May 11, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - For the vast majority of Florida State track & field athletes competing this weekend at either the Georgia Tech Invitational or the Virginia Elite meets, it's a final chance to tune up before the postseason begins.
Still, a handful of Seminoles are staring at the potential end of the 2012 season, if they are unable to secure marks or times worthy of inclusion in the May 24-26 NCAA East Regional. Only the top 48 athletes in each event - and the top 24 relay teams - will move on to UNF and have a chance to advance to the NCAA Championship meet.
"We've got some people that have to get the mark," FSU head coach Bob Braman said. "That's the obvious, but we're still in pretty decent shape. Most of our [probable] national qualifiers are in good shape."
Getting as many athletes qualified for the NCAA Championship is pivotal for the Seminoles, who are ranked fourth in this week's USTFCCCA computer poll and have designs on a national title.
Among those Seminoles who aren't yet assured a regional berth is senior thrower Michael Putman, who made his season debut last week at Clemson's Bob Pollock Invitational and won the shot put with a throw of 17.00 meters, which currently ranks 45th in the East Regional. A two-time NCAA Championship qualifier in both the shot put and discus, Putman has work to do to make it three appearances in a row, as he tries to cram a season's worth of preparation into a two-week window following March surgery to repair a broken thumb.
"The scariest one for me is Mike Putman," Braman said. "We have to get him in. A month from now he could be a different animal."
Competing at Georgia Tech, Putman needs a minimum discus throw of at least 52.00 meters, to earn a qualifying mark. His tenuous standing in the shot put could also use a few centimeters for comfort.
Putman, however, isn't completely alone. Stefan Brits essentially made his outdoor debut last week in the long jump with a leap of 7.45m, which ranks 31st in the regional. While that's comfortably inside the qualifying parameters, Brits will test his tender hamstring with his first all-out effort at Georgia Tech as well.
While Georgia Tech will play host to the Seminole sprinters and field event competitors, the FSU distance crew will return to Charlottesville, Va., the site of last month's ACC Championship meet. There, Jakub Zivec will try and trim a few seconds of his 1500-meter time, which will get him into the regional field.
The same holds true for FSU women Linden Hall and Jackie Drouin in the 1500. Women's distance coach Karen Harvey will unleash her full contingent, most of whom will double-up in events as they get their final competitive work in before the postseason begins.
David Forrester is assured of a regional berth in the 1500, but the cross country All-American is eager to take the next step in just his second outdoor meet of the season. Forrester will have to run better than his season-best 3:44.67 to have a chance to qualify for the NCAA Championship, where his scoring potential would provide the `Noles with a big lift.
Freshman Stephen Newbold, who was third at the ACC Indoor Championships in the 200, will tackle the same event outdoors at Georgia Tech with a two-fold purpose. Newbold has the potential to qualify individually in the 200 for the regional, but it will also help him sharpen his speed and execution for the 400. He will also take a turn with a 4x100 relay team that, this week, will include David Ambler, Horatio Williams and Maurice Mitchell.
Among the other `Noles who are down to their last chance to qualify for the regional meet are Marsha Ariol (400m hurdles), Markindey Sineus and Trevor Andrews (hammer), Ronald Bolden (400), Pablo Navarrete (800), Justin Byrd (110 hurdles) and Drew Marcello (pole vault)
Equally important, the men's 4x400 relay team enters the Georgia Tech Invitational with very little wiggle room based on their 3:08.90 season-best time, which sits 17th among regional hopefuls. Shaving one second off that time would assure a spot in the field at UNF.
Seminole veterans like sprinters Mitchell and Williams, decathlete Gonzalo Barroilhet, pole vaulters Andrew Lahaye and Lauren Giffin and jumps specialist Phillip Young, will use the meet as a tune-up.
"You're two weeks from regions, so you want to get in a good effort," Braman said.
Competition at Georgia Tech begins Friday afternoon and runs through Saturday, while the Virginia Elite meet kicks off late Saturday afternoon.
You can follow the Seminoles' progress throughout both meets via Twitter @FSU_Track and check back at Seminoles.com for a recap of the competition.