May 27, 2006
Greensboro, N.C. – Five NCAA East Region Champions, four NCAA East Region records, 16 automatic qualifiers plus three relays for nationals and one team regional championship are all in a day’s work for the Florida State track and field squads at the 2006 NCAA East Region Championships on Saturday, May 27, 2006 at the Irwin Belk Track and Field in Greensboro, N.C.
“We had a phenomenal weekend on both the men’s and women’s side,” said head coach Bob Braman. “We did what we came to do. We’re in great position to go to nationals. We’re running well and we’re trying win. I’m extremely pleased with our performance today.”
The top-ranked men’s team defended their team title, with less suspense than the 2005 crown, scoring 97 points. Florida finished in second place with 64 points, South Carolina picked up 51 points, Clemson had 42.50 points and North Carolina rounded out the top five with 33 points.
Last year, the race came down to showdown between Florida and Florida State in the 4x400m relay. This year, the Seminoles were down to the second-place Gators by one point entering the 110m hurdle finals. After the shot put and 100m were entered, the Seminoles had a 16-point lead and never looked back.
The No. 17/15 women’s squad recorded the best NCAA East regional finish in program history, placing fifth in the team standings and scoring a Seminole squad-best 44 points. The team was sixth entering the 4x400m relay and moved into the top five with a second-place 3:31.43.
The time is the seventh fastest in FSU school history. The quartet of Alycia Williams, India Pettus, Kandia Batchelor and Evelyne-Cynthia Niako completed the race in the second fastest time in the heat. Niako edged Florida’s third led Zan Joseph to take the second spot to Miami.
Win his event, break the meet record and qualify for nationals. That is becoming the norm for redshirt junior Garrett Johnson (Tampa, Fla./Tampa Baptist Academy) who threw 66’10.75″ (20.39m) on his third attempt of the preliminary round of the shot. He broke the previous mark of 66’0.25″ (20.12m), which he recorded in winning last year’s shot put title.
Redshirt senior Lacy Janson (Sarasota, Fla./Cardinal Mooney) has the same routine as she took the top spot in the pole vault, clearing a meet-record height of 13’11.75″ (4.26m) for an automatic berth at her fourth and final NCAA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships, taking place in Sacramento, Calif., from June 7-10, 2006.
Fueled possibly by Johnson’s win less than 200m away, the men’s 4x100m relay won the NCAA East Region Championship of the meet, blazing the track in 38.90, breaking the NCAA East Region, Florida State school and Irwin Belk Track record. The time is the second fastest time in the country and the 15th fastest in the world this year. The group, who ran for only the second time together this year, bested the mark set by the 2004 FSU quartet in the preliminary race of the national championships meet. Greg Bolden and Ronald Wright completed the first exchange in first place before handing off to the third segment Michael Ray Garvin. All-American Cedric Nabe anchored the group to a lengthy lead over the rest of the pack. Nabe anchored the 2004 group that set the record.
Reigning NCAA East Region 400m Champion Ricardo Chambers (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer) easily defended his thrown tying the meet record set by Florida’s Reggie Witherspoon at 45.53.
Reigning NCAA Indoor 200m National Champion Walter Dix (Coral Springs, Fla./Coral Springs) took the third regional meet championship of his short career, besting the field in a time of 20.40. Garvin will join Dix in the field at nationals, running the fourth fastest 200m time in the finals at 20.70.
As one of the nation’s fastest 100m runners, sophomore seven-time All-American Walter Dix (Coral Springs, Fla./Coral Springs) ran a season-best 10.16 in the finals of the 100m, scoring eight points towards the team championship. Bolden picked up his pace with a season-best of 10.24 clip to score four points in taking fourth place.
Returning to the national meet for the second time in as many years, Senior Andrew Lemoncello (St. Andrews, Scotland/Stirling University) won his first NCAA East Regional crown, dominating the field in the second heat with an 8:42.33 clip.
Senior Rafeeq Curry (Miami, Fla./ACE Academy) secured his eighth automatic berth to the NCAA Track and Field Championships with a second-place performance in the triple jump. The seven-time All-American hit the sand with a mark of 52’9.5″ (16.09m) on his first attempt. He passed the rest of the series after a hard landing in the pit on his only trip down the runway.
In the 1500m, redshirt senior Natalie Hughes (Grand Junction, Colo./Palisade) and junior Tom Lancashire (Bolton, England/Turton) advanced through to the NCAA National Championships. Hughes finished in second place in 4:21.65 to make the national championships for the fourth time in five years at FSU. The five-time All-American was the second seed entering the meet. Lancashire, the 2005 Atlantic Coast Conference Performer of the Year, crossed the line in fifth place with a mark of 3:52.94
Senior sprinter Evelyne-Cynthia Niako (Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson) had another great outing, taking third in the 200m dash in a lifetime-best 22.99. She is just the fifth woman in FSU school history to run sub-23 seconds.
Teammate LaKendra McColumn (Lithonia, Ga./Southwest Dekalb) earned a berth at her first national championships, running 58.74 in the 400m hurdles to take fourth place. She scored five points to put the Seminoles in the top five in the team race.
Redshirt junior Alyce Williams (Palm Coast, Fla./George Mason University) jumped a lifetime best 43’5.75″ (13.25m) for a sixth-place finish in the triple jump. Entering the meet with the 12th farthest jump in the region, Williams earned a spot in the at-large pool placing in the top 12 in the finals. She closes the gap between third-place and fourth-place on the FSU all-time list.
Sophomore Elliott Wood (Sydney, Australia/Narrabean Sports Academy) ran 51.54 in the 400m hurdles finals to score one point towards the team score. Senior Alycia Williams (Palm Coast, Fla./George Mason University) had the seventh speediest 400m time, sprinting to the finish in the second best time of her career, 53.94.
Rookie pole vaulter Tori Allen (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central) vaulted 12′ (3.66m) to tie for 13th place at her first regional meet.
Junior John Fallone (Rochester, N.Y./Virginia Tech) took 13th place in the shot put, tossing 55’6.5″ (16.93m). Fellow thrower and classmate Lindsey Nelson (Jacksonville, Fla./Mandarin) recorded a throw of 138′ (42.06m) in the discus.
Senior jumper LaToya Legree (Lithonia, Ga./Stephenson) jumped 41’10.75″ (12.77m) to finish in 16th place.
The next meet for the Seminoles is the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships hosted Sacramento State University Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex from June 7-10.