BOSTON, Mass. – Unranked and undaunted, the Florida State women led the Atlantic Coast Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships in scoring at the conclusion of the first two days and late into Saturday at the Reggie Lewis Center before finally running out of firepower over the final three events.
With Meme Jean’s 60-meter hurdle victory leading a 15-point haul for the Seminoles, FSU opened up an early 17-point lead on the final day of competition. Despite scoring in seven of the eight events with entrants, the Noles’ consolation was a fourth-place finish in the closest championship in meet history.
Finishing with 70 points, the Seminoles were just 15 behind champion Miami, which nipped Clemson 85-83. Notre Dame was third with 82 points.
“The women gave it their all in pursuit of a championship,” FSU head coach Bob Braman said. “I couldn’t be happier with the way our kids competed. We’ll be a force to be reckoned with outdoors.”
Like the women, the Seminole men came into the meet unranked and determined to leave a mark. The Noles began the final day in ninth place with 13 points and rose up to lock down a sixth-place finish with 55 points; just nine points shy of a third-place finish.
“Our men competed like Seminoles and made as big of a run as we could,” Braman said. “We don’t have the depth or experience to win this thing yet, but our coaches and athletes are doing a great job. We’re a much better outdoor team and this sets us up nicely.”
FSU’s veteran 800-meter duo of Jake Burton and Otniel Teixeira, and the sprint tandem of freshmen Darryl Haraway and Edward Clarke, carried the torch for the Noles. Burton broke the school record (1:47.72) with a second-place finish and Teixeira was fourth (1:48.47) with the second-fastest time in Seminole history.
Perhaps more importantly, Burton climbed to 14th on the national list, and will await to see if that mark stands for an NCAA Indoor Championships berth.
“Jake Burton ran an epic race today; took it on and threw it all in to break the school record,” Braman said. “Unfortunately he had company. I couldn’t be prouder of him.
“Teixeira deserves a piece of Jake’s school record. He pushed the pace all the way to the bell lap. Otniel set a lifetime best in the process. That was 13 big points right there.”
Haraway was a beast for the Noles, placing second in the 60-meter final (6.75) and third in the 200 (21.31), virtually locking up ACC Freshman of the Year honors. Clarke was close behind, finishing fourth (6.77) and seventh (21.78). In all, the youngsters contributed 21 points to the cause.
“Darryl Haraway will undoubtedly be the [ACC] Freshman of the Year,” Braman said. “It’s rare for a freshman to even score and Darryl threw down a silver and a bronze. Eddie Clarke did a fantastic job as well. He double scored and that’s unheard of for a freshman.”
Senior Zak Seddon started the day off with a crafty performance in the mile final; just the second mile race of his career. Sitting off the lead pack throughout, Seddon – the slowest qualifier – finished sixth with the fifth-fastest time in FSU history (4:04.03).
Shot putters Chad DaCosta and Ben Bonhurst provided the final points for the men, placing sixth and seventh. DaCosta recorded a lifetime-best for the second consecutive meet (17.91m/58-9.25), climbing to seventh on FSU’s all-time list.
The 32-point final day performance was a gritty effort for a team long-accustomed to competing for titles.
“I saw a lot of heart,” Burton said of his teammates. “The freshmen really proved they really are special and are going to be the base for the next four years.
“I’m really excited about the older guys – Stefan, Otniel, Zak and I – to get out there and show what it means to be a Seminole and compete at this level.”
Bridget Blake put the Noles on the scoreboard first, placing sixth in a tightly contested mile final in 4:42.29. Following close behind was the Jean-led 60-meter hurdle crew.
The graduate student transfer from Charleston Southern led from the gun to win in 8.11 and was chased home by Nicole Setterington in sixth (8.35) and freshman Peta-Gay Williams in seventh (8.45).
“I really wanted to represent FSU,” Jean said. “I wanted us to win and I did what I had to do. I wanted to break the school record but I came up a little short. I’ll have another chance to do it.”
Jean’s preliminary round 8.08 ranks fifth nationally, which means she will be in the hunt for All-American honors in two weeks.
After opening up the big lead, FSU continued to tack on points. Junior Kellion Knibb was sixth in the shot put (15.04m), while freshmen and fellow Jamaicans Shaquania Dorsett and Shauna Helps placed eighth in the 400 (54.74) and 60 (7.53), respectively. Dorsett’s time was a new personal-best.
Georgia Peel provided the final points of the meet, placing eighth in the 3000 in 9:28.96. Blake was a non-scoring 10th (9:30.51) and Christine Griggs was 27th(9:54.17), each competing in the unseeded heat. All three Seminoles established new career-bests.
In the end, the Noles simply weren’t able to match the late surges by Miami, Clemson and Notre Dame.