Cunningham named to Bowerman watch list

Florida State junior hurdler Trey Cunningham joins a distinguished list of Seminole greats with his selection to The Bowerman 2020 Preseason Watch List, released Tuesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

Cunningham, a three-time, first-team All-American and nation’s fastest returnee in both the 60- and 110-meter hurdles, is one of 10 men on the initial watch for The Bowerman, the highest honor bestowed to collegiate track & field’s most outstanding athletes of the year.

The Winfield, Ala. native is the sixth Florida State men’s track & field athlete to appear on the watch list in the 12-year history of the award, which is named after former University of Oregon coach Bill Bowerman and presented each December by the USTFCCCA.

Former Seminole sprints/jumps great Ngoni Makusha won The Bowerman in 2011, and was joined on previous watch lists by FSU standouts Charles Clark (2011), Maurice Mitchell (2012), James Harris (2014) and Andre Ewers (2019).

“We knew from day 1 that Trey was a special athlete,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “Being a national high school record-holder, he came right in and competed like he belonged. For two years in that role he’s been chasing the Nos. 1-2 all-time hurdlers. 

“While Trey has no problem competing against those guys on an Olympic, national or international scale, he probably wouldn’t say it but he’s probably glad to be in the lead spot. ‘Ok, now it’s my time.’…I’m excited for him.”

Cunningham opens the 2020 indoor season Saturday at Clemson’s Orange & Purple Elite meet owning the nation’s top-returning 60-meter hurdle time of 7.53 from last season. That time gave him a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference and Florida State records with former NCAA champion Drew Brunson. He won his second consecutive ACC Indoor title in a meet record time of 7.64.

Cunningham went on to finish third at the NCAA Indoor Championships, behind Florida’s Grant Holloway – the 2019 winner of The Bowerman – and Kentucky’s Daniel Roberts. That duo finished 1-2 at the NCAA Outdoor Championships

Cunningham’s 2019 110-meter hurdles personal-best of 13.47 tops all returnees nationally, though he season was cut short by an injury, which contributed to him being unable to advance from the NCAA East Preliminary to the NCAA Championships.

“The only hiccup he’s had is being injured there late in the [2019] outdoor season,” Braman said. “He’s never been this fit, this early and healthy and ready to go. He’s excited. For Trey, June can’t get here fast enough.”

As a freshman for the Noles in 2018, the IAAF World U20 60-meter hurdles record-holder while a senior at Winfield City High School finished sixth at the NCAA Indoor Championships and fourth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

He figures to be a key piece as the Noles chase ACC and NCAA team titles for both the men and the women in 2020, indoors and outdoors.

“We’re happy to have Trey on the watch list and he’s certainly earned it, but we think we’re going to have a couple other people on it,” Braman said. “Kasaun James and Ka’Tia Seymour will be Bowerman-like candidates as the season unfolds.”

James and Seymour are two of the nation’s top returning sprinters nationally. James was second at the NCAA Indoor Championships in the 200-meter dash and eighth in the 60, while Seymour was third in the 60 at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

Cunningham is joined on the The Bowerman preseason watch list by Devin Dixon (Texas A&M), Gleb Dudarev (Kansas), Johannes Erm (Georgia), Quincy Hall (South Carolina), JuVaughn Harrison (LSU), Oliver Hoare (Wisconsin), Cengetayi Mapaya (TCU), Chris Nilsen (South Dakota) and Trevor Stewart (North Carolina A&T).

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