Feb. 9, 2012
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
GENEVA, Ohio - Eight-time All-American and U.S. Olympic hopeful Maurice Mitchell will make his season debut this weekend for the Florida State men's indoor track & field team at the SPIRE Invitational.
Mitchell, the NCAA Outdoor national champion in the 200-meter dash, will launch his senior campaign over the same distance around the speedy 300-meter oval at the SPIRE Institute. The Kansas City, Mo. native, who was the NCAA Indoor runner-up at 200 meters last year, boasts a personal-best 20.41 indoors.
"Maurice Mitchell is obviously our most decorated athlete and it's great to get him back out there," said FSU head coach Bob Braman. "It's going to be fast. It's an over-sized track, so you have to mentally get prepared for it. It's faster than an outdoor track, really, because it's effectively, one long turn...
"There will be a lot of good people there."
While a few Seminoles will get their first taste of competition Friday evening, the bulk of the competitors from the men's and women's teams will get going late Saturday morning.
The meet will also mark the season debut of graduate student Gonzalo Barriolhet, who will compete in the pole vault. The Chilean, who will set a school record in the decathlon this past summer at the PanAm Games, was just granted a medical redshirt by the Atlantic Coast Conference after suffering a shoulder injury during the 2011 season, and cleared to compete Wednesday.
Junior women's sprinter Marecia Pemberton, coming off an injury-slowed outdoor campaign, will make her season debut in the 60-meter dash and likely the 200 as well.
"Marecia [Pemberton] has had almost a year of being dinged up," Braman said. "It's been a slow turn, but she's really starting to look good in practice and we're hoping she has a nice debut out there in the 60."
Pemberton has a career-best 7.26 for the 60-meter dash.
In all, FSU's sprint contingent, should be poised for a big weekend. Kemar Hyman, who ranks No. 2 nationally in the 60-meter dash (6.56), will have a chance to go after Mitchell's school record (6.55), while Horatio Williams will try and secure NCAA qualifying times in both the 60 and 200, where he's seeded second to Mitchell. Touted freshman Rachmil von Lamoen will make his season debut for the `Noles in the 200 and be joined by fast-improving fellow freshman Kieran Showler-Davis. David Ambler will also test his fitness in the 60.
FSU has five of the top 12 times heading into the 60-meter dash preliminaries and four of the top 10 in the 200. That doesn't include freshman Stephen Newbold, who brings the second-fastest time into the 400-meter dash.
Women's distance coach Karen Harvey, whose strong group currently dominates the top-10 rankings in both the one mile and 3,000 meters, has her sights set on automatic qualifying standards for junior Amanda Winslow and freshman Colleen Quigley in the 3,000. Likewise, Hannah Brooks will be gunning for a guaranteed spot in the mile at the NCAA Indoor Championships with an improved performance.
Not to be outdone, Braman's distance men also approach the SPIRE with a purpose.
"There are a lot of teams there," Braman said. "On the distance side, we're getting a lot of help to set up some races. We're going to try and get [Darrin] Gibson qualified in the 800, or as close as we can to the automatic qualifying time. We're going to try and get [David] Forrester as close as we can in the 3k and the auto time."
In the field events, triple jumper Michelle Jenije and long jumper Amy Harris are ranked third nationally in their respective events, but have yet to lock in an automatic qualifying standard for nationals. Neither has Phillip Young, whose best shot at a national berth will likely come in the triple jump. All three will be in action at SPIRE.
While securing spots for the March 9-10 NCAA Indoor Championship is the ultimate goal, preparing his teams to make runs at the ACC Indoor Championship meet is also a high priority.
"We've got our conference-level people, who are not trying to nationally qualify, but are going to try and get a good time down so they can be finalists for us at the ACC in two weeks," Braman said. "That's not going to happen at Mike Long Track practice. You've got to get out here and man- and woman-up against good people and get it done."