June 12, 2010
EUGENE, Ore. – The sun didn’t poke through the clouds at Oregon’s historic Hayward Field on the final day of the NCAA Track & Field Championship, long after the Florida State men’s team began its breakthrough.
The Seminoles put three days of struggles behind them with a big, shiny finish to the four-day affair. Jump-started by a silver finish in the 4×100 relay, Brandon Byram added a bronze in the 200 and Brian Chibudu tacked on a sixth-place finish in the long jump, good for a 17-point final day haul that vaulted Bob Braman’s squad into a share of eighth place with 22 points.
It was an improbable rally for the FSU men, who entered the day tied for 32nd place with just five points, but finished with its sixth consecutive top 10 finish.
“We’ve had a great day,” Braman said. “The guys have really stepped up. It was a really nice rally.”
The rally would not have been possible if not for the contributions of the sprint/jump group which had labored through the first three days. Setting the tone from the start Saturday was the 4×100 quartet of David Ambler, Byram, Maurice Mitchell and Chibudu, which came within .03 of pulling off gold. The ‘Noles brought the baton around in 39.07 out of lane 2, with Mitchell grabbing the lead on the third leg and passing to Chibudu, who ran shoulder-to-shoulder with Florida 100-meter champion Jeff Demps up the front-stretch but was nipped at the line.
“We got some things done today,” said FSU men’s sprints coach Ken Harnden. “The whole week we’ve been behind. … My group stepped up today and did the job. This is the first step for next year.”
Byram played a huge role in the FSU rally, following a strong second leg on the relay with an amazing third-place finish out of lane 1 in the 200 final (20.54). In collecting his second All-American honor of the day, Byram provided some vindication for a talented sprint group that managed to get just one competitor into 100 or 200 finals.
“It has been a rough week and I was getting a little bit worried,” said Byram, a junior whose competitive spirit provided the ‘Noles with a big lift. “After the 4×100 I was pumped. I was a little worried about lane 1. It was a little tight, but I got out and executed and did what Ken said. I came around the corner and was in front and had to expend a lot of energy. I was really happy with (the result).”
“Most people don’t understand how tough that is out of lane 1,” Harnden said. “Brandon has the heart of a lion.”
“It was an unbelievable race,” Braman added.
After contributing to the 4×100 silver, Chibudu went 25-4.50 (7.73m) in the long jump for sixth.
With only two competitors toeing the start line Saturday for the FSU women, the opportunity to make a big move in team scoring was limited. Still, the Seminoles got four points from senior Pilar McShine, who was fifth in the 1,500 meters (4:16.72). McShine ran at the front of the 14-runner pack most of the way and was poised to finish second before fading over the final 30 meters.
Sophomore Jennifer Dunn finished 10th in the 3,000 meter steeplechase (10:15.91), and narrowly missed grabbing All-American honors in her first national appearance.
Regardless, the Seminoles finished in a tie for 20th place with 13 points; up five spots from their position entering the final day. It is their fifth consecutive finish in the top 20.
The only other non-scoring competitors for the men Saturday were Michael Putman and Marlon Woods, who failed to reach the finals in the shot put and long jump, respectively. Putman fouled his first two throws and settled for 17th place with a lone mark of 57-4.24 (17.48m). Woods was 16th in the long jump with a best mark of 24-6.25 (7.47m).
Men’s Long Jump
6. Brian Chibudu 7.73m/ 25-4.50
16. Marlon Woods 7.47m/ 24-6.25
Men’s Shot Put
17. Michael Putman 17.48m/57-04.25
2. FSU (Ambler, Byram, Mitchell, Chibudu) 39.07
5. Pilar McShine 4:16.72
3. Brandon Byram 20.54
Women’s 3000m Steeplechase
10. Jennifer Dunn 10:15.91
NCAA Scorers and All-Americans
Men’s 4x100m: (Ambler, Byram, Mitchell, Chibudu) – 8 pts
Men’s 200m: Brandon Byram- 6 pts
Men’s Discus: Michael Putman- 3 pts
Men’s Long Jump: Brian Chibudu- 3 pts
Women’s 1500m: Pilar McShine- 4 pts
Women’s Triple Jump: Kim Williams- 5 pts
Women’s 10000m: Pasca Cheruiyot- 4 pts