CORAL GABLES, Fla. – In a matter of minutes Friday at Miami’s Cobb Stadium, the Florida State men “leapt and shot” from the middle of the ACC Outdoor Track & Field Championship standings to the top, which is where they will begin their quest for a 12th conference title on Saturday.
Just as they did three months ago on the way to the ACC Indoor title, the Noles men dominated the long jump with a 1-2-3 finish, led by senior Corion Knight’s winning final attempt bust of 8.06 meters (26-5.5). Kenneth Fisher and Armani Wallace followed close behind and Keniel Grant chipped in a seventh-place effort with a season-best mark.
On their way to the awards podium they met senior Austin Droogsma, who there to collect his shot put gold, following a winning throw of 20.02 meters (65-8.25).
Those 36 points were decisive in the Noles’ day-ending 54-48 advantage over Louisville, with Syracuse (41) and two-time defending champion Virginia Tech (37.5) close behind.
“The jumpers were simply fantastic today,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “They earned the only sweep of the meet so far, and Keniel grabbed two more points as well. Droogs was his usual beast self and I never take those points for granted. Dante [Newberg] managed to finish the decathlon on one good leg and that was big as well.”
Newberg was seventh in the decathlon, surviving the two-day, 10-event ordeal despite a hamstring injury in the second event which took him out of contention.
Then to finish the night, Michael Hall’s second career 3000-meter steeplechase produced another personal-best (8:55.61), and more importantly a five-point, fourth-place finish.
“I was really pleased with Mike’s race,” Braman said. “Those were five big points for us.”
Unlike the men, FSU’s women will be battling from behind, beginning the final day in a fifth-place tie with Duke and 25.5 points. Defending champion Virginia Tech leads with 53 points, followed by Louisville (43.5), Miami (38) and Virginia (32).
The ladies made the most of their lone scoring event as seniors Gleneve Grange and Ieva Zarankaite turned in season- and personal-best marks, respectively, for a 1-2 finish and 18 points.
“Complete domination,” Braman said.
Grange claimed the first ACC title of her career with a throw of 16.89 meters (55-5), which finally turned away Zarankaite (16.58m/54-4.75), who twice took the lead during the competition.
“Mentally I was struggling because I left my [throwing] shoes at the hotel,” said Grange, whose shoes arrived just before the start of competition. “Ieva put on a good show and I had to follow up and do my best.”
Their performances set the tone, one day after Thursday’s disastrous 200-meter qualifying effort threatened to hamper their title hopes.
“I was really pleased with the way our ladies responded with two heat winners in 100-meter qualifying and Cortney also dominating her 100 hurdles heat in victory,” Braman said.
The touted Seminole women’s sprint trio of Ka’Tia Seymour, Jayla Kirkland and Shauna Helps easily advanced to the 100-meter finals. Seymour (11.44) and Kirkland (11.45) won their heats and Helps, the two-time defending ACC champ, advanced on time (11.59). Kirkland was the only one of the group to advance in the 200.
Sophomore Cortney Jones continued her penchant for performing in the clutch, dropping down the fastest 100-meter hurdles mark (13.19) from the field. Those four will join Thursday 1500-meter qualifier Maudie Skyring.
The Noles also expect contributions in the women’s discus, 4×100 relay, javelin and 5000-meter run.
“Miami had another good day and we’re still chasing, but we positioned ourselves well for a run at the title,” Braman added.
FSU’s men qualified with quality, if not quantity, with Trey Cunningham (13.75) and Tyricke Dickens (14.20) advancing to the 110-meter hurdle finals as the first and fifth seeds, respectively. Andre Ewers’ encore to Thursday’s leading 200-meter qualifying performance was a field-best 10.30 in the 100-meter dash, followed closely by Darryl Haraway’s 10.36; the second-fastest time.
In addition to the Friday qualifiers, the Noles will also look to David Barney in the 1500-meter finals and Dickens in the 400-meter hurdles. Those qualifiers will be supported by projected scoring opportunities in the triple jump, 4×100 relay and discus.
“I really liked the way Darryl Haraway looked today,” Braman said. “He looked like the former ACC Athlete of the Year and that’ll be important in the 100-meter final and on the relay.
“Andre Ewers will have a busy day tomorrow, so I’m glad that he looked so good and in control.
We missed a few opportunities but we really didn’t underperform and give up any ground.
I’m pleased that we did our job on moving day.”
Saturday’s competition begins with the men’s javelin at 11 a.m. and ACC Network Extra will begin its live stream of all the finals at 6 p.m.