TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State’s Jogaile Petrokaite got her junior season off to the flying start – literally – at the season-opening Clemson Invitational. That was good enough to earn her ACC Field Event Performer of the Week Honors for the first time in her career.
The 2016 NCAA Outdoor All-American and ACC long jump runner-up from Lithuania opened the season by soaring 6.31 meters (20-8.5) on her third attempt to post a victory over the field of 18 competitors. It was the best season-opening mark of Petrokaite’s career and just off her lifetime indoor best of 6.34 meters.
“Jojo’s mark was comparable to what she did at midseason last year, and a really great way to start the season,” FSU coach Bob Braman said.
Petrokaite’s mark ranks eighth nationally on the descending order list and positions her well for a return to the NCAA Indoor Championships for a second consecutive year. It also stands as the early-season ACC-leading standard.
The Seminoles performed exceptionally well in the season-opening meet, posting six victories between the men and women to go along with six new additions to FSU’s all-time top 10 indoor list. In all, there were 38 personal-best marks established by the Noles.
Darryl Haraway (60-meter dash), Jamal Pitts (200-meter dash), Shauna Helps (200-meter dash) and Emmanuel Onyia (shot put) also posted ACC -leading marks in the opening meet, with Haraway and Helps recording victories.
Other winners at Clemson included Gleneve Grange (shot put), Emily Edwards (mile) and Bryce Kelley (3000).
Florida State will return to action Friday and Saturday at the Larry Wieczorek Invite at the University of Iowa, competing against the host Hawkeyes as well as Iowa State and Northern Iowa. The meet will be contested on Iowa’s new indoor 200-meter banked track, which was purchased from Portland, where it was the competitive surface for the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships.
The meet will feature the season-debuts of host of Noles, including 2016 Olympian Kellion Knibb (shot put), Mike Long Track hammer record-holder Veronika Kanuchova (weight throw), NCAA cross country qualifier Carmela Cardama Baez,, Bulgarian Olympian Militsa Mircheva and 2016 NCAA steeplechase qualifier Bridget Blake (3000), Italian national runner-up Eleonora Omoregie and Bethune-Cookman transfer Ed’Ricus Williams (high jump), Peta-Gay Williams (60-meter hurdles) and freshman football contributor Carlos Becker (long jump).
Signees Leading Nation
A pair of Florida State signees from the state of Alabama – Trey Cunningham and Jayla Kirkland – are setting the high school indoor track circuit on its ear in the early going.
Competing in the MLK Games Monday at the Birmingham CrossPlex, Cunningham and Kirkland each scored a pair of individual event wins, and each posted national-leading marks.
Cunningham lowered his nation-leading 60-meter hurdle debut in December to 7.59 seconds, which is the third-fastest time recorded in that event in high school history. He came back to win the 60-meter dash in 6.86 seconds – third-ranked nationally – and narrowly missed the track record held by his future teammate, current FSU sophomore Darryl Haraway (6.84).
Kirkland was equally impressive, winning the 400-meter dash in a nation-leading time of 54.43, while adding a victory in the 60-meter dash in 7.52, which was also a meet record. Kirkland ranks third nationally in the 60 on the strength of her 7.48 earlier this season.
Those performances came just two days after chasing another nation-leading mark in the 300-meter dash when she was held off at the finish of the Virginia Showcase by Lynna Irby as ran 38.06 and 38.16 on the Liberty University campus. They ranks 2-3 nationally behind high school Olympian Sydney McLaughlin.
Another Seminole fall signee, Shamon Ehiemua of Fort Bend Marshall (Texas), is currently ranked third nationally in the 200-meter dash after running 21.29 at the Texas A&M High School Classic on Jan. 7.