The Florida State men and women's track and field teams are confident their growth and experience will take them far during this week's NCAA championships in Austin, Texas.
The women are looking for their first podium finish since placing fourth in 2009 and this year have numbers to realize their goal with 11 qualified athletes, breaking the previous school record of 10.
Sophomore Ka'Tia Seymour, who is competing in the 100- and 200-meter dash, saw success last season, placing fourth in the 200.
Seymour said it's an honor to help set the qualifying record and hopes the team can bring home gold.
"It's awesome just knowing that you a part of helping to go win a championship," she said. "If we get the chance to win, that's going to be an amazing feeling knowing me and my teammates came together and did what we had to do to win a championship."
This year, the third-ranked Seminoles have a dominant ACC championship performance energizing them. FSU finished the ACC championship meet with 134 points, 41.5 more than the second place finisher. The margin and point total was the largest since 2014.
The distance runners led by Militsa Mircheva, Maudie Skyring and Megan Mooney scored 16 points to boost the championship effort.
As strong as they've been, Seymour said nothing but strong delivery in Austin can help them.
"It's anybody's race," she said. "Once you get to the finals, it's what you do on that day no matter what you've done all season. You're capable of doing anything. Placing fourth in the 200 last year made things more understandable that I'm able to go out there and win it if I can, if I want to."
Deja Bush, who was on the national title softball team last season and just wrapped up an NCAA softball super regionals appearance, will be competing in the 4x100. Seymour said having someone with championship experience, even in a different sport, helps.
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"Just from softball being ranked at No. 8, I believe, last year and come out winning it, [Bush] basically just let us know that we could do it, too. We're all capable of something and it just motivates us more," Seymour said.
Andre Ewers is one of the four FSU men competing this week, focusing on the 200-meter dash and 4x100. He said the women's success this season has been inspiring.
"The whole team feeds of each other and I'm honestly proud of the women," he said. "They have stepped up a lot since last year and dominated all year, staying consistent, especially at the ACC meet, to score the highest points ever in an ACC Championship meet. There's no other way that could've gone to make that any more spectacular. They all showed up and did an amazing job. ... Me being at the meet and seeing where they scored points at, that kind of drives me even more to do what I'm doing and to take care of my part."
Ewers missed qualifying last season by less than half a second, but he bounced back this year. At the ACC Championship, he swept the 100- and 200-meter titles for the second consecutive year, becoming the first Seminole to repeat the double and just the third in ACC history.
He said his 4-year old son Aiden is his primary driving force, but he said he had extra motivation heading into the championships after the death of his grandfather.
"I get motivated by the fact that I have a son, but more importantly, my grandfather passed away back in February and I dedicated that to him. So I had this drive and I was doing it with a purpose and I was willing to make history. ... Those things drive me, when I'm doing that for the people I love."
Ewers said he's looking forward to the performance of Orlando native and Colonial High grad Armani Wallace in this year's meet. Wallace competed last year, but he wasn't 100% healthy and didn't score any points. He said the experience forced him to train smarter during the offseason.
"It was a lot of staying on top of rehab and a lot of doing things on my own that I wasn't quite used to," Wallace said. "When you get to a certain level of athleticism, you have to start taking care of your body better than you were before when you were at a lower level of athleticism."
He will compete in the triple jump this year and said he's trying to stay even keeled. The Seminoles come into the meet ranked 28th and Wallace said the only number that matters is the one on the stand at the end of the meet.
"Someone can come in the meet ranked fifth and win. That's just how our sport is," he said. "You can never look at rankings, you just look at can we compete at the highest level. Can we do what we need to do in order to score? And if we do, we do, and if we don't, we don't. Let the chips fall where they may. We're going to go out there and give it 100%, 110 percent at that."
This article is written by Chaunte'L Powell from The Orlando Sentinel and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.