January 23, 2016 - by
Noles Build Momentum With Strong Conference Clash Showing

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – With contributions coming from a variety of event areas, Florida State’s indoor track & field teams left Saturday’s Conference Clash at the Birmingham CrossPlex with some early-season momentum.

Long jumper Der’Renae Freeman and Bristish-born middle distance standouts Georgia Peel and Chelsea Jarvis capped an especially productive weekend for the Seminole women with second-place finishes, while hurdler Meme Jean added a third-place finish.

Freshman sprinter Edward Clarke provided the FSU men with their top finish of the weekend, finishing third in the 60-meter dash finals.

In all, the Seminoles finished the two-day meet pitting the SEC against other Power Four conference programs competing, with six ACC-leading performances.

“Der’Renae was spectacular this weekend,” FSU coach Bob Braman said of his senior All-American. “Her long jump is really strong on the runway and her 60-meter sprint is really coming along.”

It took a nation-leading mark by the defending outdoor national champion to beat Freeman, who recorded the second-best indoor mark of her career. Freeman sailed 6.35 meters (20-10) – her best indoor mark in two seasons – to finish behind Alabama’s Quanesha Banks. Banks landed a 6.71m (22-0.25) mark on her final attempt of the competition.

“I feel real blessed; I feel real good,” said Freeman, who came up one position short of qualifying for last year’s NCAA Indoor Championships. Now she owns the nation’s fourth-best mark and carries plenty of momentum moving forward.

“It’s exciting to know the season is going to be a great one because I’ve worked hard and all the hard work is coming to pass.”

Clarke ran 6.79 on Friday to advance to the finals, and matched that time in Saturday’s finale, running down USC’s Adoree Jackson and Texas’ Aldrich Bailey over the final 20 meters to claim the bronze.

“I can’t say enough about Edward,” said Braman, after Clarke put down the No. 2 time in the ACC this season. “He beat some really good sprinters. Third-place in his 60-meter collegiate debut at a meet of this caliber is pretty stout.”

“I can say I’m satisfied to an extent,” Clarke said. “I’m looking forward to being even better. It’s my second track meet, so I can’t question myself. I expect to do better than the previous meet. I’ve just got to train harder.”

Jean and Nicole Setterington represented the Seminoles well in the 60-meter hurdle finals, finishing third and fifth. Jean overcame a slow start to post a season-best time of 6.32 – tops in the ACC this season – while Setterington closed in 6.48.

“Meme had another strong race,” Braman said of the Charleston Southern transfer. “She beat some All-SEC hurdlers on her way to a third-place finish.”

The Seminole women were especially productive in the distance events all weekend and Saturday was no exception. One day after Christine Griggs and the distance medley relay delivered runner-up finishes, Peel and Jarvis – members of the DMR – followed suit.

Racing in the fast heat of the mile, Peel and teammate Bridget Blake, methodically mowed through the field over the final 800. Peel’s late surge – she closed in 33 seconds around the 200-meter banked track – produced an ACC-leading time of 4:49.87, as she merely ran out of space in her attempt to run down Vanderbilt’s Katherine Delaney (4:49.35).

Blake, who anchored the DMR in 4:45 on Friday, backed it up with a personal-best 4:52.11 for fifth place.

“Georgia Peel ran well and nearly pulled off a come-from-behind victory and Bridget Blake had a really nice double with her personal-best [1600] anchor in the DMR and backing it up with a PR in the open mile today.”

Jarvis, celebrating her 20th birthday, added her own ACC-leading performance in the 800 one day after leading off the DMR with a strong 1200-meter leg. The sophomore finished off a negative-split performance by closing in 31.5 for a time of 2:08.45, nearly nipping USC’s Mikaela Smith (2:08.40) at the finish line.

“Chelsea Jarvis had a fantastic weekend as well, very nearly pulling off a big win on her birthday,” Braman added.

Rounding out the highlights, Otniel Teixeira recorded a lifetime-best in the mile (4:07.75) to finish eighth, setting him up well for his specialty later in the season.

“That bodes well for his 800-meter bid for nationals,” Braman said of Teixeira, who now has the top mile time in the ACC.

Chad DaCosta placed 11th in the shot put (17.27m/56-8), which was just off his lifetime-best.

The scoring contributions from the Seminole women enabled the collection of seven competing Power Four schools to edge the eight SEC teams, 85.5-84.5 in the dual-meet scored Conference Challenge. The SEC men held the upper hand, 91-74.

FSU will return to action next weekend at the Razorback Invitational in another scored meet, which will feature 15 of the top programs in the country.

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