June 11, 2008
Des Moines, Iowa – As the saying goes, the show must go on. Such was the case at Drake Field in Des Moines, Iowa, where the 2008 NCAA Track & Field Championships finally got under way after a three-hour rain delay. The Seminoles didn’t let the inclement weather slow them down as the men moved five competitors and a relay into their respective event finals and the women advanced one.
“We traded punches with LSU today,” said head coach Bob Braman. “On a perfect day we’ve got (Michael Ray) Garvin in the 100m final, but their wild cards didn’t get through.”
The big story of the day was a familiar one for the Seminoles as senior Walter Dix debuted for the final time in Garnet & Gold. Dix and fellow All-American Michael Ray Garvin easily made it past the first round of the 100m prelims in fourth and fifth place respectively. In the semi-finals later in the day, the two competed in the same heat. Dix finished fourth overall with a 10.45 to advance to the finals on Friday while Garvin came up short with a 13th-place time of 10.59 overall.
“Walter (Dix) looked really good and I think Walter can be right there,” said Braman. “In his mind, everything has gone perfectly. He had once unexpectedly good race where he looked around like `Oh my God, I’m back.’ I think that’s part of it that he’s not as far along in his season as a lot of these guys.”
After the first five events, the Seminoles’ leadoff hitter for the day–freshman Gonzalo Barroilhet–is in fifth place in the men’s decathlon with 3,958 points. Barroilhet recorded his personal best outdoor marks in the long and high jumps with a 7.12/23’4.50″ leap in the long and a second-place 6’07.50″/2.02m mark in the high. He also finished 12th in the shot put with a toss of 13.45m/44’01.50″ and crossed the line in 50.61 to take 14th in the 400m. Competition in the decathlon will resume in the morning with the final five events including Barroilhet’s best tasks, the pole vault and 110m hurdles.
“Gonzalo (Barroilhet) fought back from behind way back and has put himself in a good position to challenge,” said Braman. “A lot of people get down two, three hundred points, particularly early and don’t have good events coming up, they pack their bags. Gonzalo fought like a champ.”
Fellow freshman Ngoni Makusha also showed up big for the Seminoles in day one of competition posting a 8.08m/26’06.25″ mark on his first leap of the day in the men’s long jump to automatically advance to Thursday’s final round in the top spot.
“I thought Ngoni (Makusha) was at the top of his game,” said Braman. “One jump and go sit down, that kind of makes a statement when you do that. It was the second-best jump of his life and it just happened to be at the national championships.”
Seniors Elliot Wood and Javier Garcia-Tunon made their national debuts this afternoon in the men’s 400m hurdles. Wood advanced to the finals by a hair with a 15th-place 51.03 while Garcia-Tunon just barely missed out in 19th with a time of 51.35.
The men closed out the day with the semi-finals of the 3000m steeplechase. Senior All-America Luke Gunn crossed the line in 8:44.92 to claim third place overall and advance to Friday’s finals.
In the first round of the 800m run, sophomore Pilar McShine had the opportunity to set the tone of the Seminole women as one of only two member of the team participating in today’s competition. She set the bar high with a 15th-place finish in the 800m run with a time of 2:07.98, enough to squeeze her way into the semi-final pool of 16 set to run tomorrow night.
“That’s huge,” Braman said of McShine. “She was last with about half a lap to go and could have put her head down and said `You know I’m not supposed to be here,’ and packed it up, but she sucked it up and got it done. She’s got a chance tomorrow. She’s got to run her best race of the year, but if she does she will be in the final.”
The second performer on the women’s side today was junior Lydia Willemse who finished 24th with a time of 10:52.50 in the 3000m steeplechase.