Tallahassee, FL - On Wednesday, the Florida State track & field teams held their first squad meeting of 2013, with more than 120 student-athletes – many of whom had not yet competed for the Seminoles - gathering in the high jump area of the newly-resurfaced Mike Long Track.
Saturday, the Seminoles will open their indoor season at the Crimson Tide Indoor Opener in Birmingham, Ala. No fewer than 18-year first-year FSU athletes boarded the bus Friday for the day-long meet, which will be held at the second-year Birmingham CrossPlex facility.
“I’ve got to believe this is the youngest team we’ve had in my memory,” FSU associate head coach Ken Harnden said. “I think there’s a lot of excitement. We left a fair number of prominent athletes at home, too. … When you add in some other names that we’ve got on the team, it’s a huge number of young people. Honestly it’s probably the hardest working team we’ve had as well.”
That is also a good sign because the Seminoles head into the season with significant voids to fill following heavy graduation losses. Buoyed by the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class, according to Track & Field News, the 16th-ranked Florida State men will lean on a core group of younger athletes to make up for the loss of 2012 Olympians Maurice Mitchell, Kemar Hyman and Gonzalo Barroilhet, who were key contributors to the school’s ACC Indoor Championship and eighth place NCAA Indoor finish.
One of those newcomers, redshirt junior Dentarius Locke, figures to play a prominent role immediately. Locke, a transfer from Tennessee, will make his Seminole debut in the 60-meter dash. He was an All-American in the event in 2011 but was forced to sit out last season when Tennessee refused to sign his transfer waiver.
“This is a long time coming for him,” Harnden said of Locke. “Thinking of his first three years of college, having to sit out the first two of them, it’s a special day for him to just get on the bus.”
Locke was so anxious to get back on the track he packed his bag for the trip nearly a month ago when he received his FSU gear.
He is not alone. Among the men, junior college transfer Alonzo Russell and freshmen Andre Wells and Ricardo Roy will make their FSU debuts in the 400-meter dash and also compete in the 4x400 relay. Freshmen high jumpers Cristobal Hurtago-Arteaga and Nick Medich will don garnet & gold for the first time, as will Maryland-Eastern Shore junior transfer Owen Cain, who will compete in the long jump and triple jump. Junior Stargell Williams, who starred at Tallahassee’s Chiles High, will make his FSU debut in the shot put after earning All-American honors at Coffeyville Community College.
Newcomers will also have a heavy presence for the FSU women, who are ranked 28th in the USTFCCCA preseason poll. Freshmen sprinters Der’Renae Freeman and Sierra Williams will debut in the 60-meter dash. Freeman will also compete in the long jump, while Williams will double up in the 200.
The field events will be laden with newcomers. Freshmen Grete Sadieko and Stacey Drilling are slated for action in the high jump, while classmates Hannah Acton, Anne Harwig and Karly Jackson will compete in the pole vault. Freshman Maryke Brits, the sister of sophomore Stefan Brits, will make join Freeman in the long jump just two weeks after arriving from her native home in South Africa. First-year Seminole Ewa Marcinkiewicz will compete in the triple jump and freshman Victoria Reiman will make her debut in the shot put.
Beyond the first-time competitors, the Seminoles will also get a look at a few athletes coming off inury-shortened 2012 seasons. Tremaine Grant returns to action in the 60-meter hurdles, while 2011 All-American Marecia Pemberton will compete in the 60-meter dash.
Of course, a handful of seasoned veterans will get their first chance to monitor their progress from a year ago, including 2012 All-American triple jumper Phillip Young and 2012 ACC Indoor and Outdoor Freshman of the Year Stephen Newbold (400-meter dash).
“It’s the first step in a long line of steps toward our goal,”Harnden said of the initial meet. “It’s a starting point.”