FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Meme Jean admitted she would be happy running “8.2-anything” in the 60-meter hurdles this indoor season; her first at Florida State as a graduate student in criminology.The Charleston Southern graduate and Florida native will be re-evaluating those goals after her breakthrough performance Saturday at the Razorback Invitational.
Jean crushed her previous personal-best in the preliminary heat, running 8.17, then backed it up with an 8.15 second-place finish in the final. That’s the fourth-fastest collegiate time nationally this season and the swiftest by a Seminole since school record-holder Teona Rodgers ran 8.07 in the finals of the 2009 ACC Indoor Championships.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Jean, who is just three meets into her FSU career after sitting out last season to give birth to her daughter. “I was kind of getting tired of running 8.3’s. My PR is 8.23. I don’t like thinking too much about time, but coming into this meet I was hoping to at least run an 8.2-anything. I surprised myself with an 8.15.”
Jean came into the meet with a season-best time of 8.32 and a lifetime-best of 8.23, when she broke the Big South Conference record in 2014. With her performance she vaulted 2012 Olympian Anne Zagre and Kim Jones into second place all-time among Seminoles.
And had Jean not clipped the fifth and final hurdle, allowing Oregon’s Sasha Wallace to pass for the victory (8.05)?
“It could have been an 8.0,” Jean said, still beaming about the promise of what the future might hold. “My ultimate goal, even before having a baby, was to go 8.0-anything. Knowing that it’s in me – I feel it in me; I know I can run it and I could have done it today – but I clipped the last hurdle. That’s great.”
“That’s No. 2 all-time, and I like the fact that Meme had two good races and you can see there’s more there,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “I’m really happy for Meme. She’s punched her ticket to nationals and that’s really good.”
As for holding the fourth-fastest time in the country?
“That’s somewhere I thought I’d never be,” Jean added.
Collectively, the Seminoles turned in a solid final day at the 12-team meet, featuring six of the nation’s seven ranked men’s teams and five of the nation’s top six women’s teams.
Nicole Setterington placed seventh in the 60-meter hurdle finals after a solid preliminary round time of 8.41. Chelsea Jarvis scored a fourth-place finish in the 800 with a season-best 2:07.11 to round on the scoring for the Seminole women, who placed 10th with 28.5 points.
Freshman Darryl Haraway advanced to his first collegiate final in the 60-meter dash and ran 6.71 to place fifth, improving on his preliminary round 6.78. Defending ACC indoor champion Jake Burton opened up his season with a seventh-place finish in the 800 (1:49.97) to account for the only other scoring performances by the Seminole men.
“I felt like overall, big picture, we competed from the track side much better today,” Braman said. “We’re not where we want to be but people can start to envision where we’re going to be. For us, there’s four weeks to conference. That’s the focus except for the super-elite group.
“I thought Darryl Haraway really acquitted himself really, really well after last meets’ false start. He ran two good races against really talented guys in his final. I thought the 800 guys did well; I thought Chelsea Jarvis ran well.”
In addition to the scoring performances the Seminoles registered a sizeable number of personal-bests and a handful of new top 10 marks.
Freshman Dante Newberg capped off his first career heptathlon with 4,793 points; the No. 4 mark in FSU history. Newberg registered collegiate career-best marks in all three events Saturday, including the 60-meter hurdles (8.56), pole vault (3.90m/12-9.50) and the 1000-meter run (3:02.96).
“Dante in his debut as a true freshman who had never done a heptathlon, he’s in the neighborhood of scoring at the ACC already with that,” Braman said.
Harry Mulenga made his indoor track debut for the Seminoles with a 4:07.03 mile; good for 10th all-time among Noles. Ashton Butler registered a personal-best triple jump (14.72m/48-4), while Matt Magee posted a new best in the 800 (1:53.11), as did Grant Nykaza in the 3000 (8:22.53).
On the women’s side, senior Jande Pierce came through with a personal-best 400 (55.47), completing a strong weekend of competition. Milers Bridget Blake (4:50.96) and Courteney West (5:05.37) clocked personal-best times.
“We got some things done here,” Braman said. “All we’re looking for right now is to compete hard and not allow the moment swallow us up. It’s not a coincidence that the older the athlete the better they’re performing right now.
“There’s no question that it’s a glass half-something and I’d like to look at it half-full. I think our attitude and our excitement about today is pretty good.”