JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Friday began with bang and finished with an exclamation point as the Florida State track & field teams advanced five more athletes to the NCAA Outdoor Championships from the East Preliminary at UNF’s Hodges Stadium.
Seminole stars Kellion Knibb and Zak Seddon took care of business in the discus and steeplechase, respectively – the first and last events of the day – but gained company on the charter plane to Eugene, Ore. from three first-time NCAA Championship qualifiers.
Seeded 27th in a field of 48, graduate transfer Sasha-Ann Lebert summoned up a four-meter personal-best in the discus (55.65m/182-7) to qualify fourth and join Knibb on college track & field’s big stage.
Lebert doesn’t remember much about the specifics of her monster second attempt.
“I know it felt really good, but I cannot tell you the feeling,” Lebert said. “I just knew it was a good throw. It felt really easy and smooth; it felt really good coming out. My whole technique, going through all of my positions, felt really good.”
So does the sound of being a two-time NCAA Championship qualifier, having earned his first trip indoors in the weight throw.
Florida State head coach Bob Braman called it, “shockingly wonderful to see.”
“I’m extremely proud of her, because we’ve seen it in practice but she hasn’t been able to put it together,” Knibb said of her training partner and fellow Jamaican. “When I saw her put it together today I was even more proud of her than I was myself.”
And Knibb had plenty to be proud of she took the lead on her third and final throw (59.81m/196-2) to pass Michigan State’s Katelyn Daniels by 11 inches and remain unbeaten against collegiate competition this season.
“The main goal is just to qualify coming into the meet, but when I realized that the win was within reach I just went for it,” Knibb said. “I like [being unbeaten] because it applies a certain kind of pressure that I haven’t had all season, so it helps to put pressure on me.”
“Kellion made a statement on her last throw that winning, even in a qualifying meet, is what she’s all about,” Braman said. “Coach [Dorian] Scott has done a magnificent job with our throwers.”
As the evening session on the track began the Seminole women took care of business in the preliminary round of the 100-meter hurdles. Junior Nicole Setterington (13.37), freshman Peta-Gay Williams (13.37) and grad student Meme Jean (13.42) all advanced automatically to Saturday’s quarterfinals.
Setterington and Jean finished second in the third and fourth heats, respectively, while Williams placed third in the sixth heat. Their times ranked 14-16 as they move on to Saturday’s 7:05 p.m. quarterfinal.
Melissa-Maree Farrington (13.57) finished one spot behind Williams but did not advance.
“Our hurdle ladies did a nice job,” Braman said. “They’ve been sitting around for three days and really needed to get this first race in. It wasn’t perfect, but three earned automatic qualifiers and Melissa was the first not to advance. Coach [Brandon] Hon will have them ready to run their best tomorrow, I’m sure”
The second big surprise of the day came from freshman sprinter Edward Clarke, who arrived at his first NCAA postseason meet as the No. 8 seed but handled the pressure of the moment with a strong second-place quarterfinal heat finish behind Tennessee’s Christian Coleman in 10.35.
“Making it to nationals is always a good accomplishment,” said Clarke, who walked off the track seemingly more upset about losing his heat than happy he is headed to Oregon. “I’d rather win the race, I’ll take what I can get now and go back to the drawing board to get better at nationals…
“It’s a good experience; first-year, first nationals. You can’t complain. I’m looking forward to the experience so I can back there again next year.”
“It was a great effort for Eddie Clark, a freshman,” Braman said. “That’s a lot of moxie and control to do that.”