May 26, 2017 - by
Discus Trio Leads Seven More To NCAA Championships

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Cashing in on seven of 10 NCAA Championship-qualifying opportunities and advancing all four first-round competitors on the track to Saturday’s quarterfinals, the Florida State track & field teams enjoyed a banner day at the NCAA East Preliminary.

Led by qualifying trio of women’s discus throwers on a sun-splashed Friday at the University of Kentucky Track Complex, the Seminoles pushed their two-day total of NCAA Championships qualifiers to nine with

Melissa-Maree Farrington already booked for the trip to Eugene, Ore. in the heptathlon.

“It’s a pretty good day beyond the numbers, and the numbers don’t lie,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “The people that didn’t make it weren’t favorites and were trying to upset the odds…We had personal-bests and near personal-bests throughout. It’s about as good a day you could hope to have and be in as good a position as you could be going into tomorrow.”

The Seminoles will ride a wave of moment into Saturday, where they willhave 15 more qualifying opportunities.

One year after throws coach Dorian Scott sent two Seminoles to the championships in the discus for the first time, his trio of Jamaican countrywomen raised the bar. Kellion Knibb, the graduate student and 2016 NCAA runner-up, will be joined by redshirt junior Gleneve Grange and freshman Shanice Love, each of whom were competing in the NCAA postseason for the first time.

Discus Trio Leads Seven More To NCAA Championships

Love, who came into the competition as the No. 18 seed, emerged from the second of three flights with the third-best mark (53.16 meters/174-6). Then she nervously had to wait out the final flight, comprised of the top 16 throwers, to learn her fate.

“I was actually watching it and I was talking to my friend back home in Jamaica who was watching the results, too,” Love said. “I was so nervous. I was more nervous when the bigger girls started to throw, knowing that they could knock me out.”

Grange led off the final flight with an opening throw of 56.24 meters (184-6), which not only sealed her spot, but stood up as the top mark of the day. Demonstrating the poise of a veteran, Knibb overcame an opening foul by safely qualifying with a second attempt of 54.56m (190-0).

When the final results were tabulated, Love hung on to the 12th and final qualifying spot and celebrated by hugging her teammates, coach and support staff.

“By the grace of God, I’m in,” Love said. “I wanted a birthday gift because nationals are on my birthday and I used it as motivation.”

Knibb was clearly happy to be a part of FSU’s historic qualifying trio in the event.

“It feels good because I feel like we achieved one of the hardest things for this season, going to nationals together as a group,” Knibb said. “We’ve been working hard together as a group. This solidifies the entire year.”

“I’m so happy that Shanice made it,” Grange said. “It’s her first year and it’s also my first year, so it’s a good experience for all three of us to do it this year with Kellion leaving. I’m excited. I’m excited, but I’ve got to focus on shot put tomorrow.”

Before the Noles could lock in another national qualifier, the trio of women’s 100-meter hurdlers – Peta-Gay Williams, Cortney Jones and Nicole Setterington – handled their business in the first round. All three were automatic qualifiers to Saturday’s quarterfinals as Jones (13.12) and Setterington (13.38) finished 1-3 in heat 3, and Williams raced off with the heat 5 win in 13.02.

“The hurdles ladies were all business-like,” Braman said. “Coach [Brandon] Hon had them well-prepared, yet not overly anxious. Very clean for all three. We might be able to match the discus and get three through to Nationals as well.”

Discus Trio Leads Seven More To NCAA Championships

The national qualifiers came fast and furious from there.

Sophomore Shaquania Dorsett, making her first NCAA postseason appearance, punched her ticket with a lifetime-best 400-meter performance. Running out of lane 8 in the opening heat, the Bahamian powered through the final turn and up the front stretch to finish second in 52.13, obliterating her previous best of 52.50.

“I’m extremely happy right now because my one goal was to go out there and execute my race, which is what I actually did,” Dorsett said. “I think I actually ran the 400 right for the first time…On the homestretch I was telling myself, ‘You have to make it. You have to make it, just keep going.’ It was close and I pulled through.”

“She destroyed her lifetime best and left no doubt about qualifying,” Braman marveled. “That’s a wonderful redemption for her after ending last year in injury.”

Discus Trio Leads Seven More To NCAA Championships

“Eleonora had a real gut-check,” Braman said. “She was feeling weak and ill and kept her focus to secure her spot to Nationals. That’s a great experience to have going forward.”

By clearing 1.79 meters (5-10.5), Omoregie is headed back to Eugene for the first time since the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships, where she didn’t perform up to her standards as one of the pre-meet favorties.

“I wasn’t feeling good at all,” Omoregie said. “I’m happy to have made the final, but I’m not happy with the height, but it’s just about getting to the final and having the opportunity in Eugene…I want to go back because I have something to prove again. I want to take this opportunity to change the outcome.”

Discus Trio Leads Seven More To NCAA Championships

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.

You can keep pace with the Noles via Twitter @FSU_Track, or by following the live results at:
http://www.ncaa.com/ncaa-division-i-east-preliminary-round-0

The SEC Network+ will provide live streaming coverage, Friday beginning at 6 p.m. and available here http://es.pn/2qwBso2

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