TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – It’s “last chance” weekend and that means the Florida State men’s and women’s indoor track & field teams are splitting up chasing marks that will earn them spots in next week’s NCAA Indoor Championships.
Five Seminoles will compete Saturday at Notre Dame’s Alex Wilson Invitational, while three others are in Fayetteville, Ark., home of next week’s championship meet, trying to make sure they have clear paths to the biggest indoor meet of the season.
Only the top 16 athletes in each event – and the top 12 relay teams - based on times or marks in the national database, will be on hand at the Randall Tyson Track Complex for the NCAA Indoor Championships. Florida State is virtually assured of representation, given several outstanding performances to date.
Freshman sprinter Marvin Bracy is ranked No. 1 in the nation in the 60-meter dash (6.54), while junior teammate Dentarius Locke comes in with the No. 2 national ranking (6.56).
Senior Amanda Winslow leads the Seminoles’ stellar women’s distance crew, as she is locked in at No. 5 in the mile (4:33.22) and sits, somewhat precariously, at No. 13 in the 3000 meter run (9:08.13). Winslow was also part of FSU’s Distance Medley Relay team, which cranked out the second-fastest time (10:57.41) of the season – and 12th all-time nationally – on the way to their ACC Championship meet record last weekend at Virginia Tech. Winslow has choices to make, but it’s certain that freshman Sage Watson, freshman Georgia Peel and sophomore Colleen Quigley will compete in the DMR at the championship meet. Senior Jessica Parry will also be a part of the Seminoles’ relay pool.
Fortunately, none of the Seminole women’s distance runners will have to travel to compete this weekend.
James Harris, who matched a Florida State and ACC Championship meet record in the high jump with a winning leap of 2.23 meters (7-3.75) in his Seminole debut, checks in tied for 12th on the NCAA list. Harris has very little wiggle room as ties for the final spot in the field (16) are broken by the next-best performance on the year. That leaves the Mississippi State transfer looking for a strong showing at Notre Dame to seal his first NCAA Indoor appearance.
There’s less certainty among a handful of other ‘Noles, most of whom are competing.
Sophomore Stefan Brits enters the final weekend of qualifying with season-best long jump mark of 7.72m (25-4), which currently ranks 14th on the national list. Brits, who is coming off a brilliant series in his runner-up finish at the ACC Championship, would feel a lot more comfortable about earning his first NCAA Championship berth with a mark of 7.80 at Arkansas.
Another sophomore, sprinter Stephen Newbold, cranked out a career-best 200-meter dash performance of 20.90 to claim the ACC title at Virginia Tech. Newbold also ranks 14th and could stand to shave a few hundredths off his time to be assured of making the cut.
Junior transfer Anne Zagre finished third at the ACC Championship in 60-meter hurdles with a season-best time of 8.21, which currently ranks 14th nationally. Zagre, who has only a handful of competitive rounds since representing Belgium at the 2012 London Olympics, will try to strengthen that standing at Notre Dame on Saturday morning.
Marecia Pemberton is on the outside looking in with her season-best 60-meter dash time of 7.37, which ranks tied for 26th. Pemberton will likely need to post a time of 7.33 at Notre Dame Saturday morning to climb into the top 16.
Freshman long jumper Maryke Brits has even more work to do. She currently ranks 41st among Division I athletes with a lifetime best of 6.10m (20-0.25), while the No. 16 spot entering the weekend is a leap of 6.24m.
Likewise, senior pole vaulter Andrew LaHaye cleared 5.31 meters (17-5) to finish second at the ACC Championship meet, but his indoor career best is still .10 behind the current four-way tie for 15th place. That means LaHaye will likely have to clear 5.42m at Arkansas to earn a return trip.
Junior Alonzo Russell, whose season-best 47.06 400-meter dash time led the ACC most of the season, will need a big breakthrough on the flat, 300-meter oval at Notre Dame. Russell ranks 42nd on the 400-meter list, where the 16th and final qualifying time entering the weekend is 46.55.
Another junior, Phillip Young, will not compete this weekend. He is currently in the field of NCAA Championship qualifiers in the triple jump with his season-best mark of 15.89m (52-1.75) ranked 13th.