TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Marvin Bracy was fast. Florida State’s coaches saw that even during Bracy’s sophomore year of high school.
But they didn’t realize just how quick Bracy would make an impact at the college level.
The freshman from Orlando shattered the school’s 60-meter record with a sprint of 6.54 seconds on Feb. 9 in Arkansas. That’s faster than former FSU sprinters that competed in the Olympics, names like Walter Dix, Maurice Mitchell and Kemar Hyman. And Bracy’s time is the fastest this collegiate season and among the best in the world.
Bracy may just be a freshman but he is already showcasing his abilities on the track.
“He was good, but this is a surprise,” Florida State track and field coach Bob Braman said. “And the second meet he breaks a record. Yeah, that’s shocking. That’s shocking by anyone’s measuring stick.”
The only thing that has slowed down Bracy so far have been his hamstring injuries. He hurt one during his senior season at Orlando’s Boone High and then the other when he arrived in Tallahassee.
Hamstring injuries prevented the two-sport star from playing football in 2012, and the wide receiver was forced to take a redshirt. What’s frustrating about hamstrings is that the best option is to let them heal through rest. So that’s what Bracy did, and by the end of football season, he began to feel like his old self.
In January, he ripped off three blazing runs in the 60 with a best of 6.61 seconds. But on Feb. 9, he crossed the finish line at 6.54 seconds — just a hundredth of a second faster than Mitchell’s school record.
“I’m really excited and proud of what I’ve been doing and how I’m progressing,” Bracy said.
That’s what Bracy wants to see — progress. The record is significant to him, of course. But he’s more concerned with winning races — and eventually team titles later in the track season – than putting up a certain time.
Bracy has already set a handful of records before arriving at Florida State. In January 2012, he ran the 55 meters in 6.08 seconds at a meet in Gainesville — a time that was the fastest ever for a high school sprinter.
And his 100-meter personal best of 10.05 seconds is second among Florida high school sprinters to another two-sport standout: former University of Florida star Jeff Demps.
“Not to be arrogant, but it’s not new for me to break a record,” Bracy said. “This is something I’m used to. I didn’t go out and say, ‘OK, I’m going to break a record.’ It just happened. It’s not something I’m bragging about. I did it.
“It’s the start of something new. Hopefully I’ll break many more trying to execute races and not just running for times.”
Next up for Bracy is this weekend’s ACC Indoor Championships at Blacksburg, Va. Bracy will run the 60-meter prelims on Friday afternoon and then the finals on Saturday afternoon. Florida State has won the last three 60-meter events at the ACC indoors, with now graduated sprinters Mitchell winning in 2010 and ’11 and Hyman taking the title last year.
The biggest competition perhaps for Bracy right now is teammate Dentarius Locke, a Tampa native who sat out last season after transferring from Tennessee. Locke and Bracy have trained together at Florida State’s Mike Long Track, and so far Bracy has been just a fraction faster than Locke (whose best time this year in the 60 was 6.56 seconds).
And it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Bracy or Locke will challenge for the ACC 60-meter record of 6.51 in 2007 set by former Clemson football-track star Jacoby Ford.
Bracy has plenty of goals to achieve at Florida State. He’s already made quite an impression, but there is plenty of juggling ahead, too.
His plans include running track until the spring football season begins in mid-March. He will then focus on being a wide receiver through the spring game on April 13, and then it will be back to the track.
“I just want to finish healthy and come back out for football and then hopefully we get a ring (in track),” Bracy said.