NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Chopping down a 10-year-old school record with a silver medal performance in Thursday’s final event, the Florida State men’s distance medley relay team provided the Seminoles with plenty momentum heading into Day 2 of the Atlantic Coast Conference Indoor Championships.
The Noles quartet of Harry Mulenga, Steven Simpkins, Humberto Freire and Michael Hall not only took the best shot from a loaded field at Notre Dame’s Loftus Sports Center, but delivered their own blows, finishing second to Virginia Tech in 9:33.39.
“That feels so great, so huge, so amazing,” said Mulenga, who set the tone with a leadoff 1200-meter leg of 2:54 that put the Noles firmly in the top three, delivering on a promise he made to coach Bob Braman at the team meeting Wednesday night.
“I told him, ‘I think I can be a good starter. If I get a good start and try and put 2:50-something for the guys and give the baton to the 400 guy, I think we’ll have a good chance to score good points.’ We did it today.”
Simpkins, a freshman from the Tallahassee area, split 47.8 seconds for the 400-meter second leg and turned it over to Freire, another freshman, who delivered a 1:49 800-meter split. From there, Hall, a redshirt sophomore competing in his first indoor season, dropped a 4:01.92 1600-meter anchor.
That smashed the record set by Mark Buckingham, Tywayne Buchanan, Kenny Jesensky and Tom Lancashire (9:37.26) set in 2007.
“That was a lot of fun,” Braman said, through a beaming smile. “It was as good as we could be. And it’s a momentum thing. You feed off each other.”
Their performance came on the heels of an inspiring fourth-place effort by the women’s DMR team of Emily Edwards, Kimmie Cunningham, Madison Harris and Bridget Blake. Entering the meet as the No. 10 seed in the 11-team field, Edwards put the Noles in the hunt with a 3:27 leadoff leg. Cunningham blistered a 56.8 400 and Harris followed with a 2:11.7 800. Blake brought the baton home with a 4:41.9 anchor for a huge season-best time of 11:18.62.
“I loved the way the women’s distance medley competed,” Braman said. “We came in ranked 10th and got fourth. When you watched us compete, we really maximized it.”
Sophomore Brandon Tirado also maximized his opportunity in the weight throw. Seeded eighth overall with a lifetime-best of 18.75 meters (61-6.25), Tirado responded with five of six throws carrying more than 19 meters, including his personal-best of 19.24 (63-1), to place seventh.
The Seminole men closed the first day of competition with 10 points and are tied with defending champion Virginia Tech for third behind Virginia (15) and Notre Dame (11), and the promise for more points on the horizon.
Sophomore Dante Newberg positioned himself well to add to that total in the heptathlon. Newberg parlayed personal-best performances in 60-meter dash (7.01), long jump (6.83m/22-5) and shot put (12.66m/41-6.5) into a first-day, career-best of 2,987 points and is in third place with the final three events to be contested on Friday.
Melissa-Maree Farrington put the Seminole women on the scoreboard first, placing third in the pentathlon with a lifetime-best of 4,086 points. It wasn’t the result, however, that the senior from Australia was looking to produce.
“Each event was just a little short of what I can do and was hoping to do,” said Farrington, who came in as the top seed. “Nothing was bad, there were just no home runs.”
The Seminole women stand alone in third place with 11 points, behind Louisville (26) and defending champion Miami (22).
“I’m hungry to come back and redeem myself, make the [60-meter hurdles] final, get a couple points for the team and make up for losing a couple points in the pentathlon,” said Farrington, who will compete in Friday’s hurdles prelims. “It’s redemption.”