event athletes last weekend, Florida State will open its 2012 indoor track & field season in Saturday's Auburn Invitational at the new Birmingham Crossplex facility.
All but a handful of eligible Seminole men and women are expected to compete on the first-year 200-meter Mondo surface facility, facing a field that will include 10 men's teams and 12 on the women's side. The FSU men enter the meet ranked No. 6 nationally in the USTFCCCA preseason poll, while the women check in at No. 9.
The Seminoles will square off against a competitive field which includes, on the men's side, No. 19 Mississippi, No. 20 Mississippi State and No. 21 Georgia . On the women's side, No. 4 Texas, No. 5 Clemson, No. 6 UCF and No. 14 Georgia each have athletes entered in the 15-event meet.
"I think we needed to have a full team meet," said FSU head coach Bob Braman. "Not everybody is competing but we're competing with pretty much the same sized team that we will take to the ACC meet.
"This is a rust-buster. For a majority of our team, this is our check-in. ... This is kind of a, `ready-or-not, here-we-come' meet. I think a lot of kids are excited to race. They've been out pounding it in practice."
Senior Michael Putman, an All-American outdoors in the shot put last season and the reigning ACC indoor champion, will kick off his final season with an eye toward advancing to NCAA Indoor Championships for the first time. Amy Harris, who advanced to indoor nationals last season in the long jump, will get her first taste of competition this season while also competing in the 60-meter dash.
Senior Michelle Jenije, who won the triple jump last week in the Auburn Invitational, is back at the Crossplex attempting to post an NCAA qualifying mark. So is redshirt junior pole vaulter Andrew Lahaye, who earned All-American honors outdoors last season.
Junior Tremaine Grant, an outdoor NCAA qualifier in the 110-meter hurdles, will make his indoor debut in the 60-meter hurdles.
The men will also field three 4x400-meter relay teams, including an `A' team that will be anchored by LSU transfer and multi-time All-American Horatio Williams. Veteran sprinters Kemar Hyman and David Ambler will compete in the 60-meter dash
"It's about that time to get started," Braman said. "It's a lot more fun to have that big group out there and have a chance to post career bests and feed off of."
Not only are some of the more prominent veterans slated for action, but Braman and his FSU coaching staff will get a first look at a host of newcomers to the program in a variety of events. Among the more heralded first-year `Noles making their debuts will be Jande Pierce (400 meters) and Desmonae Gray (60 hurdles), as well as Colleen Quigley, Aubree Worden and Linden Hall in the mile run.
On the men's side, freshman sprinter Kieran Showler-Davis will get his first taste of action in the 200-meter dash and also contribute a leg on the 4x400 `A' team with Phillip Young, Grant and Williams.
In addition to those athletes representing Florida State, former Seminole and winner of the 2011 Bowerman Award, Ngoni Makusha, will compete unattached in the long jump. The Zimbabwean, who was a bronze medalist this past summer at the World Championships, will be competing indoors for the first time this year. Running unattached in the 3,000 meters are FSU students Jackie Drouin and Astrid Leutert, who will join the team for the outdoor season.
While most of the `Noles will get their first taste of action Saturday, men's and women's sprint standouts Maurice Mitchell and Marecia Pemberton will be held out of competition. So will most of men's distance team. They are all tentatively scheduled to make their season debuts next week at the University of Arkansas.
Complete results, including photographs from the meet, will be posted Saturday evening on Seminoles.com, or you can follow updates via Twitter @FSU_Track throughout the competition.