EUGENE, Ore. – Florida State’s Stefan Brits and Zak Seddon arrived at the NCAA Outdoor Championships with championship aspirations in their final collegiate meet.
Only one of them will have that opportunity.
After testing the hamstring he aggravated at the NCAA East Preliminary meet, Brits withdrew from Wednesday’s long jump.
“My heart breaks for Stefan,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “He’s as fine a scholar-athlete as you could ever ask for and the only thing he hasn’t conquered in his life is bad luck.”
Seddon, however, was extending his career as a Seminole one more race, qualifying for Friday’s 3,000-meter steeplechase final by placing fourth in the second heat in 8:36.77.
While Seddon will rest up for his shot at improving on last year’s eighth-place finish at the NCAA Championships in his specialty, Brits reluctantly will turn his attention to getting completely healthy in time to represent South Africa at the Olympic Games.
“Straining the hamstring and giving it only 13 days to go and compete, anybody would probably tell you it’s impossible,” said Brits, who was unable to do anything more than stride at 60 percent on Tuesday. “I’m the type of person that whoever I represent I’m going to do it at the fullest. I’m going to say that it’s possible until you tell me that there’s zero-percent chance. It’s never a no until it’s a complete no. I tried my absolute best to represent Florida State to the fullest my last time, but unfortunately it was not to be.”
Brits came into the meet with the nation’s top jump – 8.22 meters (26-11.75) – and his season goals in the crosshairs.
“I said in January before my first meet, I have three goals for the year,” Brits said. “I want to come top-three at indoor nationals, top-three at outdoor nationals and I want to go to the Olympics. After I came third at indoor nationals I switched that goal completely. From there on my main goal was to win a national title as a Seminole and hopefully represent my country at the Olympics.
“Unfortunately, one of those goals was taken away, but you have to look at the bigger picture and know that there’s someone bigger in charge of it and God’s plan is bigger than my needs.”
Brits did learn Monday that he will be a member of South Africa’s Olympic team.
Seddon has similar goals to Brits, and his NCAA Championship hopes are still alive after a workmanlike effort to nab an automatic spot in the final. The Great Britain native ran in the top six until the final two laps when he climbed to fourth and held his spot.
“The old coach was panicking, but he didn’t panic and that’s more important,” Braman said. “He felt like it was one of the easiest 8:36s he has ever run and he had a lot of gear at the end; not just a lot of gear, but he used what he needed to make it through.
“It’s going to be a great final because all of a sudden half the field [had personal bests] in the prelim, so now is that new standard or did they cook their goose? I know our standard is higher and I know we didn’t cook our goose, so we’ll see.”