May 24, 2006
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Florida State Seminoles have waited for this meet since the end of the 2005 season. The No. 1/1 men’s and 17/15 women’s squads are set to compete at the 2006 NCAA East Region Championships on the campus of N.C. A&T State University in Greensboro, N.C. from Friday, May 26 to Saturday, May 27.
The men’s team returns to regionals after winning the 2005 meet title. The Seminoles edged rival Florida, the winner of the first three championships, 96-94 in a victory that came down to the final event – the 4x400m relay. The quartet (Greg Johnson, Elliott Wood, Rafeeq Curry, Ricardo Chambers) secured the team championship with a second-place finish in the race. Curry and Chambers won individual event titles in the triple jump and 400m, respectively. Walter Dix and Garrett Johnson picked up two regional titles with Dix setting the American junior 100m record at 10.06 in the preliminary race.
The women’s team finished 15th in the team standings with 15 points. The women’s 4x100m and the 4x400m finished fifth overall. Sharneka Brown, Evelyne-Cynthia Niako, Kimberly Walker and LaKendra McColumn comprised the 400m-relay. The 1600m-relay came in first in their heat in the finals behind Niako, Dana Massiah, Kim Adams and McColumn. LaToya Legree and Barbara Parker earned at-large berths to nationals, placing sixth in their respective events.
NCAA EAST REGIONAL NOTES
Three Seminoles Have Best Marks In The Nation… Senior Rafeeq Curry, redshirt junior Garrett Johnson and junior Tom Lancashire have the best times among all NCAA competitors in their events. Curry, the 2006 ACC Triple and Long Jump Champion, is the nation’s farthest triple jumper with a season-best distance of 53’11.25″ (16.44m). Johnson, a 2006 Rhodes Scholar elect, has the best shot put mark among all college student-athletes, with his Penn Relays, record-breaking throw of 68’4.5″ (20.84m). Lancashire, the newest FSU school-record holder, added the seventh fastest 800m time in the world (1:45.76) to his portfolio.
Allen Joins Elite Group… Freshman pole vaulter Tori Allen is the second FSU woman to qualify in the pole vault. Her career-best mark of 12’5.5″ (3.80m) at the FSU Relays and then again at the Reebok Invitational secured a berth not only into the elite group but also the regional meet. The former X-Games Climbing Champion is seeded 22nd in the region in the event.
Last Chance Makes The Difference For Two Noles… Sophomore Kandia Batchelor (Tampa, Fla./Hillsborough) used the Reebok Invitational as her final chance to meet the NCAA East Regional standard in the 400m. The first time, All-ACC honoree ran 54.24 to join the regional squad. Redshirt sophomore Tommy Noyes was in the same boat as Batchelor, on the edge of 800m meet requirement. A seventh place finish in a time of 1:49.04 secured the all-conference performer’s spot with teammate and the nation’s top 800m runner Tom Lancashire in the NCAA East Region meet.
West Coast Is The Best Coast For Distance… The Seminoles distance group has grown accustomed to the climate, altitude and tracks in California. Seven regional qualifying marks over three meets have been met by the harrier group. Senior Andrew Lemoncello regionally qualified and broke two school records while competing in the Cardinal and Stanford Invitationals. Tom Lancashire secured a regional berth and produced one of the fastest 1500m times in the nation on the track at Stanford. At the Stanford Invitational, five women met the NCAA East Region meet standard with four in that group running lifetime bests. Redshirt senior Natalie Hughes made the most of two trips near her home state of Colorado, qualifying in the 1500m at the Cardinal Invitational and in the 5000m run at the Stanford Invitational. In terms of preparing for a return trip to California for the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships, the distance group is well prepared.
Two Toms In Top Ten In 800m… Tom Lancashire and Tommy Noyes are both ranked among the top ten performers in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Lancashire’s 800m time of 1:45.76 is the fastest in the conference, region and nation. Noyes 800m clip of 1:49.04 is third in the league and places him in the No. 8 position among regional runners.
