June 13, 2014
EUGENE, Ore. – With sophomore Kellion Knibb making a little history Thursday at Historic Hayward Field, the Florida State track & field teams have their first points of the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Knibb became the first Seminole to score at the championships in the women’s discus in school history, placing fifth on the strength of her second attempt throw of 55.06 meters (180-8).
“Even though I didn’t do as well as I wanted I came out as an All-American, so I’m pretty happy with my performance,” said Knibb, who was the first Seminole to reach the finals in the discus since Makiba Batten in 2000. “On the second throw I was trying to make the finals because the first throw wasn’t all that good.”
Trailing only eventual champions Shelbi Vaughn of Texas A&M entering the finals, Knibb was still clinging to third place entering the final round of throws, when she was eclipsed by two others. That led to her disappointment, but does not temper what promises to be a bright future, moving forward after grabbing first-team All-American honors.
“For Kellion to go from not qualifying (for NCAAs in 2013) to fifth-place is a credit to her toughness and resolve,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “She’s that good [to be disappointed]. She’s going to compete for a national championship and think she felt like she could as well today. …
“She’s the first-ever to do that for the Seminoles, but by the time she’s done that will be a footnote. That won’t be her high-water mark. She has a fantastic future ahead of her.”
As for the Seminoles’ future at this year’s NCAA Championships, Anne Zagre and Linden Hall were busy providing some uplifting moments, advancing to Saturday’s finals in the 100-meter hurdles and 1500-meter run, respectively.
Hall was the first to hit the track, competing in a loaded second heat and she left no doubt from the start that returning to the finals for a second consecutive year – after placing ninth last year – was firmly within her grasp. The Australia native’s third-place first heat finish in 4:17.58, which was third-fastest among all 12 qualifiers, positions her well for a run at the podium. It also puts to rest the disappointment of not getting to the finals at the NCAA Indoor Championships in the mile.
“I feel like I learned a lot least year being here and running at regionals,” Hall said. “After indoors, I definitely came here with, `I’m not letting that happen again.’ It was an awful feeling and took a long time to get over.”
Zagre, a junior who narrowly missed a spot in the finals last year, took control of her own destiny, riding a great start to a second-place finish in the first heat and advancing automatically advancing. Belgium’s national champion laid down a season-best legal time of 12.97 – third-fastest on the day – to secure a berth.
“Anne is firing on all cylinders right now at the right time,” said FSU assistant coach Brandon Hon. “She executed her race plan for the prelims. She doesn’t need to make any real adjustments for the finals; just turn up the volume.”
“She was really, really focused,” Braman said of Hall. “It was not going to happen that she wasn’t going to make the final. She runs really well here at Hayward Field and she looked like when it came time to go and she was able to answer the bell.”
In addition to the bright spots on a sometimes-dreary day, several Seminoles saw their seasons come to a close in disappointing fashion. Junior Paul Madzivire was unable to advance to the long jump finals, with his best mark of 7.35 meters (24-1.24) coming up just .01 shy of the last spot.
The injury forcing Michael Cherry to withdraw from the 400-meter semifinals on Wednesday also took a toll on the 4×400 relay, which ran a respectable 3:10.99 despite a makeshift lineup, drawing the curtain on senior Alonzo Russell‘s career. Russell gave the `Noles the lead after leadoff leg, but teammates Otniel Teixeira, Ricardo Roy and Chris Rose Jr., were unable to hold it.
Freshman Grete Sadeiko‘s high hopes in the heptathlon got off to a shaky start and never improved significantly. She will enter the final three events 242 points out of eighth place, though her Friday schedule does include two of her best events – the long jump and javelin.
Friday’s action will also draw the curtain on the careers of two of Florida State’s most distinguished performers. Dentarius Locke and James Harris will compete in the 100- and 400-meter finals, hoping to put the Seminole men on the scoreboard.
“You’re not going to find two better human beings and two better leaders than those two guys,” Braman said of Locke and Harris. “They care about the rest of the team. All I want them to care about tomorrow is themselves, and I’m sure coach Harnden has prepared them to just focus on their job. Ken does a great job with that and he will have them ready.”
Locke’s bid for a 100-meter national championship is set for 8 p.m. (ET), with Harris to follow at 8:50 p.m. ESPNU will begin broadcasting live at 7:30 p.m.
Sadeiko will kick things off in the long jump at 3:30 p.m. (ET).