Dec. 7, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Track and Field News, long considered the bible for those who follow the sport, has anointed the Florida State men’s signing class – which will debut when the 2013 indoor season opens January 14 – as the top class in the country.
It’s the first time the FSU men have appeared in the annual signing class rankings by the magazine since 2007, when the Seminoles were in the midst of bringing three consecutive NCAA Outdoor Championship trophies back home.
“It’s obviously exciting and fantastic that our class is ranked No. 1 and that’s a tribute to the hard work of our assistant coaches,” FSU head coach Bob Braman said. “We feel like the people that we signed are going to be national level people.
“That’s the trick to recruiting - to get people to come in and be able to take the next step, not just the people who were All-Americans. Almost all of these kids look like they can get it done.”
That’s not to say the Seminoles didn’t bring in All-American talent. Led by 2012 high school All-American sprinter Marvin Bracy, the Seminoles’ class scored highest according to TFN’s experts, who weighed multiple factors, most significantly whether they are likely to have an immediate impact at the collegiate level.
Bracy, a football signee who was redshirted in the fall, clearly falls into that category. The former Orlando Boone standout set the national high school indoor record at 60 meters (6.08) and boasted a nation-leading time in the 100 (10.25/10.05w). Those marks put him in a class comparable to former Seminole greats Walter Dix, Charles Clark and Maurice Mitchell.
He will be joined by another incoming, football-playing freshman, Ronald Darby. Darby was an All-American as a junior in 2011 at Oxon Hill Potomac (Md.) with all-time bests of 10.41 in the 100 and 21.05 in the 200.
What sets the Seminoles apart, however, is a trio of Division I transfers. Dentarius Locke, an All-American at Tennessee in 2011, has run 10.18 in the 100 and 20.58 in the 200, but sat out last season as a transfer. Former Mississippi State star James Harris is versatile enough to score on the national level in the high jump (7-5 ¼) and the 400 (45.58). Owen Cain comes to FSU from Maryland Eastern Shore, where he recorded a personal-best in the triple jump of 51-1.
A pair of young Bahamian stars – Alonzo Russell and Andre Wells – should bolsters FSU’s 4x400 group given their 400m PR’s of 46.56 and 46.87, respectively. Freshman and Great Britain native Zak Seddon, who contributed to FSU’s fifth-place NCAA cross country finish last month, is an accomplished steeplechaser (8:38.07) with great range.
The Seminoles added some potentially helpful pieces in areas of need as well, broadening the overall impact of the class, especially at the conference level. Chilean Cristobal Hurtado Areteaga (6-10 ¾) and Tampa Jesuit product Nick Medich (6-8) provide assistance in the high jump. Incoming pole vaulter Michael Chase Jones (16-6) joins an already solid group, while West Palm Beach Kings Academy’s Ricardo Roy could also contribute to the 4x400 quartet (400m/47.58).
New throws coach Dorian Scott will call on former Tallahassee Chiles and junior college All-American Stargell Williams in the shot put (54-8).
The return of veteran Tremaine Grant after a medical redshirt should give the ‘Noles a lift in the 110-meter hurdles (13.94).
Not included in TFN’s calculations, but no less important to FSU’s national title aspirations, will be the January arrival of South African javelin thrower Morne Moolman (250-3) should pay scoring dividends outdoors.
“This has to be the most complete class we have ever signed on the men’s side; incredible talent as well as deep across the board,” said FSU associate head coach Ken Harnden, who heads up the recruiting efforts. “Locke, Harris and Bracy are, of course, superstars, but the other guys in the class make it very dangerous.”
While the men’s signing class grabbed the top rating, the Florida State coaching staff is equally excited about landing a women’s class that checked in at No. 7 by Track and Field News. It’s a group that could well lead the Seminole women back to a prominent place in the NCAA rankings after managing just one top-10 team finish outdoors in the last 21 years.
Versatile and deep with an international flavor, the Seminoles’ signing class can impact a variety of event areas. Belgium 100-meter hurdler Anne Zagre (12.79), who reached the London Olympic semifinals, has already run faster in her event than last year’s NCAA champion. Zagre arrives with two years of eligibility remaining, but because of her January enrollment, was not calculated in TFN’s rankings.
Grete Sadeiko, a freshman heptathlete from Estonia, has a personal-best of 5705 points which would have qualified her for the NCAA championships. Sadeiko, however, is also a potential NCAA qualifier in the javelin. Fellow freshman Sage Watson, who has represented Canada on the junior world stage, has 400m hurdle personal-best of 58.04, which would have earned her an NCAA qualifying spot. Sweden’s Ewa Marcinkiewicz is a potential NCAA qualifier in the triple jump (41-3 ¼) but is versatile enough to compete in the 400m hurdles or multi-events.
The Seminoles have already benefitted from the arrival of freshman middle distance star Georgia Peel from Great Britain. Peel earned All-ACC and All-NCAA South Region honors for coach Karen Harvey’s top-ranked cross country team in the fall, but has an even more impressive track resume. As a high school junior she ran 4:16.24 for 1500m, breaking a 30-year-old English Schools Championship mark with a time worthy of placing most years at the NCAA Championships.
Jamaican throws standout Kellion Knibb, a late arrival in the fall, is rangy, athletic and versatile enough to potentially score nationally in the discus (167-5), javelin (154-9) and shot put.
“We really felt this class should have been in the top five,” Harnden said. “I think it will prove to be at least that good. Zagre, Sadeiko, Knibb and Watson have the ability to put the ladies in the national title hunt.”
A pair of Seminoles forced to sit out last spring due to injury, Swedish triple jumper Izie Ileso (42-11) and sprinter Marecia Pemberton (11.29, 100m), should provide a big lift when they return to full strength. Ileso was a junior college All-American at Iowa Central, while Pemberton has already earned All-American honors indoor and outdoor wearing Garnet & Gold.
In addition to the most proven stars of the incoming class, a handful of newcomers with significant upsides could well aid FSU’s cause at the conference level early on. That group includes pole vaulter Hannah Acton (13-1 ½) from Indiana, long jumper Der’Renae Freeman (20-0 ¾) from Winter Garden, Fla. and Colorado state sprint champion Sierra Williams (11.69, 100).
Throws specialist Tori Reiman won 2A state titles in the shot put and discus for Jacksonville Bolles last season and boasts PR’s of 137-5 and 43-10 1/3, while former Miami Ferguson standout Natalie Concepcion was the 4A state champion in the 800 with a personal-best of 2:13.79. Jacksonville Bishop Kenny high jumper Stacey Drilling (5-5) and Tallahassee Chiles distance standout Carly Thomas, who ran on the top-ranked cross country team in the fall and will likely compete in 5000 and 10,000m distances, round out the group.
The Seminoles will also add another contributor in January when South African Maryke Brits, the sister of FSU sophomore Stefan Brits, comes on board to compete in the 100m hurdles (13.73) and long jump (6.15).