• Florida State’s Ka’Tia Seymour takes off from the blocks during the NCAA East Regionals at the University of North Florida last week. (KERRY DUNNING / Special To The Daily News)

A Sprinter’s Story

Former PHS, current FSU star Seymour continues to work on being best

JACKSONVILLE – Ka’Tia Seymour lives in a world where one one-hundredth of a second is a measure of success.

A sprinter must explode out of the starting block, transition to a very controlled running position, and have enough left to finish fast. The runner’s energy or the push of a competitor keeps moving the personal best by fractions of a second.

If all goes well, it means championships. Seymour spent three days at the NCAA Eastern Regionals at the University of North Florida to once again earn a trip to nationals.

It hasn’t been a one-time accomplishment.

The Florida State University sophomore put together one of the finest prep careers in Florida history, winning the 100- and 200-meter FHSAA 2A championships in back-to-back years and helping anchor the Palatka High 4x100 relay team to a state title in 2016. Those five championships she earned are still the only five Palatka High has ever won in its girls track and field history. She was the 2016 Gatorade Girls Track Athlete of the Year.

Seymour parlayed her success into a scholarship to Florida State. “It’s pretty awesome to be a ‘Nole. I always wanted to be a ‘Nole,” she said. “I always wanted to be able to run in college and go professional, so hopefully my next step is going pro.”

Oh yeah, written into those childhood dreams is now a possibility of a Summer Olympics.

In her freshman season in Tallahassee, Seymour broke an FSU 32-year-old 100-meter dash record (11.13) on her way to the best FSU freshman sprint season in school history. In 2018, she was an NCAA Indoor Championships qualifier in the 60- and 200-meter dashes. After her sixth-place finish in the 200 final (23.01), Seymour was named first-team all-American. She finished the outdoor season as an NCAA championship qualifier in three events (100, 200, and 4x100 relay). She ran a personal-best 22.74, the third best in FSU history, earning second-team all-American honors. She was also named ACC Freshman of the year.

No sophomore jinx has slowed her up. She captured third in the 60-meter dash running 7.19 in the NCAA final. That time matched a record set by former NCAA champion and Olympian Michelle Finn. At the Atlantic Coast Conference meet, Seymour was named MVP for the second consecutive year after winning the 60- and 200-meter titles.

In the ACC outdoor championships, she was named MVP again after winning the 100 and 200 and contributing to the 4x100 relay that finished second – by a split second. All three events led to Seymour qualifying for the NCAA Eastern Regionals this weekend at UNF.

“It is very mentally tough, mostly because running against girls, we’d really never raced like that, we’d never seen each other, so it was weird just going against them in the competition,” Seymour said. “But it also helped me mentally and physically because I was able to relax and just concentrate on myself and execute my race.”

It’s not an easy schedule. The 100 had one round scheduled Thursday, followed by the nationals qualifying round on Friday. About an hour and a half later, Seymour ran the first 200-meter heat.

Seymour summed it up saying, “The 100 was mostly focusing on the start and getting out and doing what usually I do to finish my race. The 200, it wasn’t as good as it was supposed to be, but it will be corrected tomorrow.

On Saturday she’d correct the minute issues and qualify for nationals in the 200.

“I am super happy, mostly because the 100 is my dominant race and I’m really happy to go back to nationals again, and to be able to get another chance at winning the championship,” she said.. “Mostly the 200, I’m just trying to get better at it honestly.”

She waited a bit, then ran the second leg of the 4x100 relay – that squad also qualifying for nationals.

Back to that one one-hundredth difference in being in the top three in the country or missing out, the changes a sprinter makes are not seen by the naked eye – unless you are the sprinter or her coach.

What comes next?

“I just need to work mostly transitioning because I have my top-end speed and know how to finish,” she said. “The key to the 200 is getting out of the blocks, riding the curve the way I need to, and once I ride that correctly it should slingshot me off the curve, and I should be able to finish as strong as possible.”

Two weeks until FSU leaves for Austin.

Ka’Tia Seymour knows what she must do.

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