May 17, 2012
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A total of 35 track & field athletes will represent the nationally-ranked Florida State men and women next week at the University of North Florida when the postseason gets going with the NCAA Championship East Preliminary round.
The NCAA announced the fields for the East and West Preliminary round meets on Thursday. FSU will head to Hodges Stadium, May 24-26 for the penultimate meet of the year, which will include the top 48 athletes in each individual event, as well as the top 24 teams in both relay events. The top 12 in each event advancing to the NCAA Outdoor Championships at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, June 6-9.
The fifth-ranked Florida State men, who came within a point of a national title last season, will carry 19 athletes to UNF.
"We're very pleased," FSU coach Bob Braman said of the Seminoles' representation. "Our health is good, we're glad to be only 2 ½ hours down the road and we're ready to make some hay and be one of the teams that has a shot [at a national championship]."
Eleven Seminoles are seeded in the top 12 in their respective events, led by senior sprinter Maurice Mitchell, who is ranked No. 1 in the 200 and No. 7 in the 100. He is the defending NCAA champion in the 200 and was third in the 100 last season.
Mitchell, who is also a member of FSU's third-seeded 4x100 relay team, is one of three Seminoles qualifying in two events. Senior sprinter Horatio Williams is seeded seventh in the 200 and ninth in the 100, while sophomore Phillip Young in the No. 4 seed in the triple jump and also among three FSU qualifiers in the long jump.
Florida State advances 16 women to the East Preliminary round, including a staggering 10 distance runners. In all, eight Seminoles are seeded among the top 12 in their respective events, including three in the 1500-meter run - junior Amanda Winslow (third) and seniors Violah Lagat (eighth) and Hannah Brooks (ninth).
The 25th-ranked Seminole women, however, aren't only relying on their distance runners. Seniors Amy Harris and Michelle Jenije have been ranked among the top performers in the nation throughout the season in their respective specialties, the long jump and triple jump. Harris is sixth-seeded in the long jump, while Jenije is the No. 3 seed in the triple jump.
"We're in a good spot," Braman said, after reviewing the list of qualifiers. "We feel like it gives us a position to give us a chance to move forward."
Senior sprinter Kemar Hyman enters the meet ranked No. 2 in the East - and the nation - in the 100-meter dash, and will be a part of FSU's 4x100 relay team.
The Seminoles are also positioned to advance several distance runners to the NCAA Championship meet. Junior Darrin Gibson is the No. 5 seed in the 800, while David Forrester and Breandan O Neill are No. 7 seeds in the 1500 and 5000, respectively. Junior Mike Fout is the No. 5 seed in the 10,000-meter run, with an eye on advancing to his second NCAA Championship meet in that event.
Junior Andrew Lahaye is the No. 11 seed in the pole vault.
Beyond the highest seeded Seminoles, senior Michael Putman and freshman Stephen Newbold, have the capability of advancing in the shot put and 200, respectively. Putman, who underwent thumb surgery in March and competed in just two meets, made it to the East Preliminary as the No. 45 seed. Putman, however, has qualified for the NCAA Championship meet in the event each of the past two seasons and has three shot put All-American honors on his resume.
Newbold, who had only the 59th-fastest 200 time in the East, climbed to No. 42 after scratches and declarations. He was third in the 200 at the ACC Indoor Championships and has a high ceiling in the event.
"Stephen is capable of doing something to get himself to the next level, so he's one of those wildcards you want to get in there," Braman said. "Mike is a real good wildcard. Those are the ones that got in on the back end that we feel like can do some damage."
Gonzalo Barroilhet has already advanced to the NCAA Championship in the decathlon, where he's ranked No. 2 in the nation - and currently No. 7 in the world. Barroilhet will compete in the East Preliminary in the 110-meter hurdles as the No. 13 seed, and if the Seminoles are fortunate, might also land a spot in the pole vault as the NCAA considers an appeal by Braman for his inclusion.