March 15, 2008
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. –
It’s amazing what a couple of determined women can do. With only three athletes in the meet, the Florida State women’s track and field team had its best finish in 22 years. Susan Kuijken won the 3000m and Hannah England captured the mile run title to help FSU to a total of 28 points, placing them sixth.
FSU last broke into the top ten with a sixth-place finish in 1986. Only one other time in school history has Florida State had a pair of national champions in the women’s meet. Michelle Finn took the 55m and Esmeralda Garcia won the triple jump.
Both distance runners ran nearly identical races, saving a big kick for the final lap that propelled them to victory. They each set a school record with England (Oxford, England) breaking Kuijken’s record she set two weeks ago at the ACC Championships with a time of 4:35.30. Kuijken (Nijmegen, Netherlands) reset her own record in the 3000m, lowering it to 8:58.14.
“They were fantastic,” FSU head coach Bob Braman said about England and Kuijken. “Both of them had lifetime bests and sub-nine in the 3000m is world class. Twenty-eight points in sixth place from three kids is pretty special. That’s a whale of job by the women.”
England ran as good of a tactical race as she possibly could. With a great final kick she knew all she needed to do was keep the leaders close. Through the first three laps she was in fifth then moved up to fourth for the next three laps. England moved up a spot on the seventh lap then made her move coming out of the first turn of the bell lap. By the time she came out of the final turn and headed down the back stretch she had taken over the lead and broke the tape 0.44 ahead of Nicole Edwards.
“From racing in America I’ve learned that every runs full out,” England said. “You don’t get that in England, it’s a bit more cat and mouse. With everyone running full out I was prepared to put myself in a line and run hard. I could see the other girls make their move and I felt comfortable with myself. I knew I could handle what they were doing and I was ready for my kick.”
For Kuijken – who was already an All-America in cross country this fall – she was in the hunt for the entire race. Never lower than third the entire race, she took off during the final lap to post her winning time of 8:58.12. The closest competitor was more than two seconds behind.
“When Sally (Kipyego) scratched I knew (Arianna) Lambie would take it out and I’d have to watch for Brie Felnagle,” Kuijken said. “In the end when the three of us were left I knew I could beat Lambie because I had the kick but I knew I had to give it my all and try to lose Felnagle. When I came around to the last turn I looked at the screen and saw she was fading and that was it.
“It feels great. I always thought that indoors wasn’t necessarily as important as outdoors, but a national championship is a national championship. It feels great to win.”
Normally a second-place finish in the national championship would be the bright spot of the day, but on Saturday that wasn’t the case. Wrapping up the scoring for Florida State was freshman triple jumper Kim Williams (Kingston, Jamaica) who posted the longest triple jump in school history – indoor or outdoor – with a leap of 13.82m (45-04.25) to take second.
The Seminoles open the outdoor season by playing host to the Snowbird Invitational, March 21-22 at Mike Long Track.