Feb. 13, 2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- With members of the Florida State men's and women's track & field teams spread out across the country this weekend, it is fairly evident that the indoor season is winding toward the postseason.
The Seminoles have dispatched groups to the Husky Classic in Seattle, Wash. and the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark. in what amounts to one of the last opportunities to sharpen up before the Atlantic Coast Conference Indoor Championships, Feb. 27-March 1 at Clemson.
Both meets run Friday and Saturday.
"This is a huge weekend for us," FSU coach Bob Braman said. "We've got a lot of people who are ranked in that top 25 in the country, who need to move into that top 10 or 12 so that they'll make the (top) 16, which is the national meet. This is a critical weekend because you don't have the last-chance meets any longer, so it's either this weekend or the ACC weekend, with a potential weekend in between."
By and large the two destinations reflect the various strength areas of the program.
"We have all of the elite distance kids going out to Seattle," Braman said. "The women's distance medley is a potential high-scoring group at nationals, so they have to get their work done."
The 300-meter Dempsey Indoor Track on the University of Washington campus regularly produces some of the nation's best times. That will be key as coach Karen Harvey's women's distance medley relay team of Linden Hall, Elizabeth Ichite, Georgia Peel and Colleen Quigley go after an NCAA qualifying mark Friday, which will require they record one of the nation's 12 fastest times. Peel and Quigley were members of last year's school record squad which ran 10:57.41 at the ACC Championships; a mark that could well be in peril before the end of the season.
Hannah Walker and Kayleigh Tyerman will also compete in the women's 5000-meter invitational race on Friday, while on the men's side, Kevin Johnson, Glen Yarham and Bryant Blahnik will also compete in the 5000.
On Saturday, Quigley, Hall and Peel are all entered in the invitational mile, while Ichite is in the 400-meter invitational field. Pippa Woolven will join Walker and Tyerman in the invitational 3000-meter race for the women, while senior Jakub Zivec will make his season debut in the men's invitational 3000.
At Arkansas, the Seminoles hope to cash in on the fast Randal Tyson Track Complex to secure additional NCAA spots. Alonzo Russell and Michael Cherry are in the hunt to make the NCAA field at 400 meters, while long jumpers Paul Madzivire and Jalen Ramsey are also in the mix for national berths.
Sprints coach Ken Harnden is hopeful senior Marecia Pemberton can nudge closer to punching her return trip to the NCAA meet in the 60-meter dash, but he's also anxious to see how the men's 4x400 relay - at full strength - has improved since posting what is now the nation's seventh-best mark (3:07.70) at the opening meet of the season.
A number of FSU throwers are also jockeying for postseason positioning, including Briana Cherry-Bronson and Lakitta Johnson in the weight throw, and both Chelsea Whalen and Kellion Knibb in the shot put.
"The sidebar to all of this is that the A-minus, B-plus athlete who may not make it to nationals, but is a definite scoring-possible person at the conference meet, needs a really good weekend here to get ready to the ACC," Braman said. "It's important to get into fast sections...for seeding and really just for momentum going into the conference meet. You don't want to go into this conference with 15 teams - a very good conference - and try to figure it out on the fly.
"It's a momentum weekend. It's a national qualifying weekend. It's an ACC set-up weekend, where we've got to start setting up the possibility of winning championships."
You can keep up with the action via Twitter @FSU_Track or by checking back at Seminoles.com for daily recaps. Live results are also available at the following links: