GREENSBORO, N.C. - There are no champions crowned at the NCAA East Preliminary track & field meet, which begins Thursday and runs through Saturday at the Irwin Bell Track on the campus of North Carolina A&T, yet it is one of the most important meets of the year for the Florida State program.
The three-day affair takes the top 48 athletes east of the Mississippi River in individual events and top 24 relay teams and pares the field to 12 qualifiers in each for the June 6-8 NCAA Championship meet at the University of Oregon.
Florida State coach Bob Braman and his staff measure success by NCAA Championships, both individually and collectively, and the 2013 Seminoles have ample firepower to make some noise on the big stage.
The Seminoles have qualified 35 athletes for the East Preliminary meet – 18 women and 17 men. Among them are 12 entries on the men’s side and eight on the women’s side who are seeded among the top 12 in their respective events.
“I feel good about where we are,” Braman said. “I feel good about this group, whether they’re new or whatever, because I this meet is a lot like the challenge that faced us at ACC’s. The ACC challenge was, ‘Ok, if we’re going to have any chance to win, we’re going to have to be at our best.’ If those athletes at this meet are at their best, the majority ares getting through [to the NCAA Championship]. The people that we have projected to be national scorers or national qualifiers are all in a really good situation.”
Among those in best position to advance are top seeds James Harris (400 meters), Michael Fout (10,00 meters) and Zak Seddon (steeplechase) for the sixth-ranked Seminole men. The 17th-ranked FSU women don’t have a top seed in any event, but Amanda Winslow (1500) and Colleen Quigley (steeplechase) are seeded second in their respective events.
Seddon, the ACC steeplechase champion and the No. 2 seed nationally entering the postseason, is one of eight FSU freshmen who have qualified for the meet. Morne Moolman, the ACC runner-up in the javelin, is seeded fourth in the East and No. 7 nationally. Among the first-year Seminole women competing, Kellion Knibb is the No. 3 seed in the discus (No. 7 nationally), while Georgia Peel is the No. 6 seed in the 1500 and Sage Watson is the No. 10 seed in the 400 hurdles.
“I’m not concerned about how they’ll handle it,” Braman said of his youngsters, all of whom have significant big meet experience at the junior level. “Our kids are hungry to get after it. They’re dying to get back out there to see how much better than they were at the ACC meet, when they were very good.”