EUGENE, Ore. – With sophomore Cortney Jones and freshman Ka’Tia Seymour rising to the occasion on a rain-soaked Saturday, the Florida State women’s track & field bid farewell to Historic Hayward Field with a 14th-place finish at NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Jones’ bronze medal in the 100-meter hurdles, the best finish ever by a Seminole in the event, and Seymour’s fourth-place 200-meter dash performance accounted for 11 of the teams’ 18 total points. More importantly, at least from a forward-looking perspective, the Noles will return everyone who contributed to those points in 2019.
“I’m so excited for our ladies,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “We’re extremely young and the future is really bright. Ka’Tia and Cortney were huge for us. That’s the best talent in the world and those two are so young.”
Save for junior Shauna Helps, who handled the second leg on Saturday’s eighth-place 4×100 relay finish, freshmen and sophomores were responsible for all the scoring. Freshman Lauri Paredes Meza was third in the javelin, which was completed on Thursday. Freshman Jayla Kirkland led off the 4×100 relay, which in addition to Helps, also included Jones and Seymour.
Not only are the Noles young and talented, but they embraced the big stage, which included a crowd of 12,998 on hand for the final competition at the soon-to-be-razed University of Oregon landmark.
Neither Jones nor Seymour, seeded 13th and 14th, respectively, were projected to be in the final. Jones got there by dropping a lifetime-best (12.86) in Thursday’s semifinal – the fastest collegiate competition time in program history – then handled a driving rain and much of the ballyhooed eight-woman field.
“It’s definitely a drive,” Jones said of her underdog status. “I have something to prove. All the way through high school I had something to prove…In prelims they barely talked about me. They were talking about someone else who didn’t even make the finals.
“I’m grateful to prove to people that I’m meant to be here. That just an amazing feeling.”
It’s the second time this season the Georgia native has proven she belongs in the conversation among the nation’s elite hurdlers. She finished fourth at the NCAA Indoor Championships in the 60-meter hurdles.
“Cortney Jones is as phenomenal competitor,” Braman said. “She always overcomes adversity and today was her final exam. I’d give her an A-plus for that race.”
Jones closed fast, following defending champion and Olympian Jasmine Camacho-Quinn or Kentucky (12.70) and Purdue’s Devynne Charlton (12.77) across the line in 13.04, edging Texas’ Pedrya Seymour by .002 seconds for bronze.
“I knew at hurdle eight I kind of had to pick it up if I wanted to place top-three,” Jones said. “I kind of saw everybody out of my peripheral view. I just knew I had to keep up with Devynne and Jasmine.”
FSU’s Seymour did not have the benefit of peripheral vision in the 200-meter final. Breaking from the blocks out of lane eight, she didn’t see anyone until eventual champion Anglerne Annelus – running in lane seven – pulled alongside of her with about 80 meters to go.
The reason? Seymour led off the curve.
“She [Annelus] actually was chasing me,” Seymour said. “I had no one to chase after, so she paced off me.
“Lane eight is now joke…You really have to focus on yourself and get out and go. You can’t see anyone so there’s not much you can do. You’ve just got to get out and get it.”
Seymour finished in 23.10; a solid time into a -2.3 headwind. Annelus won in 22.76, followed by the favorites Gabrielle Thomas of Harvard (22.86) and Georgia’s Lynna Irby (22.92). Behind Seymour were a quartet of All-American upperclassmen.
It was the highest finish in the 200-meter dash by an FSU woman since Michelle Finn was the runner-up in 1985. Seymour was also the first Seminole to score in the event since 1987.
“It’s not bad at all,” Seymour said, when asked if she was pleased with the outcome. “There’s more to come.”
The day began with an eighth-place finish in the 4×100 relay in 44.30; well off their semifinal qualifying round 43.60.
“The 4×1 wasn’t as amazing as we wanted it to be, but we know that next year is going to be different,”
“I’m really proud of those relay ladies,” Braman said. “Shauna and Cortney are really banged up and making the final was spectacular. Next year we’ll be in the mix for a top-three finish.”
Torrential rains pelted discus competitors Ieva Zarankaite and Shanice Love, and had a huge effect on the qualifying. Zarankaite got off an opening-round throw of 53.80 meters (176-6) in flight one, which qualified her for the finals in ninth. Love was not as fortunate, she followed a pair of fouls in a torrential rain with a third-round throw of 50.43 meters (165-5), which left her in 14th-place and a second-team All-American for the second consecutive year.
Zarankaite was unable to improve on her position in the finals.
“Ieva competed really well,” Braman said. “I felt really bad for Shanice. That’s the worst conditions I’ve ever seen for a discus competition. There’s simply no way to prepare for it.”