TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Hours before the first hammer had been hurled into the air at Mike Long Track, Florida State throws coach Dorian Scott made a bold prediction about his senior Katja Vangsnes.
“She’s going to win,” Scott said, as he prepare to head from his office to the field on the opening day of the Atlantic Coast Conference Track & Field Championships.
Vangsnes didn’t waste any time making her coach a prophet. The Oslo, Norway native’s opening throw sailed a lifetime-best 62.51 meters – 205-feet 1-inch – to break her own school record and seal her first ACC title. It was the first in Vangsnes’ finest series as a collegian, with each of her legal marks eclipsing 60 meters; a standard she had not matched a single time all season.
“Katja was simply fantastic,” Florida State coach Bob Braman said. “She had five season-bests on six throws and that included a lifetime best by over three feet. The big bonus was that she won it over the defending ACC champion from rival Miami, and that’s huge in the team battle.”
Vangsnes was so over-joyed by her victory, she leaped from the circle in celebration before her sixth and final throw of the competition hit the ground, leading to her only foul. It didn’t matter.
She immediately ran to embrace Scott, then dashed off to share the news with her family back home via text message.
On a day heavy on preliminary-round competition, with only six finals contested, Vangsnes provided the only points for either the Seminole men or women.
That hardly tells the complete story as the Noles have quite a productive championship meet brewing thanks to some solid qualifying efforts and strong first-day performances in the heptathlon by Melissa-Maree Farrington and Grete Sadeiko, and Dante Newberg in decathlon.
Through four events, Farrington and Sadeiko stand second and third, each on pace to eclipse personal-bests for the seven-event competition. Farrington jump-started her 3,424-point performance by posting a personal-best time of 13.40 in the 100-meter hurdles for a whopping 1,065 points.
“The aggression was there,” Farrington said of her hurdles opener. “It was a very good boost. I knew if I was running very fast in the hurdles there was no excuse in the 200. I’m fit. If I can run 13.4 in the hurdles I can break 25 [seconds] in the 200.”
Farrington did just that in the final event of the day, posting her collegiate-best time of 24.88 for 898 points. That left her 28 points off the lead held by Notre Dame’s Carly Loeffel (3,452).
Sadeiko was rock-solid from start to finish and sits third with 3,374 points, just 78 points off the lead.
Having each other to lean on throughout the competition is no small benefit for the Seminole duo.
“It’s good,” Farrington said. “I was following her in the high jump and when she made it, I knew I could make it because we train together. She’s done well in all of her events. I’m really happy for her.”
Braman was equally pleased.
“Our ladies had a great first day in the heptathlon,” Braman said. “Melissa is on pace to join Grete at nationals and both have a shot for the individual win tomorrow. Those are huge points in our title chase.”
Newberg was equally impressive through the first five events of the decathlon. The freshman posted personal-bests in the 100 (11.01), long jump (6.74m/22-1.50) and shot put (11.67m/38-3.50), propelling him to 3,448 points and ninth in the standings. That’s just 42 points shy of the final scoring position.
Both the Seminole men and women were stout in 1500-meter qualifying. Senior Georgia Peel posted the top time of the prelims, racing to a heat win in 4:21.15, with teammate Bridget Blake automatically qualifying by placing third in the same heat (4:26.67).
On the men’s side, Zak Seddon and Michael Hall hooked up in the third heat and both advanced, racing to third- and fourth-place finishes in 3:48.24 and 3:48.38. Seddon qualified automatically for Sunday’s final with Hall securing a spot on time, thanks to well-played teamwork.
“It was a really great job for our 1500-meter crews,” Braman said. “Bridget and Mike were certainly wild cards and they performed fantastically. Zak and Georgia are the seasoned vets and they both looked super composed.”
The day wasn’t without a little drama. Junior Jamal Pitts earned himself a bonus 200-meter race when his time of 21.255 was identical to Miami’s Jaalen Jones, who ran in a different heat. The deadlock was for the eighth and last qualifying spot for the final, so by rule, the two will have a 200-meter run-off Saturday at 8:25 p.m.
Only one can move on.
Saturday’s action begins with the women’s javelin at 10 a.m., with the decathlon to follow at 11:15 and the heptathlon at 12 p.m.
Finals will be contested for men and women in the long jump, shot put and steeplechase, as well as the men’s high jump.
You can keep abreast of the action via Twitter @FSU_Track and the daily live blog on Seminoles.com. Live results are available at http://flashresults.com/2016_Meets/Outdoor/05-13_ACC/index.htm.