June 13, 2009
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – With the men’s 4x400m relay squad setting this year’s second fastest time in the world, freshman phenom Jonathan Borlee running the nation’s best time in the 400m dash this season and junior Charles Clark earning the national championship in the 200m, the Florida State men’s track and field team left the John McDonnell Field with a smile on its face Saturday as the squad was named the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Runner-up, finishing in a three-way tie for second place with 46 points alongside Oregon and Florida. The Florida State women also took care of business with the program’s best finish since 1985. Sophomore Kimberly Williams dominated the triple jump Saturday while teammate senior Susan Kuijken blazed past the competition to earn national champion status in the 1500m to help the Seminoles win fourth-place with 40 points.
“Everybody’s got a point or two that they’d like to get,” Florida State head coach Bob Braman said. “Everybody’s got `em. From where we came from with our injuries and our 4×1 not making it because of a silly handoff where we could have jogged it in, to get second, that’s a pretty good meet. And a foot away from a national title … just a heck of a meet, a heck of a meet. We haven’t had one like that for 20 years.
“I really thought the women had a better chance and we hit Kimberly (Williams) and we hit Susan (Kuijken) and the 4×100 did about everything they could do but when you come to this meet, you’re going to have some miss-fires, bad strategy or somebody cuts you off or you’re not perfect. What a track meet. It was a lot of fun, a lot of fun. (We) put on a show anyway. Got them on the stand and had a little fun with it.”
The men’s title came down to the very last event of the meet, the men’s 4x400m relay. After a late line-up change due to Brandon O’Connor’s nagging injury, Clark stepped in to run the third leg. With a quick first leg sprint by Kevin Williams and one of the fastest second leg’s FSU has ever witnessed in Kevin Borlee, Clark and Jonathan Borlee were set to finish the relay with a blistering time to blow away records. J. Borlee crossed the finish line first to push Florida State into the FSU, NCAA and World record books as the foursome’s 2:59.99 time is the world’s second-fastest time this season and the best-performance in Florida State program history.
Before the Borlee brothers crushed the opposition in the relay, both Seminoles hit the track to compete in the 400m dash. J. Borlee led the way again as he bettered his collegiate-best time with 44.78 to win the crown and earn his first NCAA Championship title. Brother K. Borlee followed on the warpath with a fourth-place finish time of 45.53, also a collegiate record for the Seminole. The Borlee’s finishes earned FSU a total of 15 points.
“I don’t know what his split was but that was probably the most amazing relay I’ve ever seen,” FSU sprints coach Ken Harnden said about Kevin Borlee. “Jonathan’s 400 was just pure execution. He executed the race absolutely perfectly. Kevin’s 400, he just messed up the first 200 a little bit and it cost him. When you have four or five Olympians in a race, that kind of thing costs you big-time. Those two kids, freshmen, they’re no different from a kid who went to grade 13 in the U.S. and then came to college. They’re young, they’re not that experienced. Yes they went to the Olympic games but they’re still just in their fifth year of track. Those two kids are amazing.”
Williams continued to control the field in the triple jump as the Seminole almost trumped the world and meet record with an incredible 14.38m mark if not for the 2.1 wind which made the jump illegal. However, the NCAA Champion was still able to defend her 2008 title with another leap of 13.88m that solidified her first place finish. The two-time NCAA Champion is the first Seminole in FSU history to win both the long and triple jump titles in the same season and the second student-athlete to do so in NCAA history. Williams’ win Saturday earned the Seminoles 10 points.
The men’s 200m dash featuring Clark finally earning the retribution he so longed for as he earned the crown. After finishing in eighth place in both 2007 and 2008, Clark’s hard work paid off as his amazing start to the race pushed the Seminole into first place with a season-best time of 20.55.
As one of FSU’s most decorated athletes, Kuijken earned another medal to add to her achievements with a first-place finish in the 1500m run. Kuijken cruised into the lead early on in the race and with her arms extended the air, the Seminole finished in 4:13.05, winning 10 points for the women’s team.
In all, Florida State garnered seven national champion honors at the meet.
“We came to the meet and said, `what can we do to give ourselves a chance?’,” Braman said. “My goodness, this performance is right there with the other three titles in terms of effort. In fact, it may be the best. It was a foot away from a perfect ending. A four-way tie, maybe the three other coaches wouldn’t have been happy with that, but I’m pretty happy with that. Not just because of where we’ve come from but to appreciate how hard it is to win. It ain’t easy.”
Quoting the Seminole scorers…
“It feels good to be a winner. I just prayed to God that He was going to bring me through it and I praise His name. I am so thankful and blessed to have this opportunity to be out here for nationals in front of thousands of fans and the people on TV. It’s a great feeling to be victorious.”
“I can’t hear anything when I’m running. I’ve just got to stay focused, block out all of the noise and all of the fans and try to run a good race.”
“I knew I had to get out quick, because my last 100 or so hasn’t been great. I got out of the blocks well and knew as soon as we turned the corner that I had the best shot to bring it home. I guess it was with about 20 meters to go that I knew I had it.”
“I felt good. I looked and I saw that there was a little bit of a gap and was like, `oh, already’ and that made me feel even better. I felt great; I was just flying those last 200 meters. I had a lot of fun.”
“That last 300 was crazy. I started to open it up and looked back and realized everyone else was coming. It seemed a little early, but I felt good and turned it on. This is awesome.”
“I have a whole collection of second place awards in the indoor, outdoor and cross country. I was like I want to win this race. Nothing else but a win counts for me today. I am so happy I did it.”
“I’m really proud of our team. We’re such a small team here at nationals and we are competing for a team trophy with all of these bigger teams. That’s just crazy and it shows how much quality we have on our team.”
“Today was a really tough day. My legs were kind of giving up but I had to be strong out there. I just want to thank God for keeping me out there for the four days. I’m happy with the win and although the wind wasn’t legal, I jumped that and I just want to give thanks for that.”
“It was a pretty tough weekend. This was the first time I’ve jumped all four days (with the long jump) and I took all of my jumps in each round, so today I just had to refocus and concentrate. I had to adjust for the wind so that my steps were right, but I’m very happy with this win.”
“It feels good to be going out and doing all of the things we do. I’ve got to give it up to my teammates who continue to go out there and do their best. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be so confident with everything. I want to thank the coaching staff and everybody that works with us and is patient with us. We’re looking forward to next year because we’re going to be up there again.”
“That was a great race for me to run a PR and win the race, so I’m happy with that. Running with (brother) Kevin is great for us because we can push each other in practice and keep getting better.”
Men’s 400m Dash:
1. Jonathan Borlee 44.78
4. Kevin Borlee 45.43
Men’s 200m Dash:
1. Charles Clark 20.55
Men’s 4x400m Relay:
1. Florida State 2:59.99
Women’s Triple Jump:
1. Kim Williams 14.38m (2.1 wind), 13.88m
Women’s 800m Run:
9. Pilar McShine 2:05.50
Women’s 1500m Run:
1. Susan Kuijken 4:13.05
Final Team Rankings:
1. Texas A & M 48 points
2. Oregon 46 points
2. Florida 46 Points
2. Florida State 46 Points
5. LSU 37 Points
1. Texas A & M 50 points
2. Oregon 43 points
3. Arizona State 41 points
4. Florida State 40 points
5. Michigan 29.5 points