TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Kellion Knibb took down a 30-year-old Mike Long Track record in the women’s discus and Jogaile Petrokaite posted the nation’s No. 6 long jump in NCAA Division I this season, highlighting a strong opening day performance by the Florida State track & field teams at Friday’s Seminole Invitational. Erasing the longest-standing women’s record in facility history, Knibb won the discus with a toss of 57.99 meters (190-3), bettering the mark of Alabama’s Kathy Landry (57.68m/189-3) which had stood since 1986.
Graduate student Sasha-Ann Lebert’s season-best 49.36m (161-11) was good for fourth, not far behind unattached Seminole Gleneve Grange’s runner-up finish in 54.86m (180-0).
Winning wasn’t in the cards for Petrokaite, but the sophomore from Lithuania, was smiling from ear-to-ear following her lifetime-best leap of 6.40 meters (21-0). Not only did the 2015 NCAA qualifier smash her previous best of 6.33, but she was only second because Rutgers’ Gabrielle Farquharson was posting the nation’s top mark this season (6.54) en route to victory.
“We had some pretty big highlights, but JoJo’s long jump is pretty stout,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “I figured it was top 10 in the country. That was a really good women’s long jump. For her to hit that big PB, now she’s got it behind her…That’s great for JoJo. She’s such a consummate worker.”
Petrokaite moved into a tie for sixth place on FSU’s all-time top 10 list outdoors, joining teammate Der’Renae Freeman, who did not compete.
The highlights didn’t stop there for the Noles. Florida State’s Veronika Kanuchova, competing unattached as she sits out this season according to NCAA rules, began the day by taking down a 13-year-old track record in the women’s hammer. Unleashing a pair of new personal-best marks in a strong series, Kanuchova removed Florida’s Candice Scott from the record books with a winning toss of 68.58 meters (225-0), erasing the previous mark of 67.13m (220-3) which was set in 2003.
“This is not the launching pad for the hammer throw, so when you throw big here it’s considered really big,” Braman said.
Eight other Seminoles were posting lifetime-best marks by the end of the night at the meet featuring 18 teams, including 10 Division I schools.
Placing fifth in the men’s hammer, freshman Brandon Tirado was knocking down a new personal-best of 56.42 meters (185-1).
Behind junior Chadrick DaCosta’s second-place finish in the discus (52.36m/171-9), redshirt freshman Fred Jones’ collegiate debut of 50.61m (166-0) was good for fourth place. Junior Emmanuel Onyia, coming off January surgery, was fifth making his season debut with a throw of 48.71m (159-9). Decathlete Dante Newberg recorded three marks over his previous career-best, with a top mark of 33.15m (108-9).
Matching his outdoor career-best in the 800 (1:48.55), Jake Burton was leading a parade of Seminoles in across the finish line. Following Burton were senior teammate Otniel Teixeira (1:49.37) and unattached Seminole Harry Mulenga (1:49.77) in second and third. Sophomore Matt Butler was sixth in a personal-best of 1:51.01.
FSU’s distance runners weren’t getting left behind in the personal-best parade as five of nine entrants in the women’s 5000-meter run were registering the fastest times of their career. Freshman Fatema Jaffer was leading that group, placing seventh in 17:46.63; nearly a 30-second improvement over her previous best. Junior Tara Rooney (18:08.85) and sophomore Marianne Aquilar (18:18.95) were adding personal-bests, along with Anne Kennedy and Brittany Carey.
On the men’s side, fifth-year senior William Bridges was narrowly missing a personal-best in the 5000, finishing in 15:07.14. His fastest time in three years was good for fourth place.
Grete Sadeiko’s season-best in the women’s high jump (1.69m/5-6.50) was good for a fourth-place finish, while Keniel Grant brought home a third-place finish in the men’s long jump (7.33m/24-7).
Saturday’s competition begins with the javelin at 10 a.m. with the track action starting at 12:05 p.m. and the highly-anticipated 100-meter hurdles, featuring Olympian and former Nole Anne Zagre and a host of current Seminoles including Meme Jean, Nicole Setterington and Peta-Gay Williams.
With the sprint events taking center stage, two-time Olympic bronze medalist and former Seminole legend Walter Dix will be facing extraordinary fields in both the 100 and 200. Former FSU All-American’s Dentarius Locke and James Harris are among the competitors, as well as members of the Seminoles strong freshman class, led by Darry Haraway and Edward Clarke.
In addition to the action on the track, 26 seniors with expiring eligibility will be recognized in an 11:40 a.m. ceremony.
“You kind of get the feel, that the vibe of the team – those watching and competing – is really good,” Braman said, summarizing day one of action. “People are sensing they are going to go out and get some things done tomorrow. It was a good set-up day for sure.”