FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Corion Knight arrived at Florida State as a senior transfer from Florida Memorial University, an NAIA school in Miami, where he earned most of his notoriety as a high jumper but was also accomplished in the long jump.
Following Friday night’s winning long jump performance at the Tyson Invitational, the Crawfordville native is one of the finest in Florida State history – and in 2018 – in the nation.
Overcoming a pair of early fouls, Knight nailed down a spot in the finals with an indoor personal-best third attempt, then launched himself into a different stratosphere on his sixth and final leap.
Touching down at 8.02 meters (26-3.75), Knight sailed to No. 2 nationally and a share of No. 2 all-time at Florida State. Only Olympic and World Champion finalist Nngoni Makusha has jumped farther indoors as a Seminole. Makusha holds the FSU record at 8.21m (26-11.25), which he set in 2009.
Knight now owns a share of the No. 2 spot alongside Brian Chibudu, whose 8.02 leap came in 2010.
“We worked two weeks super hard and this is actually my first meet back at 100 percent,” Knight said, still basking in a mark which will earn him a trip to the NCAA Indoor Championships. “We hit weights extra hard. We planned for it, but we didn’t expect eight meters at all.”
As it turned out Knight’s third-attempt leap of 7.64 meters (25-0.75), eclipsing his previous indoor best of 7.57m (24-10), was a harbinger of things to come.
“It was a little bit of a shock,” said FSU first-year jumps coach Keith Herston. “I knew he could jump far, though. We don’t focus as much on long jump as high jump. I knew he was ready to do something special. He’s been a lot more focused in practice and it has really shown.
“My bags were packed. I was ready to go if he was ready to go. He showed up and showed out today and proved to the country that he’s ready to make a statement in two events.”
Perhaps most remarkable about Knight’s performance in the open long jump competition, was it turned out to be the best mark of the night, beating the entire 12-man field in the touted Invitational section.
“Honestly that was like an unconscious jump,” he said of his winning leap. “I felt like I didn’t jump anything spectacular.”
Herston’s Noles were well-represented in both as all five entrants advanced to the finals. That includes graduate transfer Kenneth Fisher, who broke a five-year-old personal best on his way to a a runner-up finish in the Invitational long jump.
Fisher’s fifth-attempt 7.81-meter leap (25-7.5), moved him to No. 10 on the NCAA list – the top 16 at the end of the season advance to the NCAA Championships – and No. 7 all-time among Seminoles.
Herston believes the breakthrough can pay big dividends for Fisher, whose next shot at sealing an NCAA berth will come at the ACC Championships in two weeks.
“It makes a huge difference,” Herston said. “Track & field is all about confidence and that’s what I try to instill in everybody; confidence in themselves, confidence in me and confidence in their team. What he did today, making a breakthrough after five years of hard training and doing the best he possibly could and still not getting that mark, he knows we’re doing the right things. The team has his back and is supporting him and what we’re doing is right for him.”
While Fisher will turn his attention to the triple jump Saturday, Knight has his sights on the Invitational section of the high jump. With a personal-best of 2.16 meters (7-1), he will likely need to clear another bar – or two – in order to pull double-duty at the NCAA Indoor Championships next month.
“I’m excited for tomorrow because when I do good in the long jump I always do better in the high jump,” Knight said.
Friday’s competition also marked the debut for freshman Jakub Andrzejczak, whose opening leap of 7.44 meters (24-5) was good for a seventh-place finish in the Invitational section and second-best among Noles at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
“He’s coming back from injury and this is his opener, which is not a bad opener,” Herston said of the young star from Poland. “The mark’s not that bad, but of course it’s not what he wants and that’s a positive thing. We’re hungry and we’re going to go back to the drawing board and be ready for ACC’s in two weeks.”
The Noles came away from the first day of competition with six personal-best performances, and next to the performances of Knight and Fisher, none was bigger than sophomore Cortney Jones’ 8.16 run to a fifth-place finish in the 60-meter hurdle finals.
Coming off a knee injury which denied her a full fall of training, Jones advanced to the finals with a season-best (8.21), then took it to another level against a blazing field in the finals.
“I didn’t train at all last fall, so I feel like my progression is moving like I want it to,” said Jones, who hopes to improve on her 2017 third-place ACC Championships finish and earn a spot at the NCAA Championships. “Going from prelims, I didn’t execute everything like I wanted to execute. In the finals I felt like I hit my marks and did what I what I was supposed to do and the time came with it.
“That’s really all I’m trying to worry about, execution, and not about time. If I execute the time will follow.”
Jones jumped from No. 22 to a share of No. 13 on the national list, behind four hurdlers who were already ranked ahead of her.
“It definitely helped to have the competition,” Jones said. “Competition pushes you to do well and helps motivate you. The atmosphere of the entire crowd and running in a field with an Olympian and one of the top [hurdlers] in the world really helped me.”
Among other Noles registering new personal-bests, freshman 400-meter runner Calvin Golson cut loose his fastest time (47.46) – indoor or outdoor – in his first open 400 of the season. It was also good for an automatic qualifying time for the ACC Championships.
Freshmen Jennifer Lima (5:08.97, mile) and Elizabeth Jenkins (2:15.64, 800) accounted for the other personal-bests.
The day wasn’t quite as kind to classmate Trey Cunningham, who was fifth in the 60-meter hurdle finals (7.84).
Mircheva Breaks Bulgarian National 5k Record
Junior Militsa Mircheva turned in one of the gutsiest performances by an FSU distance runner in the program’s storied history. Running all alone from the start in the fast section of the David Hemery Valentine Invitational 5,000, she set the Bulgarian national record, winning in 16:07.12.
It’s also the No. 15 team collegiately this season, and the fourth-fastest ever by a Seminole.
Mircheva, whose previous indoor best at the distance was 17:05.39, had her eyes set on a breakout 5000 for some time. And she didn’t disappoint, bolting from the pack just three laps into the 25-lap affair at Boston University Track & Tennis Center.
After posting the No. 2 time in the ACC this season, Mircheva has qualified for the conference meet in three events and ranks among the top nine in all of them.
Senior Emily Edwards led a trio of Seminoles posting personal-best performances in the mile Friday night as well.
Edwards pared three seconds off her previous best, placing second overall in the third in 4:45.84, securing an automatic qualifying time for the ACC Indoor Championships in two weeks. Sophomore Maudie Skyring finished fifth in the same heat, also meeting the ACC standard (4:49.31). Junior Madison Harris whacked six seconds off her previous best to finish fifth in heat four (4:54.64).
Freshman Jodie Judd also registered a personal-best in the 3000, finishing in 9:37.29, while sophomore Ginelle DeMone ran her fastest 800 of the season (2:11.08) earlier in the day.
“Emily came into today’s race on a mission and it showed the second the race went off,” FSU women’s distance coach Kelly Phillips said. “Jodie, while it was an ugly way to run a PR, it was still a good race. She just needs to learn to stay focused for the last 600.”
FSU’s distance men take over the action Saturday in Boston.