Feb. 7, 2012
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida State track & field program has fortified its distance and field event lineups with the addition of five new signees announced by head coach Bob Braman.
Highlighting the group is steeplechase specialist Zak Seddon, whose range on the track from 1500-3000 meters, as well as his cross country prowess, should provide the Seminoles with an early scoring threat on the track and a bonafide contender for a spot in the cross lineup as well. The Seminoles also added to their growing roster of prominent women when Indiana native and pole vault standout Hannah Acton signed her national letter of intent.
From England to the Midwest, FSU continues to demonstrate the broad reach of its program brand. Nonetheless, Braman and his staff also came through on the home front, mining the Florida high school ranks for two of the state's top distance runners - Max del Monte and Chris Godwin, as well as its top-ranked high jumper, Brandon Stone.
Braman, a Florida native, is keenly aware of the benefits of bringing the best in-state kids into the program.
"We've got two of the top three seniors [distance runners] in the state," Braman said. "Those kids, keeping them in state, you build up a base of good young guys. We've got a few the last couple years, but these two are the top.
"If you get those kids in the state, you're building a cross country team. If they never score at nationals [in track], you've built a cross team."
Both del Monte and Godwin have impressive resumes, especially on the cross country side. They were the Florida 3A and 4A state championship runner-ups, respectively, this past fall. While del Monte is more accomplished on the track - he was the state runner-up to current FSU freshman AJ del Valle in the 1600 meters (4:12) last spring - Godwin continued his meteoric ascent in just his third season of organized running. This past fall he qualified for the prestigious Foot Locker National Championship cross country meet in San Diego.
Make no mistake, Seddon is the star of the distance class and the most recent addition to the program from the UK.
"As a junior in high school, his performances in four events, would have been - in the U.S. [ranked] - first in the 2k steeple, first in the 3k steeple, top-three 1,500 meters and then top-five 3k," Braman said. "Assuming he does the same or a little better this year, he would be No. 1 in the U.S. in four events coming in - at the appropriate age."
The English lad from Reading, Berkshire has extensive international experience, despite his youth. He won the silver medal in the 2000-meter steeplechase at the inaugural 2010 Youth Olympic Game in Singapore and last summer, finished fifth at the IAAF World Youth Games in Lille, France with a personal-best time. He is the UK record-holder in the steeplechase for ages 16 and 17 and counts wins at the Commonwealth Youth Games and European Youth Olympics among his top feats.
Seddon has also shown tremendous range, posting a 3:46.61 PR at 1500 meters this past August, while also demonstrating great success in cross country - and everything in between. Even more encouraging, he won't celebrate his 18th birthday until late June.
Acton's arrival will provide assistant coach Dennis Nobles with one of the most promising young women's pole vaulters in the nation. She has already cleared 12-7.50 and demonstrated additional athleticism with a high jump best of 5-5. She is the reigning USA Youth Champion, the USATF Junior Olympic Regional champion and finished fifth last summer at New Balance Nationals in the vault.
"If we get a 13-foot-plus pole vault, which is what Dennis thinks we've got, that's a really good potential scoring toy for him to play with, a la Lacy Janson," Braman said, drawing a comparison to FSU's all-time top vaulter and multi-time national champion.
Stone, who hails from the small town of Trenton, Fla., has a promising upside in the high jump, which is an area of need for the Seminoles. He was the lone Floridian to clear the 7-foot standard last season.
"That's a kid - he's a lot like my distance guys - they're sleepers," Braman said of Stone. "They're very, very good kids in the state of Florida that will undoubtedly help us. Seven-foot always gets you top 3-4-5 in the ACC. If he becomes a consistent seven-footer, that's great. We haven't had an impact high jumper since Shawn Brown. It's nice to have a guy like that and we see that in Stone."
The Seminoles are not yet done with adding to their already impressive signing class, with at least two new additions of significant impact anticipated any day.
Florida State 2012 Track & Field Signees
Hannah Acton, Bloomington, Ind. (Bloomington South) - Pole Vault
Max del Monte, Tampa, Fla. (Chamberlain) - Distance
Chris Godwin, Gainesville, Fla. (Buchholz) - Distance
Brandon Stone, Trenton, Fla. (Trenton) - High Jump
Zak Seddon, Reading, Berkshire, England (The Piggott School) - Steeplechase