TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With Darryl Haraway returning to good health and form, Florida State’s 4×100 relay took a major step forward Saturday at the National Relay Championships.
Haraway was on the leadoff leg as the Noles turned out a season-best time of 39.52, teaming with Andre Ewers, Darryl Gay and Edward Clarke as they finished fourth overall behind Arkansas’ nation-leading 38.59, Florida (39.05) and Kentucky (39.35). Entering the meet tied for 16th nationally, the Noles quartet moved up two spot to No. 14 with more room to grow by tidying up a couple shaky baton passes.
“The men found their best legs and best order, now,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “A healthy Darryl Haraway puts us back into the nationals mix. With better handoffs we’ll definitely be a threat for sub-39 seconds.”
The women’s 4×100 turned in a solid 44.42 performance with a reworked quartet of Jayla Kirkland, Janae Caldwell, Shauna Helps and Ka’Tia Seymour, due to injury, for a sixth-place finish.
“Both relays competed well,” Braman said. “The women have had to make lots of switches due to a ton of injuries but they have a legitimate chance to make nationals in a month.”
The action in Fayetteville began with six of the top nine collegiate triple jumpers in the nation competing in the invitational section at John McDonnell Field. Braman called it, “the best collegiate triple jump” he’s ever seen.
Armani Wallace’s wind-aided season-best of 16.27 meters (53-4.5) was only good enough for sixth place against the star-studded field, while Montel Nevers matched his U.S. collegiate best (15.99m/52-5.5) for eighth place.
“Armani would have won the meet with three of his jumps,” FSU jumps coach Keith Herston said. “He just could not get his foot down on the board.
“Montel had his best in-season jump. He’s working on some technical things and starting to put things together. It’s good to see him put things together. We’re hopeful heading into the championships.”
The top five finishers took over the top five spots on the national descending order list, but Herston and his jumpers did not come away empty-handed.
“They have a lot of confidence coming from this competition,” Herston said. “They’re in the best condition of their careers at this point.”
The women’s 4×400 relay team of Caldwell, Helps, Seymour and Kimmie Cunningham ran 3:41.39, with some promising splits from the quartet, highlighted by 54.9, 54.5 and 54.9 over the final three legs.
“That was a gutsy effort for our ladies,” Braman said. “Shauna and Ka’Tia showed impressive strength for short sprinters.”
At the 124th Penn Relays, Austin Droogsma did not make the finals of the invitational section of the men’s discus on Saturday, but he did walk away with the College Men’s Athlete of the Meet for Individual Events award. The redshirt senior won the invitational shot put on Friday with a throw of 20.19 meters (66-2.75), the second-best mark in the last 10 years of the world’s largest and oldest competition.
Droogsma is the third Seminole in as many years to walk off with Athlete of the Meet honors, following discus standout Kellion Knibb, whose record-setting performances led to the College Women’s award in 2016 and 2017.
In the shadow of historic Franklin Field, FSU sophomore Noah Agwu recorded a personal-best of 53.72 meters (176-2) to finish fifth in the invitational discus. Brandon Tirado was seventh in the hammer (59.49m/195-7).
With the ACC Outdoor Championships looming May 8-10 in Coral Gables, FSU will wrap up the regular season at home on Friday at the Seminole Twilight, which will include the recognition of the seniors at 12 p.m.