March 16, 2014
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Senior Dentarius Locke laid claim to his first NCAA Championship and the Florida State men’s team returned to the podium for the first time since 2009 with a fourth-place finish at Saturday’s conclusion of the two-day meet at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
On a day when virtually all of the title contenders endured some hardship, the Seminoles overcame their own troubles, parlaying Locke’s 60-meter dash title, Jonathan Reid’s third-place triple jump finish and a seventh-place finish in the 4×400 into 18 points on the final day. FSU’s two-day, 28-point total trailed only Oregon (62), Arkansas (54) and Florida (35). It was the Seminoles’ best finish since placing third in 2009.
“We had five scoring opportunities and had two national champions, a third-place that was almost a second,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “You couldn’t come in here and do more than they did. You could get more points, but we couldn’t have competed any harder. …
“I’m proud of them like crazy. We’re happy to get a trophy. It was a great job. For us, anytime we’re on the podium at indoor, we’re happy.”
One day after James Harris delivered the Seminoles their first national championship of the meet in the high jump, Locke, the fourth-seed entering the meet, beat a strong field with an all-time best time of 6.52 in the 60-meter final. His altitude-converted time (6.54) matched the school record set by Marvin Bracy last year.
The fifth-year Tampa native ran nearly the perfect final to capture the first championship of a trying career, which began at Tennessee and has included sitting out two seasons. Then there was the false start in the preliminary round of the 60 at last year’s NCAA Indoor Championships, when he was the No. 2 seed to Bracy, who also false-started in the prelims.
“It’s a blessing,” Locke said. “I’ve been through so much. … There’s been so much build-up; a chip on my shoulder that has been built up. There were a lot of things that were going on in my mind and that made me focus a lot more on me.”
Bolting from the blocks, Locke pulled up on Alabama’s Diondre Batson, the No. 1 qualifier in Friday’s preliminary line, and never looked back from mid-race through the finish line.
“I felt like it was the perfect race. I executed everything I wanted to. … When I was getting into the blocks all I was saying was, `NCAA champ, this is what I came to get.’ Seven days ago I put it on Twitter: Seven Days from now #claimit.
“I was aware (of the competition) but I didn’t really see too many people. Of all my races at FSU that was probably my best race, even better than the 9.90, because I was focused on just me. When I did that, when I came up (on the field) and nobody moved in front of me, I knew then it was over. I wanted to wait until it was official and I saw the results.”
Locke was ecstatic when the results flashed on the scoreboard at the end of the 60-meter straightaway. Not only had he won – and matched the school record with a lifetime-best – he became the first NCAA Indoor 60-meter champion in Florida State history.
“I felt like it was the perfect race,” Locke said, who couldn’t wait to share the news with his supportive parents. “I executed everything I wanted to. … When I was getting into the blocks all I was saying was, `NCAA champ, this is what I came to get.’ Seven days ago I put it on Twitter: Seven Days from now #claimit. “It feels great to be a champion – finally.”
“It has been an extraordinarily long road for Locke,” Braman said. “He ran the perfect race. He focused on himself and he got that national title. He was picked fifth coming in but wasn’t worried about who was out there. National champions – there are only 15 individuals – and we’ve got two of them. That’s pretty cool.”
Reid followed up with a pivotal third-place finish in the triple jump, posting a mark of 16.28 meters (53-5), despite a tender right ankle that he had taped and re-taped throughout the competition.
“Coach [Dennis] Nobles is a great coach and he keeps telling me what I can jump. I don’t think I can jump that far, but when he tells it to me I think, `Maybe I can.’ Today, my ankle was killing me and I really just dug in and tried to do my best.”
Junior Colleen Quigley provided the only points of the day for the Seminole women, finishing sixth in the mile. Quigley led most of the way when she could not find a willing competitor to set a swift pace. She was still in front with two laps remaining but had to hang on for sixth, despite a career-best altitude converted time of 4:34.29.
In the process, she extended FSU’s streak of consecutive years with a first-team All-American in the women’s mile to nine years; 10 in the last 11.
The Florida State women finish tied for 39th with five points. In addition to Quigley’s three-point contribution, the `Noles received a seventh-place finish from freshman Der’Renae Freeman in the long jump on Friday.
The FSU men began Saturday’s competition in ninth place on the strength of Harris’ high jump win in a school-record leap of 7-7.25.