Feb. 26, 2014
CLEMSON, S.C.- With identical goals and the talent to achieve them, the Florida State men's and women's indoor track & field teams are set to embark on their quest for Atlantic Coast Conference Championships.
The three-day meet at the Clemson Indoor Track & Field Facility begins Thursday, and the Seminole women won't have to wait long to set their plan in motion. Grete Sadeiko and Alejandra Martinez will be the first `Noles to compete when the five-event pentathlon gets underway at 12 noon. The opening day of action will conclude with the FSU women chasing a third consecutive distance medley relay title.
With no entrants in the heptathlon or men's distance medley, the sixth-ranked Seminole men will wait until Friday to get their title hunt going.
For the first time in ACC history 15 women's teams and 14 men's teams will compete for the title. The addition of Notre Dame, Syracuse and Pittsburgh figures to significantly impact the outcome for both genders.
Though the FSU women's team enters the meet unranked - which is largely due to a quirk in weekly national computer rankings - they enter the meet as the favorite, thanks in large part to a lineup which includes the athlete or relay team with the top mark in five of 17 events. That bodes well for the Seminoles, who have finished second to Clemson each of the past four seasons, and are hunting their first ACC Indoor Championship since 2009 and only their second all-time.
"We have unbelievable representation in every event," FSU head coach Bob Braman said. "We've covered ourselves with a lot of top-five (rankings), but if you look at this meet historically, the team that has the most [event wins] is the team that's either there or darn close."
The Seminole women will be led by their outstanding distance group, headed up by juniors Colleen Quigley and Hannah Walker. Quigley is the top seed in the mile and will also compete in the 3000. Walker is the No. 2 seed in the 5000 and will also race in the 3000.
Collectively, the women's team has set its sights on claiming the ACC Triple Crown - winning titles in cross country, indoor and outdoor - which they also pulled off in 2009. No. 13 North Carolina, No. 24 Duke and unranked Notre Dame, appear to be the strongest contenders in the second leg of that quest.
"When we finished that outdoor performance last year, that's when those ladies decided, we finally know we can win this thing back after four years away," Braman said, noting that the FSU women were tied with Clemson with one event remaining for the outdoor title. "We've got a lot of hungry girls out there. They've been through it for three or four years and they want it badly.
"This is the hard one."
The challenge facing the Florida State men as they pursue a 10th ACC Indoor Championship is significant. No. 10 Notre Dame brings a well-balanced squad into the league, while No. 19 Pittsburgh is especially strong in the long sprint events.
"On the men's side, it's truly one of those meets where we will know if we won it or are in it, until the last two or three events, if even then," said Braman, hinting that the outcome could well come down to the final event - the 4x400 relay - which boasts four of the nation's top 12 teams.
"Notre Dame is going for it. Notre Dame wants to be the first in the new configuration to win, much like Syracuse in cross country."
Beyond the ranked squads, Duke and North Carolina have enough balance and scoring strength to claim the title as well.
The Seminoles will count heavily on its star-power for big points, led by seniors Dentarius Locke and James Harris. Locke, who was the Most Outstanding Performer at the 2013 ACC Outdoor Championships, is the favorite in the 60-meter dash and the No. 2 seed in the 200. Harris is the reigning champion and meet record-holder in the high jump, and also boasts the nation's ninth-fastest 400-meter dash time. Both men are members of the top-seeded 4x400 relay team.
Paul Madzivire and Jonathan Reid spear-head a strong field events group for the `Noles as the top seeds in the long jump and triple jump, respectively. Freshman Jalen Ramsey is the No. 2 seed in the long jump.
By Saturday evening, the Seminoles hope to be loading both the men's and women's trophies onto the bus for the trip home; a feat that has only been accomplished once in the last 16 years - by Florida State in 2009.
"That's special," Braman said. "When you have a track & field program that is committed from the administration on down ... and it comes out in a double-victory, that would be very, very special. It would be a statement about the program. It says, `This is what track & field is at Florida State.'"
You can follow all of the action via Twitter @FSU_Track and @ACCTrackField, following hashtags #Noles and #ACCITF. Complete daily recaps will be posted at www.seminoles.com.
The meet will be broadcast on ESPN3 on Friday beginning at 4 p.m. http://es.pn/1mCZJ3J and Saturday beginning at 12 noon and running through the duration of the competition http://es.pn/1mCZJAS, all of which can be accessed through Seminoles.com.
Live results will be posted at http://theacc.co/ITFlivestats