Jan. 24, 2013
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- After opening the indoor track & field season with a pair of bus trips to Birmingham, Ala., there was a little added excitement as the Florida State men's and women's teams departed for the Razorback Invitational Thursday.
"Any time you get on the plane versus getting on the bus it has a different feel to it," FSU associate head coach Ken Harnden said.
There's a good reason for the palpable buzz. A handful of Seminoles will make their season debuts at the Randal Tyson Track Complex on the University of Arkansas campus over the course of the two-day meet, which begins Friday. The most anticipated debut of the bunch will be made by freshman sprinter Marvin Bracy, who will compete in the 60-meter dash.
Bracy will get a chance to see where his fitness level is after just three weeks of training coming off a fall redshirt season as a wide receiver with the Seminole football team. The Orlando, Fla. native certainly has the pedigree for success. Almost one year ago to the weekend he set the national high school record in the 55-meter dash (6.08) at the University of Florida.
"Obviously you bring one of the greatest high school sprinters of all time with you and that brings a little spice with it," Harnden said. "Dentarius Locke is one of the other greatest high school sprinters from the state of Florida, so that makes it fun."
Locke currently ranks sixth nationally in the 60-meter dash (6.67) and will look to improve that mark, while also taking his first shot of the season at the 200 as well.
"Each week we get a little more excited," FSU head coach Bob Braman said. "It's great to see our national guys, Dentarius and Marvin, get after it. And they'll have some real quality national guys to compete with." In all, 48 Seminoles are entered in the meet. The 21st-ranked Seminoles are among six nationally ranked men's teams competing, including , No. 1 Arkansas, No. 3 Florida, No. 7 LSU, No. 11 Texas and No. 13 Arizona. On the women's side, the unranked Seminoles will get tested by a field which includes eight ranked squads. It will also mark the first meet this season that will be scored. Among those `Noles making their debuts this week are Braman's distance squad, led by fifth-year senior Michael Fout and sophomore A.J. del Valle (mile), senior David Forrester and freshman Zak Seddon (3000m) and graduate student Seth Proctor (5000m).
"They're excited which is the main thing," Braman said of his men's distance crew. "Fout is in the fifth year and he's like every other American kid, he wants to break 4 minutes in the mile. ...Dave Forrester, with as good an athlete as he is, he's in a heat that's loaded. It will be good for Dave and he's excited about it." The goal for Braman is to see his squad knock off some rust before heading out to the University of Washington in two weeks, where the Huskies' over-sized track is ideal for establishing NCAA Indoor national qualifying marks. While most of women's distance coach Karen Harvey's squad made their debuts last week, she will shuffle up the events this time out, with senior Amanda Winslow, sophomore Colleen Quigley and freshman Georgia Peel, tackling the mile run. Peel is currently ranked second nationally in the 800, while Winslow and Quigley rank third and seventh, respectively, in the 3000.
With Mike Long Track closed for resurfacing prior to the Christmas break, many of the sprinters and jumpers are now just beginning to see the benefits of getting some quality track time in practice.
"With the short sprinters we're starting to get a little track time, which is big and makes it exciting to have actually done some technical stuff and be able to put it on the track," Harnden said. "I think Stephen Newbold and Alonzo Russell are ready to go. Sage Watson is starting to round out after getting sick over Christmas and that's a huge thing for us."
That trio will be competing in the 400-meter dash, which is arguably one of the deepest events in the meet.
Likewise, the added track time should begin to pay off for the jumpers, including Izzy Ileso and Stefan Brits, who will make their season debuts in the women's triple jump and men's long jump, respectively. In Ileso's case, it will mark her first competitive performance for the `Noles since suffering a torn ACL last winter.
"It's going to be a good meet," Harnden said. "It's definitely a little higher than the Birmingham meet, but at the same time it's also on the Arkansas track which is one of the best in the country; the best in the world. That's going to be fun."