Elite Group Anchors The Seminole Squad… The men’s team isn’t ranked No. 1 in the country for nothing. Seven marks are the best in the region, entering this weekend’s meet, while 16 are ranked in the top eight and projected to score points. Walter Dix leads the way in the 100m and 200m while fellow sprinter Ricardo Chambers, triple jumper Rafeeq Curry, 800m runner Tom Lancashire, 3000m steeplechaser Andrew Lemoncello and shot putter Garrett Johnson are also pegged as the favorites for first place on the podium. The relays are also a factor in point scoring as the 4x100m leads the group and the 4x400m sits at seventh.
Healthy Lead For Number Ones… Walter Dix leads the next closest competitor, also from Tallahassee – Florida A&M’s Chris Hargrett, in the 100m by seven-hundredths of a second (10.17 vs. 10.24). With a 20.25 mark in the 200m, his lead is bigger than the second fastest advancer, also from the state of Florida – the Gator’s Willie Perry who has registered a 20.59 clip. Ricardo Chambers (45.52) has three-hundredths of a second over the 45.82 clocked by fellow Sunshine State competitor (Florida’s) Sekou Clarke. Tom Lancashire is three full seconds ahead of the pack with his school record setting time of 1:45.76 ahead of Penn’s Courtney Jaworski at 1:48.14. Andrew Lemoncello leads the region in the 3000m steeplechase by almost 20 seconds. Rafeeq Curry is almost one foot ahead of his next closest competitor, Bethune Cookman’s Louis Brown (who is coached by former Seminole great Walter McCoy) while Garrett Johnson has three feet on Northeastern’s Derek Anderson.
Redshirt Freshman Top Ten In Three Events… Redshirt freshman Javier Garcia-Tunon is listed among the top ten in the conference in the 100m hurdles, 400m hurdles and high jump. He has the third-fastest 400m hurdle time at 51.97 and the fourth speediest 110m hurdle mark of 14.16. In the high jump he is tied for seventh place with a height of 6’4.75″ (1.95m).
Curry One Of The Top Dual Event Jumpers In The Nation… Senior Rafeeq Curry has proved to be one of the more consistent triple jumpers in the nation over the last few seasons. At the beginning of his senior year, he added the long jump to his competition resume. The move proved to be for the best with the seven-time All-American holding steady to his No. 1 ranking and placing in the top 14 in the nation in the long jump. He is one of only two men in the country in the top 15 in both events and the only person with a number one ranking. UTEP’s Mikael Hanany is second in the triple jump and tenth in the long jump.
Women’s Team Second In Conference In Qualifiers… The women’s team will send 15 individuals who have amassed 21 qualifying marks plus both relays to compete at the NCAA East Region Championship. That number is second in the league to Miami, who has 24 qualifying marks plus two relays, and ahead of the next closest opponent, Georgia Tech with 14 individual qualifiers and the 4x100m relay. Natalie Hughes leads the group of qualifiers with three individual marks while 4x100m- and 4x400m-relay legs Evelyne-Cynthia Niako and LaKendra McColumn add two individual events to their extensive list of regional berths.
League-Leading Qualifiers Fuel Seminoles Run at Championships… The 26 qualifying marks recorded by the Seminoles are the best among 12 Atlantic Coast Conference teams. The next closest groups are Wake Forest and Clemson with 14 each. The Seminoles are one of only two teams that have both relays qualified and are the only men’s program with an automatic qualifier (Andrew Lemoncello, 10,000m).
Hughes Return To Racing… Natalie Hughes redshirted the 2005 season after being slowed by injuries during the 2004 cross country campaign. The 2006 NCAA Indoor National Mile Runner-up stormed back to the track as one of the team’s top competitors. She won her first ACC Outdoor Event Championship in taking first in the 1500m. The Grand Junction, Colo., native is the third fastest 1500m runner in the country and in the top ten in the 800m in the region. She is the team leader in the 800m and the 1500m.