June 19, 2013
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida State track & field, with its world-wide reach, will be well-represented this week as the United States, Canada and Jamaica national championship meets get underway.
Four Seminoles fresh off earning first-team All-American honors at the NCAA Championship meet headline an impressive group competing at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, which runs June 19-23. They will be joined by six former Seminole stars with designs on representing the U.S. at the IAAF World Championships later this summer.
Juniors Dentarius Locke and James Harris will compete in the 100- and 400-meter sprint events, respectively. Michael Fout, who completed his collegiate eligibility two weeks ago at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., will compete in the 10,000 at the five-day event.
The NCAA runner-up at 100 meters, Locke owns the fastest legal time among collegians in 2013 (9.97), set in the semifinals at the NCAA Championship meet. He ranks fifth against the field headed by U.S. sprint heavyweights Justin Gatlin (9.79) and Tyson Gay (9.80).
Locke's confidence has grown throughout his first season with the Seminoles as he won the ACC 100-meter title and was the meet's MVP on the track as FSU won the team title. Last week he was selected as the ACC's Most Outstanding Track Athlete this season.
"I'm actually starting to get a little more confident," said Locke, who admits, "I see myself as the little guy running against these big-name guys."
There has been a natural progression to Locke's 100-meter success this season. After posting a 10.08 at the ACC meet in the semifinals, he dropped his personal-best to 10.05 at the NCAA East Preliminary meet. The Tampa native attributes his progress to his ability to focus on race execution.
"It has definitely helped me to focus and execute," said Locke. "You're thinking about what you're doing in practice instead of who's in lane 2 and who's in lane 8. ... Once [that process] becomes natural, I think it makes easier to run with the faster guys like Gatlin and Tyson."
Like Fout, Seminole Amanda Winslow will toe the starting line in the 1500 in her first post-collegiate competition.
"I'm really excited to just go out there and get the experience; get in a really elite field and see how I can I do," said Winslow, who placed eighth in the 1500 at the NCAA Championship meet. "I planned all along to extend my season to this race. There have been some minor things that have held back my training throughout the season, but I'm healthy enough to run the race."
Winslow is coming off one of the finest seasons in school history, earning first-team All-American honors in cross country as well and the indoor and outdoor seasons. She qualified for her first USA National Championship meet when she set the Atlantic Coast Conference and Florida State records with a runner-up finish in the mile at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March.
Harris is the No. 12 seed in the 400-meter dash based on his season-best time of 45.20.
Locke, Harris and Winslow are scheduled to compete in first-round heats on Thursday. Fout will tackle the 10,000-meter final Thursday evening. Harris is the No. 5 seed in the high jump, which will be contested on Sunday.
All four aspire to represent the United States at the IAAF World Championships, set for Moscow, Russia Aug. 10-18, which will require a top-three finish.
NCAA steeplechase runner-up Colleen Quigley qualified as well, but has withdrawn from the competition.
Two younger Seminoles, freshman Hannah Acton and incoming sophomore transfer Otniel Teixeira, are entered in the USA Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which run simultaneously at Drake. Acton, an NCAA East Preliminary qualifier this past season, will compete in the pole vault. Teixeira, who will join the Seminoles in the fall after spending his freshman season at USF, is entered in both the 800 and 1500.
They have their sights set on making the U.S. team that will compete at the Pan American Junior Championships, Aug. 23-25 in Medellin, Colombia, which will require a top-four finish.
Teixeira will begin first-round competition in the 800 on Thursday and the 1500 on Friday. Acton is scheduled for Friday's pole vault competition.
Florida State's rich sprint history will also be on display in Des Moines. Walter Dix, a double-bronze medalist at the 2008 Olympic Games, is scheduled for both the 100 and 200. He will be joined by 2012 FSU graduate and U.S. Olympian Maurice Mitchell in the 200. Former Seminole All-Americans Brandon Byram and Charles Clark are also entered in the 200, which is set for first-round action on Saturday.
Representing the Seminoles in the field events are 2012 Olympian Lacy Warren (formerly Janson) in the pole vault, and 2008 Olympian Rafeeq Curry in the triple jump.
Beyond the borders, a pair of freshly-minted FSU school record-holders will compete in their respective national championship meet.
Chelsea Whalen, who set a new Seminole standard in the shot put this past season as a junior, and also qualified for the NCAA Championships in the javelin, will compete in Canadian National Championships in both events. Whalen will make the four-hour drive from her home in Liverpool, Nova Scotia to Moncton, New Brunswick. The opening round of the javelin is Thursday morning, with the shot put - where she is her country's No. 2 seed - is set for Friday.
Kellion Knibb, who smashed the FSU school record as a freshman in the discus this past season, returns to her homeland to compete at the Jamaican National Championships at National Stadium in Kingston. Knibb is the No. 2 seed in the discus, which will be contested Friday.
Kimberly Williams, one of the most decorated athletes in Seminole history, will take a break from her Diamond League schedule to defend her Jamaican national championship in the triple jump. Williams, who reached the finals at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, will compete Sunday.
Recent FSU signee Chadrick DaCosta, fresh out of high school ranks where he competed for Kingston College, will step up to the larger implement and compete in the shot put on Sunday.