Mae Gammino / SiunPhotos Bryce Kelley crosses the finish first in the 1,500 at the state meet in 2012.
WOOD RIVER Jct. - For Chariho High track All-American Bryce Kelley, there are no limits to him stepping up in class.
The Chargers’ senior cross country and track middle distance runner doesn’t stop with earning All-State or even All-New England honors that he achieved last weekend by finishing second in the New England’s mile run.
Kelley enters Nike or New Balance national meets to run against America’s best. As a junior during indoor track in 2012, he and three other Chargers made history, becoming the first from Rhode Island to establish a national track record in the 4x1-mile relay in New York.
Kelley will continue his quest against the best next season in college. Kelley will attend Florida State University and run for the Seminoles’ cross country and track teams, traditionally among the best in NCAA Division I.
FSU teams have won four NCAA titles (three straight from 2006 to 2008) under coach Rob Braman and 10 of the last 12 Atlantic Coast Conference indoor track titles.
“This is a big weight off my shoulders,” Kelley said. “I wanted to go to a big sports school. The overall strength of the track program and the interest in it drew me in. I won’t be the recruit with the best times there, but I’m looking forward to become a better runner and rise to the occasion against the best competition in the country.”
Braman lists Kelley as “a recruit” but cannot comment on him because of NCAA rules since he is an unsigned athlete. Kelley will receive money to attend FSU on the GI Bill. His father, Kevin, serves in the U.S. Air Force.
“My Dad lived in Tallahassee, Fla., and we have family in Florida, so I have no reservations about traveling that far away for college,” Kelley said. “It’s a big-time program, but whether it was the Big Ten, Pac 10, any major conference, I look forward to the competition. I don’t think it’s out of my league and by no means is it under my league.”
Florida State alumni comprised 12 track and field participants in the 2012 Summer Olympics. The Seminole record in the 1,500 is 3:34 and 10th on the all-time list is 3:45.On the FSU website, the scholarship standard for the 1,600 is 4:11 and walk-on standard is 4:17. In the 800, the scholarship time is ***JUMP***
1:51.7 and walk-on standard is 1:52.9.
Kelley, on the radar of the lofty walk-on standards, is entering elite company to be sure. FSU not only gets its pick of America’s best talent, it features sprinters from the Bahamas, a high jumper from Chile, a long jumper from South Africa and distance runners from England and the Czech Republic.
“I know I’ll have to become a better runner to become a potential cross country-track contributor,” Kelley said. “Florida State has an international roster.”
Kelley, who is considering a major in marketing, becomes the second Charger in as many years to enter an ACC program.
Mike Marsella, a 2012 grad who was Rhode Island’s Gatorade runner of the year, is currently red-shirting on the University of Virginia cross country-track and field teams.
In just three years, Kelley has transformed from track newcomer - he joined the Chariho indoor and outdoor teams as a sophomore - to All-American.
As a junior, he earned acclaim as part of Chariho’s “Four Horsemen.”
That decorated quartet of Dan Kilcoyne, Kelley, Jack Kilcoyne and Marsella formed the 4x1- mile relay at the 2012 New Balance Nationals in New York that turned in a national record time of 17:20.20.
The foursome later established a Rhode Island 4x800 record outdoors at the prestigious Penn Relays last spring and earned All-America status by finishing third in the 4x1-mile mile at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals.
The Four Horsemen led Chariho’s indoor track team to the state title, breaking Bishop Hendricken’s 17-year streak of state crowns in 2012.
Chariho’s outdoor track team finished second in the state meet with Westerly last June despite missing the services of Marsella, who had a cyst on his foot.
Individually, Kelley has accumulated numerous honors, including setting the Rhode Island indoor record in the 800 (1:54.65) with a second place at the Eastern States indoor championships last year in New York.
As a junior in outdoor track, Kelley won the 800 and 1,500 outdoor state championships and was second in the New England 1,600 (4:17.51).
During cross country last fall as a senior, Kelley placed second in Rhode Island, 13th in New England and seventh in the Nike Northeast Championship. The latter finish qualified him for the National Scholastic Championships where he placed 69th in Portland, Ore.
Kelley admits he hasn’t hit a peak since the 4x1 mile relay set the national record. He battled Lyme Disease during last year’s outdoor season, a sinus affliction during this year’s New Englands and an incredibly muddy course during the cross country nationals in Oregon.
His next big meet is the U.S. National Scholastic Track & Field Championships Sunday in New York.
“It will be my last run at the Armory, which has been a favorite track of mine,” Kelley said. “I’m looking to place high and have fun. Outdoors, I’m looking to do quality meets and help my team. Basically I want to be healthy and go for PRs (personal records). I’ve had a tough year for me, but the end goal is to go to national meets, and I’ve made it in cross country and indoor track. The bottom line is it’s nice to have my college choice in my back pocket. I’m looking forward to it.”