IOWA CITY, Iowa – In a weekend full of amazing debuts, Florida State junior transfer Andre Ewers stole the show Saturday at the Larry Wieczorek Invitational.
Ewers ran away from a Seminole-filled 60-meter dash final in 6.52 – the No. 2 time in the world and top collegiate performance – grabbing a share of Dentarius Locke’s FSU record, set when he won the 2014 NCAA Championship.
“This is a blessing,” said Ewers, who was cleared for competition on Thursday after transferring in from Butler County (Kan.) College. “Florida State has a rich tradition and I didn’t come here to be average. I came here to be great. My mindset is to make history and to show up every time I step on the track.”
He had quite a start, improving on his previous lifetime best when he ran 6.63 in the prelims to reach the finals with teammates Darryl Haraway, Darryl Gay, Shamon Ehiemua and Edward Clarke.
Haraway ran 6.68 for second in the final, while Gay, a freshman, laid down 6.74 for third. Clarke was fourth in a season-best 6.77.
“That puts him in front of all but one of the greatest sprinters in FSU history,” FSU coach Bob Braman said of Ewers. “It’s scary to think of what his ceiling is.”
Only 2017 NCAA champion and current pro Christian Coleman has run faster this year. Pending ratification, Coleman broke the world record when he ran 6.37 on Friday at Clemson.
“I thought Darryl Harraway was going to go sub 6.60 as well, but he got a late race cramp,” Braman added. “He’ll give us a second sprint weapon by nationals.”
Ewers came into the meet with a personal-best of 6.65 and hoped to run somewhere around 6.60, but he wasn’t setting any limits on himself. He won the meet’s Track MVP trophy after smashing the facility record.
“I’ve been making more sacrifices this fall than I have any year of training; eating right, hydrating and stretching,” said Ewers, who had two junior college stops after starring at Piper High School. “I’ve been doing all the right things on my own…I’m basically locked in.
“I’m not satisfied. I’m excited about the time, but this race is in the past. I can see what I’m capable of.”
Braman and the Noles have a bright outlook on the future following other impressive debuts Saturday, including two more performances which rank in the top 10 nationally.
Freshman Trey Cunningham won the 60-meter hurdles, racing to an easy win in 7.74 – the No. 6 mark in the nation – which is the No. 4 mark in FSU history. The World Junior record-holder won his preliminary heat in 7.87 and was uncontested in the final when LSU freshman Damion Thomas, who ranked No. 2 nationally to Cunningham in high school, crashed over the first hurdle.
Fellow frosh Ka’Tia Seymour posted the fifth-fastest 60-meter dash time in Seminole history when she ran 7.31 for third place in the final. That mark currently stands No. 9 in the nation after a final which saw finish behind collegiate leader Aleia Hobbs (7.14) and LSU teammate Kortnei Johnson (7.19), who ranks third. Fellow FSU freshman Jayla Kirkland also grabbed the No. 10 spot on FSU’s all-time list when she ran 7.40 in the prelims.
“Trey Cunningham showed how great he’s going to be,” Braman said. “That’s a seamless transition from national high school and world junior record-holder to winning his collegiate debut in a meet of this caliber.
“Ka’Tia showed great composure against some of the best sprinters in the country. Her 7.31 is awful close to what it takes to make nationals.”
The Noles also picked up two more victories on the night. Austin Droogsma claimed the shot put title and Field MVP honors, with a meet record throw of 18.99 meters (62-3.75). Militsa Mircheva finished it off with a runaway 3000-meter triumph in 9:25.22, breaking the meet record held by her former teammate Carmela Cardama Baez, while establishing a new facility record.
“It was my first race this season so I wanted to be a little more conservative at the beginning and just use the people as pace-makers,” said Mircheva, who broke away from the pack over the final half of the race to win by more than 13 seconds. “It was too comfortable a pace so I just decided I’m going to do a 1k max.
“I’m excited, but I’m more excited for the 5k.”
Emily Edwards shaved 10 seconds off her previous personal-best to finish fourth behind Mircheva in 9:47.52.
Junior Peta-Gay Williams was unable to successfully defend her meet title but ran 8.20 in the 60-meter hurdles final for third behind a pair of LSU runners. Still, she managed to run faster than her year-old facility record of 8.24.
Gleneve Grange was the top collegian in the shot put, finishing behind former NCAA champion Christina Hillman, with a season-best throw of 16.49m (54-1.25).
“Militsa was outstanding,” Braman said. “She absolutely crushed the last 1000 meters. She’s really on top of her game now. She’s going to make a run at national qualifying in four weeks and has a real shot to make it.
“GG and Austin we’re both impressive in the shot. Those two always compete hard, so the consistency is great to see. Peta-Gay ran a strong race against the defending national champ. Her 8.20 is her second fastest ever. She’ll likely get her nationals ticket punched next week.”
Those strong performances kept the Noles moving up the men’s and women’s leaderboards in the final standings. The FSU men finished second in the eight-team meet with 97 points, trailing only host Iowa (143.5) but 20 points in front of LSU. The Noles women placed fourth out of nine teams with 77 points as seventh-ranked LSU (114) claimed the team title, followed by No. 13 Minnesota (98.33) and Iowa (93.33).
The Seminoles will head to Fayetteville, Ark. next weekend for the Razorback Invitational as the abbreviated indoor schedule nears its midway point.