CLEMSON, S.C. – Sophomores Peta-Gay Williams and Darryl Haraway took major steps toward earning NCAA Indoor Championship berths, leading the Florida State track & field teams to a solid all-around performance Friday on the first day of the Bob Pollock Invitational.
Williams delivered the first of four wins on the day for the Noles, but it was how she performed in the 60-meter hurdle finals that was most noteworthy. Backing up last week’s career-best time in a win at Iowa, she laid down the third-fastest time in Florida State history, crushing the field in 8.19.
“I’ve just been training really hard for the last couple of months, and based on last year, I decided this year was going to be different,” Williams said. “And I trust my coach [Brandon Hon]. I follow everything he says and if he says I’m going to run 8.1, I’m going to run 8.1. Did I anticipate it? I guess so, because he told me I could do it and I just went out there and did it.”
Following a similar path to Williams, Haraway backed up last week’s 60-meter dash personal best with a new one, racing to a second-place finish in 6.64 seconds.
For a second consecutive week Haraway was on the short end at the finish. Troy’s Hakim Montgomery ran 6.62 for the win after laying down a 6.59 in the prelims. Still, he isn’t lacking for confidence after backing up last week’s 6.65 at Iowa.
“I do like the direction that I’m headed,” said Haraway, whose freshman outdoor season was limited by an injury suffered at the ACC Championships. “I feel like I’m the old Darryl. I just feel like I’m going to get better and faster.”
“Peta-Gay and Darryl were spectacular tonight,” FSU head coach Bob Braman said. “Both are right at the number needed to make it to Indoor Nationals and we have a month to sharpen up.”
Williams came into the meet holding down the No. 16 spot nationally, and jumped to No. 12 in the rankings with her performance. As an added bonus she climbed from No. 5 on FSU’s all-time list at 8.24, past two-time Olympian Anne Zagre and Kim Jones into the No. 3 position.
And she got a little motivation from her freshman teammate Cortney Jones, who beat Williams in the preliminary round by running 8.26; the No. 6 time in Seminole history.
“After the prelims I was determined,” said Williams, who ran 8.31 in the prelims. “I know what I can do and this is not me. I definitely have to turn it up in the finals. That’s what I went out and did.”
Jones’ performance in the prelims – she finished sixth in the final in 8.51 – was nothing short of amazing. Last month she was finishing her high school degree and the Conyers, Ga. native has only been on campus for three weeks.
“I was impressed with Cortney Jones’ maiden race,” Braman said. “8.26 is rare territory for a freshman.”
So was Williams.
“I was impressed. To be honest, it shocked me, but I know she’s a good athlete and she has more in her,” Williams said. “I’m happy to have her as a training partner for three more years.”
Like Williams, Haraway improved his national standing, climbing into a three-way tie for seventh on the national list. And the Maryland native is confident that if he can clean up his start, he is capable of racing with those in front of him on that list.
Melissa-Maree Farrington put up an NCAA-worthy, early-season pentathlon score in her first multi-event competition of the year, posting a five-event total of 4,056 points – which ranked as the No. 3 score nationally. Though the Australia native won four of five events, establishing a new personal-best in the shot put, she finished behind Alabama’s Stacey Destin. Destin won with a nation-leading total of 4,144 points; largely because she outscored Farrington by 187 points in the high jump.
Farrington wasn’t the only Seminole multi-event athlete competing Friday. Teammates Dante Newberg and Hunter Napier knocked out four of their seven heptathlon events; with three more to go Saturday.
Amassing 2,951 points on the opening day, Newberg leads the competition and is on pace to destroy his previous-best (4,810), after establishing new personal-best marks in all four events. The sophomore from Tampa, who was 12th in the ACC last year, ran 7.13 in the 60-meter dash, long jumped 6.80 meters (22-3.75), registered a 12.43-meter (40-9.5) shot put and closed the day by high jumping 1.90 meters (6-2.75).
“Both Melissa-Maree and Dante were on their game,” Braman said. “Neither had a bad event and that kind of consistency will pay off at ACC’s. Melissa looks like a definite national qualifier in her next pentathlon, and Dante is heading up the conference list in a big way.”
Florida State’s distance runners provided most of the other highlights. Catherine Blaney won the 5,000-meter run (17:33.05) and both the women’s and men’s distance medley relays were victorious with times that will secure them spots in the fast heat of the ACC Indoor Championships late next month.
Junior Bridget Blake and redshirt freshman Carmela Cardama Baez finished 2-3 in the mile run. Blake ran the fastest season-opening mile (4:47.86) of her career, while Cardama Baez (4:49.28) was equally impressive in her collegiate mile debut.
On the men’s side, Michael Hall was third in the mile, registering a personal-best 4:08.23 as he nipped teammate Harry Mulenga (4:08.33) with a kick off the final turn. Redshirt freshman Tyson Murray was second in the 5000 (15:09.38) in the first indoor meet of his career.
Blake doubled back on the 1600 anchor of the winning DMR, while Hall and Mulenga handled the 1200 and 1600 legs, respectively, for the men’s team win.
“Bridget Blake had a really good night and Carmela put a nice mile race on her indoor resume,” Braman said. “The distance men competed really well but were once again running in tactical races. Solid racing is a good habit so I know the times will come.”
Saturday’s action begins at 9 a.m. with Newberg and Napier lining up for the 60-meter hurdles to begin the final day of the heptathlon.
Other featured Seminoles competing will include the FSU debuts of grad student Ed’Ricus Williams in the high jump and freshman Steven Cross in the 3000.
You can keep up with the action via Twitter @FSU_Track throughout the competition.