Jan. 28, 2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – There is only one NCAA Division I track & field athlete who is ranked among the top 10 nationally in both an individual running and field event. Florida State senior James Harris gained that distinction with a banner weekend performance at the Cherry & Silver Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M.
And by standing alone nationally, Harris claimed his second Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Indoor Track & Field Performer of the Week honor of the season.
The Lanett, Ala. native opened the meet on Friday by breaking his own school record in a high jump duel with national leader Nick Ross of Arizona. Harris matched Ross bar-for-bar through 2.27 meters (7-5.25) before settling for second place – and a No. 2 ranking nationally.
On Saturday Harris won the seeded section of the 400-meter dash in 46.43 seconds, which converts to 46.54 at altitude. That mark is the second-fastest indoor team in Florida State history and ranks No. 10 nationally.
In addition to claiming his second ACC honor of the season, Harris also earned honorable mention recognition for the USTFCCCA Men’s National Performer of the Week.
`Noles move up in new national computer polls
The Florida State men’s and women’s teams got the attention of the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) computer. The Seminole men climbed one spot to No. 6 in Tuesday’s national computer ranking, while the women were nudged up two spots to No. 17.
Putting the banner weekend in perspective
Through the first three meets of the indoor season, the Seminoles have established 21 new personal-best marks and two school records. Of those, 18 new personal-best marks were set over the weekend at the Cherry & Silver Invitational, where Briana Cherry-Bronson and Harris each broke their own school records in the weight throw and high jump.
One of 13 women with new personal-best marks, Cherry-Bronson posted her first collegiate victory with a throw of 20.98m (68-10), which ranks fifth nationally.
Two other Seminole women – Sage Watson and Chelsea Whalen – moved to No. 2 on FSU’s all-time top-10 indoor lists in the 400-meter dash and shot put, respectively. Watson’s runner-up finish time of 53.42 (53.53 adjusted) ranks eighth nationally and trails only Samantha George (52.81) in Seminole history. Whalen needed a late mark of 16.08m (52-9.50) to eclipse teammate Kellion Knibb (16.01/52-6.50), finish second and move to No. 18 nationally. Knibb is ranked No. 22.
As the Seminoles move forward, beginning with this weekend’s competition at the Razorback Invitational, the focus turns to earning end-of-season top-16 national rankings which would secure NCAA Indoor Championship berths.
Among those Seminoles positioned well moving forward after last weeks’ meet are: Georgia Peel (4:38.41, No. 4), Colleen Quigley (4:38.71, No. 6) and Linden Hall (4:42.80, No. 14) in the mile; Hannah Walker (9:20.47, No. 10) and Pippa Woolven (9:26.57, No. 17) in the 3000; Der’Renae Freeman (6.24m/20-5.75, No. 9) in the long jump; Izehi Ileso (12.74m/41-9.75, No. 11) in the triple jump and Elizabeth Ichite (54.18, No. 18) in the 400.
On the men’s side, Jonathan Reid posted the nation’s No. 1 triple jump with his victory at the Cherry & Silver (16.25m/53-3.75). It is also the third-best indoor effort in FSU history. In addition to Harris’ performance in the 400, teammates Alonzo Russell (46.55, No. 11) and Michael Cherry (47.02, No. 20) are also among the nation’s elite. So are long jumpers Paul Madzivire (7.61m/24-11.25, No. 7) and freshman football All-American Jalen Ramsey (7.59/24-11, No. 10), who debuted with the 10th-best leap in FSU history.
Dentarius Locke’s runner-up finish in the 60-meter dash (6.58) ranks No. 3 nationally.
Focus turns to Razorback Invitational
A large contingent of Seminoles – men and women – will depart Thursday for the two-day Razorback Invitational at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Ark., to face a stacked field of nationally-ranked teams.
Led by the top-ranked Arkansas men, the sixth-ranked Seminoles are among five teams in the top 10 of this week’s USTFCCCA computer rankings, including No. 2 Florida, No. 5 Texas A&M, No. 8 Arizona and No. 10 Oklahoma State. Texas (No. 19) and Stanford (No. 20) round out the ranked squads on the men’s side.
There are seven ranked women’s teams in the field, led by Texas (No. 2), Texas A&M (3), Florida (4), Kentucky (6), Arkansas (7), Stanford (9) and the Seminoles (17).
“Last weekend, whether it was the intention or not, we had a very team-like effort,” FSU coach Bob Braman. “We fed off each other.”
This weekend the focus turns toward securing NCAA Indoor Championship berths – or “getting people on the plane” as Braman said – as well as sorting personnel for the ACC Indoor Championships.
In the case of the sprints, jumps and throws, there are some primary goals. Harris, Russell and Cherry will attempt to bolster their individual standings in the 400 and team with Locke to further improve their fourth-ranked 4×400 relay standard of 3:07.70. Locke will also make his season debut in the 200-meter dash.
Senior Anne Zagre, who qualified for last year’s NCAA Indoor Championships, will make her season debut in the 60-meter hurdles.
Stefan Brits and Madzivire are hunting NCAA standards in the long jump, though Ramsey will sit this weekend out to attend the BCS National Championship celebration. The same is true for Freeman in the long jump and Ileso in the triple jump.
Braman’s distance crew will also return to action as he pieces together a Distance Medley Relay for the first time, hoping to earn a spot in the fast heat of the ACC Championship meet. Many of the `Noles will also double up – much the women did last week – while Bryant Blahnik and Kevin Johnson get their feet wet for the first time indoors in the 3000.