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Cunningham enjoys a second national title, prepares for busy summer

Trey Cunningham can smile, critique his performance and celebrate. He is a very rare NCAA champion in the same event, the hurdles, but two different disciplines when considering the disparity in distances of the indoor and outdoor seasons.

“You can go back, even last year, the person who won indoor (LSU’s Damion Thomas) didn’t win outdoor, so it’s pretty special to do that,” Cunningham said on Wednesday, returning to FSU for training. “They are two totally different races, 60 meters indoors and 110 outdoors, and it’s really easy to run five hurdles. It’s not easy to run 10. So I just think it’s testament to what we put in on the track and see it come to fruition.”

Cunningham said he enjoyed a final lap around historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., last week as he soaked up the energy from the crowd of track fans. FSU coach Bob Braman has often called it the “revenge tour” after Cunningham was hampered by an injury last season. All Cunningham did was go undefeated in indoor and outdoor competition in 2022.

He is among the most accomplished FSU track athletes in program history but he’s also quick to point out that he’s not going anywhere. A two-time national champion and among the world’s best (current and all-time) in the hurdles, Cunningham now sets his attention on training ahead of the USA Track and Field Championships on June 25 (prelims) and June 26 (finals). The world championships are also to follow in mid-July.

“It’s a quick sport,” Cunningham said. “It’s quick raises. So you just got to move on to the next one.”

Braman said he thinks Cunningham has elevated the profile of hurdles — an event of technique and speed — and helped make it a marquee event on the national stage. With it could come a lucrative pro career, Braman said.