CLEMSON, S.C. – Freshman distance runner Caleb Pottorff won his collegiate debut and senior shot putters Austin Droogsma and Gleneve Grange turned in strong runner-up efforts as the Florida State track & field teams opened the indoor season Saturday at the Orange & Purple Invitational.
In the penultimate event of the day Pottorff ran past Gabe Haughey with just under three laps remaining in the 3,000-meter run and pulled away for a comfortable five-second victory in 8:24.28.
“Caleb Pottorff ran really well,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “The plan was to try and win the race so that probably cost him a PB, but to win you collegiate debut is pretty stout.”
Droogsma didn’t win – he was second to former Georgia star Ashina Miller – but he did produce the best season-opening mark of his career and the No. 2 mark nationally. The redshirt senior unloaded a sixth-attempt throw of 19.06 meters (62-6.5), his second 19-meter mark of the day, to place second.
Grange followed with the best season-opener of her career – 16.16 meters (53-0.75) – to finish second.
“Austin’s opener might be good enough to make nationals and that’s incredible for first weekend in January,” Braman said. “GG also impressed me. Anything over 16 meters this early projects to an appearance at nationals.”
Junior Shauna Helps supplied the Noles with their third runner-up finish of the day, finishing the 200-meter dash in 23.82. Helps fastest season-opener of her career stands as the No. 2 collegiate time in the country, which left her just behind USA national team member Joanna Atkins’ winning 23.58.
“Shauna Helps looked as strong as I’ve ever seen her and that’s really exciting,” Braman added. “She’s really coming into her own as an elite sprinter.”
While that quartet posted the top finishes of the day for the Noles, they weren’t alone when it came to solid openers.
First-year jumps coach Keith Herston saw his group deliver some promising results in the men’s long jump and triple jump. Three of FSU’s five long jump entries posted career-best marks as the Noles grabbed three of the top six finishing positions.
Bethune-Cookman graduate transfer Kenneth Fisher was third (7.52m/24-8.25) and followed by fifth-place Armani Wallace (7.40/24-3.5) and sixth place Corian Knight (7.39/24-3), a transfer from Florida Memorial by way of Wakulla High School.
Wallace, the ACC Outdoor champion, recorded an indoor personal-best as did sophomore multi-eventer Dante Newberg and freshman Qayyim Ali, with matching marks of 6.91m (22-8).
The Noles enjoyed similar success in the triple jump as senior All-American Montel Nevers led a 4-6 finish by FSU athletes with an opening 15.28 (50-1.75). He was followed by junior Ashton Butler (15.00/49-2.5) and freshman Jacore Irving (14.79/48-6.25). Butler’s mark was an indoor personal-best while Irving’s collegiate debut was more than a meter longer than his outdoor legal best at Sneads High.
“The jumpers did a nice job,” Braman said. “We got some indoor PB’s and several best-ever opening meet marks. Kenneth Fisher showed that he’ll be a national qualifier, perhaps before the month’s over.”
Among the other strong field event performances, junior Brandon Tirado finished fourth in the weight throw (18.31m/60-1), while pole vaulters Nicole Breske and Elizabeth Eversole each cleared 3.55 meters (11-7.75) to finish 3-4.
“Overall, our field event athletes are ahead of last year and our runners are a bit behind them, comparatively,” Braman said.
On the track, freshman Tyricke Dickens appeared unfazed by his surroundings in the first indoor meet of his life. The former Godby High star qualified for the finals of the 60-meter hurdles with the No. 10 time (8.08) in program history, and finished seventh in the finale (8.11) after clipping the first hurdle.
Newberg added his second personal-best of the day in the 60-meter hurdles (8.39).
Junior All-American Darryl Haraway slipped into the finals of the 60-meter dash, despite being caught off-guard by a quick gun in a preliminary round 6.84. The 2017 ACC champion lowered his time to 6.76 for seventh in the final.
The next-best finish by the FSU men on the track was Bert Freire’s fourth-place finish against a loaded 800-meter field in 1:53.33.
“Tyricke showed the kind of moxie you don’t often see in a freshman,” Braman said. “Darryl and Humberto were both strong for a first meet.”
On the women’s side, junior Madison Harris finished her mile debut with a hard charge to place third in 5:00.88, followed immediately across the line by sophomore Ginelle DeMone in a personal-best 5:06.17. Freshman Elizabeth Jenkins’ indoor debut produced a solid 5:09.95 for seventh in a field of 21. Including junior Althea Hewitt’s seventh-place 3,000-meter finish (10:18.16), six of coach Kelly Phillips’ seven distance runners posted personal-bests.
The Noles will get in two weeks of work before returning to action with a trip to Iowa City, Iowa for the Larry Wieczorek Invitational, Jan. 19.20.