KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Though conditions were less than golden for Thursday’s start of the 50th Tennessee Relays, Florida State’s Veronika Kanuchova and Tyson Murray were good for gold. Outdistancing her nearest competitor from the field of 20 by more than two meters, Kanuchova won the title with a series-best toss of 62.90 meters (206-4) on her opening attempt.
Murray, a redshirt freshman, made his 10,000-meter debut a winning one, grinding out a rock-solid time of 30:40.68 to cap a blustery day of competition under the lights.
Sophomore decathlete Dante Newberg was greeted by wind-driven rain and temperatures in the 40s over the course of his five-event first day of competition. Though the weather conditions clearly impacted performances, it did not prevent Newberg from posting a first day personal-best total of 3,540 points.
Newberg carries an 11-point lead over Indiana’s Andrew Huber entering Friday’s finale to the 10-event competition.
“This is great preparation for our athletes, because you don’t know what kind of conditions you’re going to get later in the season, FSU coach Bob Braman said. “These were horrible conditions and to get a couple wins and have a lead [Newberg] shows a tremendous amount of character. Our kids didn’t hide under the bus. They came out and competed and I’m really proud of them for that.”
Newberg clearly caught the worst of the weather as the rain eased up – the though wind and cold persisted – as the day progressed.
The Tampa, Fla. native got things started with a very wind-aided 100-meter victory in 10.73, good for a 922-point haul and a lead he would never relinquish in the field of 11 competitors. He was fifth overall in the long jump (6.53m/21-5.25) and third in the shot put (11.68m/38-4) before posting his career-best decathlon high jump effort (1.86m/6-1.25) for 679 points. Newberg closed his day with a 53.80 in the 400.
In just his third collegiate decathlon, Newberg is 92 points better than his previous first-day best of 3,448 points, set at last year’s ACC Outdoor Championships.
With Friday’s forecast calling for temperatures in the upper 50s, Newberg is poised to make a run at his personal-best of 6,177 points, beginning with the 110-meter hurdles at 10 a.m., which will be followed by the discus, pole vault, javelin and 1500.
“Dante is more confident than he’s ever been and I’m anxious to see him post a PB that he should easily improve on at the ACC Championships under better conditions,” Braman said.
Murray, a Tallahassee native whose last race win came as a Chiles High junior in the 3200 at the Big Bend Championships, ran in a tight group of four through the first 5,000 meters before assuming the lead for the final 3200.
“Tyson Murray was fantastic,” Braman said. “He did a super job in his debut 10k. It’s a brutal race and a very hard one to be good at and he handled it like a vet, not a redshirt freshman.”
The Seminoles will face a full day of competition on Friday, which will include the outdoor season debuts of indoor All-Americans Jogaile Petrokaite and Eleonora Omoregie in the long jump and high jump, respectively. Senior Nicole Setterington is scheduled to make her season-debut in the 100-meter hurdles alongside freshman standout Cortney Jones.
Among the other highly anticipated events, Michael Hall will compete against a loaded field in the 1500 and 2016 indoor All-American Jake Burton and Jaap Vellinga will lead the way in the 800 against an equally deep field.
There will be no dodging competition in virtually every event as five nationally ranked women’s teams, including the 10th-ranked Seminoles, and three top-25 men’s teams collide with the FSU men just outside that group at No. 30 in the USTFCCCA rankings.
Second-ranked Kentucky, No. 12 Tennessee, No. 14 Virginia Tech and No. 18 Ole Miss are the top women’s teams. Host Tennessee, at No. 14, No. 15 Ole Miss and No. 18 Virginia Tech lead the men.
Also competing over the three-day meet are ACC rivals North Carolina, Duke and Georgia Tech, as well as Vanderbilt, Indiana, Illinois, Rutgers, Ohio State, Southern Illinois, Middle Tennessee and Eastern Michigan.
A good portion of Friday’s competition will be streamed live on ESPN3 or the WatchESPN app, from 3-7:40 p.m. at http://es.pn/2oFJPJH.
Live results from action on the track are available at http://www.adkinstrak.com/meet/?meet_id=672, and you can follow the Noles via Twitter @FSU_Track.
Freshman Eleonora Omoregie’s second NCAA Championships appearance of the year included two clearances but ended with an exit at 1.82 meters to place 15thand earn second-team All-American honors.
“Eleonora was battling the entire competition,” Braman said. “She and Coach Nobles made good adjustments and she just missed on her third attempt. It was a great freshman year – a double ACC champion and second-team All-American.”
With a second-attempt clearance at 1.78 meters (5-10), her second clearance of the day, Omoregie out-performed her seed (16th) and cleared one more bar than she did when she placed 11th at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Couple that group with freshman Veronika Kanuchova, who was fourth in the hammer, 100-meter hurdles qualifying underclassmen Peta-Gay Williams and Cortney Jones, and 400-meter qualifier Shaquania Dorsett, and the Noles have a strong base to go along with one of the nation’s top signing classes.