CLEMSON, S.C. – Dante Newberg is in second place with three events remaining in the heptathlon and with the Florida State women’s and men’s distance medley relay teams delivering season-best times in Thursday’s final event, the Seminoles are on the scoreboard after Thursday’s opening of the ACC Indoor Track & Field Championships.
FSU’s women got on the scoreboard with a fifth-place finish in the distance medley relay, whacking 20 seconds off their sixth-seeded qualifying time to finish in 11:17.73. The Noles came into the meet seeded sixth in the field and Jodie Judd’s hard charge off the final curve was good enough to nip Boston College at the finish line for fifth in the first final event of the three-day meet.
“That was fantastic,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “The ladies competed like crazy and did a super job. That’s four big points.”
Emily Edwards, Madison Harris, Maudie Skyring and Judd each turned in their fastest times of the season as the Noles mixed it up well until midway through the final leg behind Virginia Tech (10:57.60) and Clemson (10:58.83), who finished 1-2 with the top two times in the nation.
Battling gamely in the fast section throughout the men’s relay team was not as fortunate, as a late surge by the leaders over the final 400 meters left the FSU quartet of Toby Hardwick, Calvin Golson, Bert Freire and Istvan Szogi with an eighth-place finish (9:46.05). It was not only the Noles’ fastest time of the year, but the sixth-fastest in program history.
“There was just a lot of firepower out there,” Braman said. “Everybody put their best guys’ out there.”
Virginia Tech, the defending ACC champions and most serious challengers to sixth-ranked FSU’s title hopes, set the tone early by winning the event.
Newberg closed out the first day of heptathlon competition in second place overall, just 111 points behind the leader, Louisville’s Joe Delgado. The Tampa native came into the meet as the No. 3 seed with designs on a top-three podium finish for the first time in his career.
He was sixth last season.
“I think I’m in a good position overall and my first hep [this season] was not a great second day, so with a better second day I should at least keep my position – maybe try to move up – but podium is always the goal,” Newberg said.
Newberg’s bid for a top-three finish received a big boost with a lifetime-best shot put mark of 13.23 meters (43-5), which was good for 681 points and ranked second in the field of 13 competitors, pushing him from fifth to third after three events.
“That was a huge,” Newberg said. “I’ve been throwing that in practice for a while now, but to get it in a meet finally over 13 [meters] – and a good amount over 13 – felt great.”
Newberg opened the day with solid marks in the 60-meter dash (7.05) and long jump (6.82 meters), placing third and fifth, respectively against field. He finished fourth overall against the field in the high jump, climbing one spot in the overall standings, with a clearance of 1.92 meters (6-3.5). That pushed his day one total to 3,048 points; just 10 shy of his previous career-best at the Razorback Invitational.
“I feel pretty confident going into tomorrow,” said Newberg, who has a 32-point advantage over Duke’s Jacob Sabota in third place. “I’ve had a pretty decent year overall practicing these events. I’m back up to a longer approach and a bigger pole in pole vault and I’m way better conditioned for the 1,000. So I’m pretty confident going in that I can have a solid day 2 and lead to a big PR and hopefully second or first.”
“When you look at what he did and he’s in a good position,” Braman said. “If he hits a good hurdle race and a decent pole vault, he’ll be in a position to get on the podium and that’s fantastic.
“He just needs to have a good day. He doesn’t have to be a home run hitter. Things happen. You’ve got 16 more events to go [in the meet]. People are going to drop batons; people are going to get DQ’d.”
Hunter Napier stands 12th in the field with a day 1 career-best 2,441 points, aided by new personal-bests in the 60-meter dash and the shot put.
In addition to the conclusion of the heptathlon, Friday’s schedule includes finals in the high jump, weight throw, long jump and 5,000 meters. There’s also a matter of taking care of business in qualifying as many athletes for the finals through the preliminary rounds of the 60, 400 and 200 dashes, the 60 hurdles and the 800.
Braman doesn’t want his team to focus on what it’s capable of doing and leave the scoreboard watching to fans and others.
“At some point we have to focus on us and not be concerned with what Virginia Tech does,” Braman said. “They’re going to fight like they always do. I’d rather focus on us, put a big number up there if we can and try to steal some points where we can. That’s what we’ve got to do.”
The competition begins with the heptathlon 60-meter hurdles at 10:30 a.m. and concludes with Militsa Mircheva chasing a podium finish, and perhaps an NCAA 5000-meter qualifying mark, in the 7:50 p.m. event.
You can follow the action via Twitter @FSU_Track and by monitoring live stats at: http://flashresults.com/2018_Meets/Indoor/02-22_ACC/
ACC Network Extra will stream Friday’s action beginning at 3:30 p.m. with the 400-meter dash prelims. Friday, Feb. 23 – 3:30-8:30 pm http://theacc.co/itf18champ0223
Saturday, Feb. 24 – 12-4:30 pm http://theacc.co/itf18champ0224
A complete recap, including a story and video highlights, will be posted nightly at Seminoles.com.