March 8, 2012
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
BOISE, Idaho - Ten-strong, the Florida State men's and women's indoor track teams arrived here early in the week with every intention of maintaining their standing as one of the elite programs in the nation at the 2012 NCAA Indoor Championships.
While the Seminole men and women aren't featured prominently in the discussion of potential team champions, Bob Braman'ssquads have enough firepower to make some noise when the two-day meet gets started Friday at Jacksons Track, a stand-alone equestrian center that plays host to the top NCAA Division I athletes this weekend.
The Florida State contingent of five men and five women have enough weapons on hand to put a dent in the standings, and that's just fine with Braman, whose focus has long been on the outdoor season.
"It would be nice to get some individual champions, like a Maurice [Mitchell], but for us our standard is not focusing on indoors," Braman said. "It's not head-to-head. We like head-to-head because we think we do well in that, which is outdoor track. Our standard is always first 10 and even our women, thanks a lot to Kim Williams, we've been in that first 10 most years."
Senior men's sprinter Maurice Mitchell, a finalist and All-American in both the 60- and 200-meter dashes last season, leads an impressive group of `Noles in the short sprint events. Mitchell is the No. 3 seed in the 200, his best event, while senior Kemar Hyman brings the third-fastest 60-meter dash time into the meet. Senior Horatio Williams, a five-time All-American at LSU, will look to add to that total as he doubles up alongside Mitchell in the 60 and 200.
Michael Putman, yet another senior, has been an All-American outdoors each of the last two years, but is making his first NCAA Indoor appearance following his career-best 63-foot, winning shot put toss for the ACC Championship.
Sophomore triple jumper Phillip Youngrounds out the FSU men who qualified for the field, which is made up of the top 15-20 individuals in each of the 17 events.
A handful of `Noles who were instrumental in leading the men to the Atlantic Coast Conference title, including miler David Forrester, pole vaulter Gonzalo Barroilhet and long jumper Paul Madzivire, either narrowly missed qualifying or were scratched from competition due to injury.
"The men, I think we can have an average to normal meet and be in that top 10," Braman said. "Everybody's goal is to be on that podium - that's top four - and get a [team] trophy. ... Not having all of our pieces together, that are going to make us a very good outdoor team, we don't have. To get on the podium with the group we've got - every one of them can score - I'm excited about it.
"If we can be on the podium with the men, that would be a phenomenal indoor finish for this team."
The Seminole women bring balanced representation to the championships. The distance side is represented by a pair of cross country All-Americans. Graduate student Hannah Brooks, who earned All-American honors in the 2011 outdoor championships in the 1500 meters, will compete in the mile. Junior Amanda Winslow, an All-American in the mile last season indoors, steps up to the highly-competitive 3000-meter event.
While the `Noles will miss graduate Kim Williams, who won the last three indoor triple jump titles and also competed in the long jump, they will be represented in both of those events by a pair of seniors. Michelle Jenije is the No. 3 seed in the triple jump and an All-American both indoors and outdoors last season. Amy Harrisis making her third consecutive indoor nationals appearance in the long jump.
Junior Marecia Pembertonrounds out the women's team representatives. Pemberton, who has been coming on strong over the last two meets, will make her second consecutive indoor nationals appearance in the 60-meter dash.
The collective big-stage experience of the group could go a long way toward how they rise up in the face of the competition at Jacksons Track.
"The women are going to have to have a really good meet to get into the top 10," Braman said. "They're going to have to have some thirds, fourths, fifths and sixths. ... Let's post some points, put them on the table and see where we stand."
Live coverage will be provided by ESPN3 on Friday from 7:30 p.m.-11:45 p.m. (ET) and Saturday from 8 p.m.-11:15 p.m. A tape delay will be broadcast on ESPNU, Sunday from 7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Additional coverage is available at NCAA.com and broncosports.com, which will stream when ESPN3 is not covering Friday and Saturday.
Of course, you can follow Florida State coverage via Twitter @FSU_Track and also at Seminoles.com