The final qualifying performance of the day came from redshirt senior James Rhoden. Appearing in his first NCAA quarterfinal in the 400-meter hurdles, Rhoden qualified on time in 50.89 – just off his personal-best – and joins six other qualifiers from the ACC. It was a sweet payoff for taking last season off to focus on completing his engineering degree and build his strength.
“I knew that if I took an extra year off and came back my fifth year I’d have a greater chance of getting better and making it to where I am now,” said Rhoden, who five years ago was a walk-on wide receiver with the FSU football team.
As for his breakthrough performance on the big stage for the first time, Rhoden found vindication.
“I’m very excited, but that was just part of plan,” he said. “I knew I could do it. It was just a matter of doing it. So it’s not a surprise I did it, I’m just happy that I did.”
“For a guy that’s a self-made elite hurdler now…he just doesn’t have the fear,” Braman said. “He’s out there running against guys he’s not supposed to run with. It’s really exciting to see a kid do that. He sets a good example for everybody else.”
As examples go, Helps had one more to leave on the track before the final day of competition. She bounced back from her 100-meter disappointment to automatically qualify for the 200-meter quarterfinals, placing second in her heat in 23.36.
“The only thing we might have missed on the last two days was Shauna in the 100, and I feel like she did so much work for us at conference that she was just a little bit sluggish and that can’t happen in the 100,” Braman said. “But she looked liked Shauna in the 200, because that’s her event. Whether it’s her favorite event doesn’t matter now because I think she’s a sub-23 tomorrow.”
With inclement weather in the forecast, Saturday’s schedule will get started earlier than originally scheduled with Armani Wallace, Montel Nevers and Ashton Butler getting things started in the triple jump at 1 p.m., followed by Emmanuel Onyia and Chad DaCosta in the discus at 2 and Ed’Ricus Williams in the men’s high jump at 3. Grange will tackle the women’s shot put at 6.
On the track, the men’s 4×100 relay will be up first (6:15 p.m.), followed by Michael Hall in the 1500 (6:45), the women’s 100-meter hurdles and 200. Carmela Cardama Baez will race in the 5000-meter run at 8:05 and the men’s 4×400 relay will close out the meet.
The SEC Network+ will provide live streaming coverage, Friday beginning at 6 p.m. and available here http://es.pn/2qwBso2