TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Der’Renae Freeman arrived at her first USA Olympic Trials as the 15th seed from a starting field of 25.
She departed from Historic Hayward Field Saturday with a sixth-place finish, having posted the top two all-conditions marks of her career.
Freeman backed up a wind-aided mark of 6.70 meters (21-11.75) with another monster leap (6.61), defeating a long list of established veterans in her final performance in a Florida State uniform. It was sweet revenge for the Orlando-area star and three-time ACC Outdoor champion, who was a disappointing 17th at the NCAA Outdoor Championships on the same runway just a month ago.
“What a phenomenal 24 hours for Der’Renae,” Florida State coach Bob Braman said. “Sixth at the Olympic Trials is really special, especially in a jumps-strong country like the US.
“I wish we could borrow five or six of those jumps and insert them into the NCAA Championships, but it’s just a great tribute for her to rebound and then exceed her lifetime-best.”
Freeman’s top mark Saturday exceeded the winning jump at the NCAA Championship and left her with the No. 2 finish among all collegians entered, and the best among those who had competed at the iconic venue a month ago. Kentucky’s Shakeela Saunders (6.89m), who did not qualify for the NCAA meet, was fourth overall.
Freeman wasn’t the only athlete with FSU connections to turn in a solid performance at the US Trials. Three of the five former Seminoles entered in first-round 100-meter dash competition advanced to Sunday’s final.
Dentarius Locke led the way with the 10th fastest time of the day (10.04), and he was followed by Kendal Williams (10.07) and Marvin Bracy (10.08). Locke advanced as the fastest non-auto qualifier on time, while Williams and Bracy moved on automatically with runner-up heat finishes.
They will compete in the semifinals at 7:19 p.m. (ET), trying to secure a spot in the eight-man final, set for 8:53 p.m. Saturday.
“Marvin and Dentarius ran really well,” Braman said. “Both were in full control over the first 80 meters. It’s great to see those guys taking the next step as post-collegians.”
Trentavis Friday (10.17) and Walter Dix (10.18) were unable to move beyond the first round.
Another former Seminole, LSU junior Michael Cherry, was not as fortunate despite posting the fastest 400-meter time of his career (44.81). Cherry finished fifth in his semifinal heat – only the top four advanced to the final – though he was fifth-fastest of the 16 runners competing overall.
In Kingston, Jamaica, Ricardo Chambers’ bid to return to the Olympic Games for the first time since 2008 was derailed in the 400-meter semifinals as he finished fourth in his heat in 45.90, which was 10th overall.
FSU redshirt junior discus thrower Emmanuel Onyia placed fifth in the final and will represent Jamaica in the U23 North American competition later this summer.
Sunday’s action in Jamaica will be led by reigning triple jump national champion Kimberly Williams, who will hunt a return trip to the Olympic Games. Williams was sixth in the 2012 London Games.
The only other Seminole competing Sunday at National Stadium will be Meme Jean, who is entered in the 100-meter hurdles. Jean, who is bidding to land a spot on Haiti’s Olympic team, will try and lower her season-best time (13.01) by .01 to meet the automatic Olympic standard.