TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The annual Seminole Invitational Track & Field meet is usually a low-key affair, primarily used as a training event in Florida State’s preparation for the Atlantic Coast Conference outdoor championships.
That won’t be the case Friday and Saturday at Mike Long Track, where a number of the Seminoles top athletes will be in action. The two-day meet, which begins Friday at 3 p.m. with field events, is FSU’s last chance to tune up for next week’s ACC Outdoor Championships in Chapel Hill, N.C.
“Right now we’re in a state of high awareness,” FSU head coach Bob Braman said. “This is high-alert for us because we’ve had people hurt and we’re getting people healthy. We’re not just going into the conference meet and roll our people out and hope it’s good enough.
“This is a really, really critical weekend for us to compete hard and stay healthy; come out of it and be ready for the conference meet. This probably is the most critical – performance-wise - Seminole Invite since I’ve been here.”
The plan was to bring those athletes who competed at the March 14-15 NCAA Indoor Championships along slowly, preparing them for the long haul – the June 11-14 NCAA Outdoor Championships. As a result, very few of those athletes who delivered a fourth-place national finish for the men indoors, have competed in their top individual track events.
All-Americans Dentarius Locke and James Harris, who competed on relay teams at last week’s Crimson Tide Invitational, will make their individual track event debuts on Saturday in the 200-meter dash. Harris, however, will help get the meet started Friday afternoon in the men’s high jump. The NCAA Indoor champion and school record-holder opened up last week with a leap of 7-3.
Freshman standout and 4x400 All-American Michael Cherry, who has been nursing an minor injury, will also compete on Saturday in the 400-meter dash.
The Seminole coaching staff also hopes to see some marked improvement from athletes who have competed on a limited basis thus far outdoors, including 2013 NCAA Outdoor qualifier Anne Zagre and freshman Nicole Setterington in the 100-meter hurdles. Freshman sensation Kali Davis-White, who was shut down during the indoor season due to injury, will compete in the 200-meter dash. Both of those races are on Saturday as well.
In addition to Harris, Friday’s competition will also give the coaches a chance to evaluate the development of several other field event performers. Freshmen Chadrick DaCosta and Austin Droogsma will compete in the discus (3 p.m.), as well sophomore school record-holder Kellion Knibb. ACC indoor long jump champions Paul Madzivire and Der’Renae Freeman will also be in the lineup.
Saturday’s competition, which begins with the hammer throw featuring Markindey Sineus and Briana Cherry-Bronson, begins at 10 a.m. Women’s school record shot putter Chelsea Whalen will compete as well.
Even women’s distance coach Karen Harvey will unleash her top performers – Colleen Quigley, Linden Hall and Georgia Peel - in the 1500, which is set for 3:35 p.m.
“We’ve always said that in the indoor track season is poison, so if you try to do really good indoors you pay for it outdoors,” Braman said. “We did very good indoors; as good as we’ve been in a few years, and of course we’re paying a little bit of that price.”
“Now we’re on the way back, probably not as good as we hope to be in June, but we’ve got to be ready because everybody else is going to be ready in a week. We’ve got to be at our best. I’m not pessimistic. I feel like we’re going to be pretty good, but we’ve got to come out and get it done.”
After sweeping the ACC Indoor men’s and women’s titles just six weeks ago, the Seminoles hope this weekend’s sharpening leads to another sweep next week on the North Carolina campus. The men figure to be challenged by the host Tar Heels, who are led by long-time former Seminole assistant Harlis Meaders, and Notre Dame. FSU’s women, who are aiming to complete the ACC’s Triple Crown – cross country, indoor and outdoor titles in the same season – should also be pushed by Duke, North Carolina and Notre Dame.
There is no admission charge to the Seminole Invitational and fans can monitor the action via Twitter @FSU_Track and check back on Seminoles.com for daily updates.