June 9, 2006
Sacramento, Calif. – After a potentially disastrous 400m-relay preliminary, the top-ranked Florida State men’s track and field team has showed the adversity, talent and resilience that make them the favorite to win the team title at the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field at Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex.
The Seminoles scored points in the long jump yesterday, posted points in the discus today and could potentially score additional points in the 200m tomorrow to cover the projected eight points that the relay was expected to score. FSU is currently tied for 20th with seven points.
Entering the meet 17th, redshirt junior Garrett Johnson (Tampa, Fla./Tampa Baptist Academy) came up big on his final throw with a fifth place, four-point scoring performance with a mark of 187′ (56.99m).
“It just goes along with our team concept,” said co-captain Garrett Johnson. “When one person falls, we just pick each other up. I am just trying to score as many points as I can for the team.”
The 200m duo of Walter Dix (Coral Springs, Fla./Coral Springs) and rookie Michael Ray Garvin (Upper Saddle River, Fla./Don Bosco Prep) put together an impressive outing, advancing to the finals after running 20.50 and 20.75, respectively. While Dix is a favorite in the event, Garvin, one of the top returning backs on the Seminole football team, was a long shot entering the meet with the 18th-fastest time in the group.
“I just ran hard and made sure I stay focused and relax in order to make it,” said Garvin. “It helps having Walt because he was pulling me through the whole race so I just tried to keep up. He just keeps telling me to relax, stay focused and just run.”
Having another teammate, or family member, as Dix refers to the rest of the FSU group, fuels the NCAA Indoor 200m Champion to be successful. He also ran with junior Greg Bolden (Morrow, Ga./Albany State) in the 60m finals during the indoor season.
“(Having Michael make the final) was great,” said Dix, immediately after posting the fastest mark in the second heat. “He cleaned up after the relay. He wasn’t expected to make finals by a lot but today he comes in and makes finals and helps us out when we made mistakes earlier in the meet. It just shows the type of character he has to go through that and come back. That’s what the football team needs and the track team needs and we’re lucky to have him on our team.”
Senior Rafeeq Curry (Miami, Fla./ACE Academy), who put the first team points on the board yesterday in the long jump, finally got the chance to do what he came to do for the last time in his Seminole career. On Friday afternoon, the eight-time All-American qualified for the preliminary round of the triple jump posting the farthest jump of the group at 52’3.75″ (15.94m). The top-rated and ranked triple jumper in the country hit the mark on his second jump, although his first jump of 52’0.75″ (15.87m) would have secured the top spot as well.
“I wasn’t satisfied with my distance,” said Curry. “My main thing was to get back to the finals and I’m satisfied with that. I’d rather jump well tomorrow and jump garbage today. I do feel different going into the final. You can’t help but think about the team title, you can’t erase that out of your mind.”
Fellow jumper Alyce Williams (Palm Coast, Fla./George Mason) also advanced to the triple jump preliminary with the third farthest overall mark of 43’5″ (13.23m) in the opening round. She entered the event with the 13th-farthest jump in the nation.
“A lot of people weren’t jumping their best,” said Williams, an indoor All-American from 2003. “We were jumping into a head wind that kind of hurt people. Add to that (some competitors) did two rounds of long jump. I used that to my benefit and jumped as best as I could to make it through.”
“Alyce was fantastic, her making the final in the triple jump is amazing,” said head coach Bob Braman.
In the men’s races, sophomore Ricardo Chambers (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer) posted his fastest time of the season, running 44.98 in the semifinals of the 400m. He led all runners in his heat and moves onto the finals for the second time in two years.
“I didn’t want to go off time, I just wanted to win my heat and get through” commented Chambers. “I was coming home pretty quickly so I just eased back and tried to save some for tomorrow. I feel not 100 percent but I feel fast enough to get it.”
In the women’s 200m, Evelyne-Cynthia Niako (Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson) finished in the top 16 in the nation, running 23.77 in the semifinals.
“(Niako) had a monster meet at regions,” continued Braman. “She made it to the semifinals here and we felt like she was going to make it through to the finals. McColumn also made it close and she might be All-American. They both did a good job.”
Fellow senior LaKendra McColumn (Lithonia, Ga./Southwest Dekalb) concluded a standout four-year career at FSU, finishing four spots out of the 400m hurdles finals with a time of 58.08. The mark was the second fastest of her career and could put her in position for All-American honors as one of the top eight runners from the United States.
Sophomore Elliott Wood (Sydney, Australia/Narrabean Sports) crossed the tape seventh in his heat in 51.10.
The final day of competition starts tomorrow at 11:45 a.m. with redshirt senior Lacy Janson (Sarasota, Fla./Cardinal Mooney) in the women’s pole vault. Johnson is next at 12:30 p.m. in the men’s shot put followed by Curry and Williams in the triple jump final at 12:30 p.m.
On the running side, the meet starts for Florida State with the 100m final at 12:42 p.m., followed by the men’s 400m at 1:20 p.m., the men’s 200m at 1:40 p.m., the women’s and men’s 1500m at 1:52 p.m. and 2:04 p.m. and the final race, the 3000m steeplechase at 2:20 p.m.
Watch the meet live on CBS from 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time
For updated information and results, please visit www.seminoles.com.