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FSU’s Cunningham clearing hurdles, faster than anyone

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Trey Cunningham fell in love with track and field in middle school, following a cousin out to practice.

Everyone in the family played a sport at some point in their life, including his mother, who ran track and played basketball. Cunningham was fast. But running, just for the sake of running fast, didn’t hold a strong appeal.

The seventh-grader who described himself as tiny but also felt he had always been flexible gravitated toward the hurdles, an event his aunt once competed in.

“I finally grew up and it got easier,” Cunningham said. “I liked it because I see sprinting as kind of boring because anyone can sprint but not everyone can have the technicality and skill to step over a 42-inch barrier and sprint at the same time.”

Technicality and skill at the hurdles are Cunningham’s forte. No one in the nation (or world) does it better than Cunningham, who has a time of 7.57 in the 60-meter hurdles and is on the watch list for a prestigious honor, The Bowerman. Cunningham will look to improve on that time at this weekend’s Texas Tech Invitational, where he will compete in the hurdles Friday evening.

Cunningham said he is happy with his times but when asked if he takes pride in having the top time in the nation, he has an intriguing reply: “I don’t like to be a prideful person. That’s one of humanity’s worst qualities.” A mature comment, to say the least. Cunningham though feels self-motivated as well as thankful for the trust and support of teammates as he continues with his junior season.

While Cunningham is reluctant to praise himself, coach Bob Braman and the FSU staff saw the skill in Cunningham early.

“We knew from day 1 that Trey was a special athlete,” Braman said. “Being a national high school record-holder, he came right in and competed like he belonged.”

A native of Winfield, Ala., Cunningham chose FSU because he wanted to be in the South but also saw the appeal of the school and not just the track program. He’s majoring in public relations and thinks he will work in communications after his track career.

So how does a PR major feel about the coverage of track and field?

“I think they can actually push track and field more than they do,” Cunningham said. “I know what gets the views, what gets the ratings, but most of all sports started with track and field, you have to run in every sport. You had to throw. In Europe they called it athletics … These are feats that not a normal human can do.”

Cunningham and his teammates are helping FSU gain attention, though. The Seminoles men are ranked No. 1 in the coaches’ association (USTFCCCA) ratings index. Caleb Parker is No. 2 in the nation in the 60-meter hurdles as well as No. 9 in the high jump.

On the women’s team, among the top sprinters are Jaylan Kirkland (third nationally) and Ka’Tia Seymour (eighth nationally) in the 60 meters. They will also be pursuing NCAA Indoor qualifying marks in the 200 meters on Saturday.

FSU has also been successful in the jumps. Led by long jumpers Isaac Grimes (7.96m/26-1.75), Fabian Edoki (7.77m/25-6), Jeremiah Davis (7.64m/25-0.75) and Darius Clark (7.64m/25-0.75) the Seminoles rank 2, 7 and tied for 15th nationally. Grimes, Edoki and Clark are also competing at Texas Tech.

At the Indiana University Relays, two-time NCAA Indoor Championships mile-run qualifier Kasey Knevelbaard will compete in that event for the first time this weekend. The grad transfer, who owns a personal-best 3:58.54, anchored FSU’s nation-leading distance medley relay with a 1,600-meter split of 3:58 last weekend at Clemson.

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