WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – A handful of Florida State track & field athletes produced quality performances as they hit the road this weekend to chase NCAA Indoor Championship qualifying marks in final tune-ups before next week’s ACC Championships.
On Saturday at the UCS Invitational, hosted by Wake Forest at the JDL Fast Track, Seminoles Jake Burton and Harry Mulenga turned in impressive performances, finishing first and second in the 800 and mile, respectively.
Burton, whose chase for an NCAA qualifying mark was marred by a lap two spill last week at Boston University, won in 1:50.086. Senior teammate Otniel Teixeira was third in 1:52.32.
With the generous conversion allowed for the performance on the 200-meter flat track, Burton’s time of 1:48.54 leaves him ranked 24th nationally on the descending order list in the event.
The top 16 in each event after next weekend will advance to the NCAA Indoor Championships, which means Burton – the defending ACC champion in the 800 – will have an opportunity to move up a couple notches when the conference meet is contested at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston, Mass.
Mulenga turned in a season-best time of 4:04.79 – No. 6 all-time among Seminoles – for his runner-up finish in the mile, with that mark converting to 4:01.71; good for 50th nationally.
“I was really pleased with Jake and Harry’s races today,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “Both convert to lifetime bests. They fought really hard to try and post a national qualifying mark and came up just short.
“Otniel got boxed in at the start and never really had a chance. All three will make a run at national qualifying at ACC’s next week.”
On Friday, FSU graduate student Sasha-Ann Lebert continued her gradual climb toward a NCAA qualifying mark, posting a lifetime-best performance for the fourth time this season in the weight throw at the Virginia Tech Challenge. Lebert’s top throw of 19.83 meters (65-0.75) – on her second throw of the competition – was good for a fourth-place finish in a loaded field.
Lebert, who ranks third in FSU history, has the No. 5 mark in the ACC this season and currently sits 33rd on the national descending order list, less than one meter off a national qualifying mark.
The Seminoles will depart of the ACC Indoor Championships on Tuesday, with the three-day competition set to begin Thursday.