TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Shanice Love and Austin Droogsma won Penn Relays titles Friday, but were upstaged by Florida State freshman Ka’Tia Seymour, whose 100-meter debut in Fayetteville, Ark. produced an Atlantic Coast Conference record and the third-fastest time in program history.
Seymour was among the Seminole sprinters, hurdlers and jumpers on stage at the inaugural National Relay Championship, joining classmate Jayla Kirkland in their first collegiate 100-meter races. They did not disappoint.
Seymour sailed to victory in the fast heat – she was second overall – in 11.24, faster than all previous Noles except record-holder Michelle Finn (11.20) and Brenda Cliette (11.23). In the process the Palatka, Fla. native broke the ACC record previously shared by her junior teammate Shauna Helps and Clemson’s Dezerea Bryant (11.26).
“Ka’Tia is so special that she does something as amazing as breaking the ACC record, and we’re all expecting her to do something even bigger,” Florida State coach Bob Braman said. “You congratulate her for the record, but get the feeling that she’s capable of going under 11 seconds.
“Very few freshmen have run this fast.”
Spread out across the country and competing in three different meets the Noles produced two wins, the aforementioned ACC record, 13 personal-best performances and celebrated some promising efforts by athletes returning from injury.
At Philadelphia’s Franklin Field, Love got things started in the invitational section of the women’s discus, delivering the Noles their fourth title in five years of the event. The sophomore from Jamaica, followed back-to-back wins by former teammate Kellion Knibb, who also won the 2014 title, with a winning throw of 56.10 meters (184-0).
Ieva Zarankaite was third (53.18m/174-5) and Gleneve Grange eighth (49.63m/162-9).
A short time later Droogsma delivered the FSU men their first invitational shot put victory since Garrett Johnson’s record-setting 2006 win, connecting with a third-round winning mark of 20.19 meters (66-2.75). The redshirt senior avenged his runner-up finish in 2017 to by becoming just the second champion to eclipse 20 meters since Johnson’s Penn Relays and FSU record 20.84-meter throw.
In the process he beat South Carolina’s Josh Awotunde, the defending champion, and Indiana’s Willie Morrison in a tight battle.
Beyond a handful of outstanding performances of John McDonell Field, the return to competition from injury by sprint standouts Kirkland and Darryl Haraway – and their healthy emergence from Friday competition – was most encouraging.
Kirkland was seventh in Seymour’s record-setting heat win, finishing in 11.48 and placing 10th overall. The Birmingham, Ala. native, who has been limited by a nagging hamstring injury, wasn’t the only Seminole sprinter on the mend to rise up and emerge from the meet healthy.
Junior Darryl Haraway, competing in his first 100-meter dash race since May of 2016 due a chronic hamstring injury, won his heat in 10.32 – equaling his collegiate-best – and finished fourth overall against quality competition.
Braman called Haraway’s heat win the “highlight of the day.”
“I give Coach [Brandon] Hon and Coach [Rick] Argro credit for being patient and bringing Jayla and Darryl back to good health at the right time,” “Braman said. “Gwen Davis and her training room staff are our MVP’s for the month of April. We’re not 100% for everyone yet, but we have a chance to be at ACC’s.”
Among the other highlights, freshman Trey Cunningham’s personal-best of 13.61 was good for a runner-up finish in the 110-meter hurdles, while classmate Tye Dickens was fifth in the fast heat (13.99); just .01 off his personal-best.
“Trey ran a strong race,” Braman said. “He’s getting his technique down and should be a factor at Nationals like he did Indoors. Another good race for Tryricke as well. He’s close to a breakthrough race after all these consistently good ones.”
Dickens wasn’t done, shaving nearly two full seconds off his 400-meter hurdles personal-best (52.66) in just his second race over that distance. The Godby High grad won his heat and finished 13th overall against a star-filled field.
“Tyreke is growing by leaps and bounds in the 400 hurdles,” Braman said. “He literally had no one to chase over the last four hurdles.”
Corion Knight was unable to extend his streak of consecutive two-win meets to three, finishing second in the high jump (2.08m) and fifth in the invitational long jump, which were contested simultaneously. Kenneth Fisher was fourth in the long jump, edging Knight by a single centimeter in 7.75 meters (25-5.25).
“I thought Corion and Kenneth held their own in a truly elite field,” Braman said. “They’re competing their tails off and have a chance to make a splash at Nationals.”
At the UNF Osprey Invitational in Jacksonville, Fla., where nine of 11 competing Noles established new personal-bests. Junior Fatema Jaffer’s fourth-place finish in the 5000-meter run (17:35.44) paced the group. Sarah Candiano also cracked the 11-minute barrier in the 3000-meter steeplechase (10:59.76) to finish second.
Saturday’s slate at the Penn Relays will include Droogsma and Noah Agwu in the invitational discus and Brandon Tirado in the hammer. At the National Relays Championships, Armani Wallace and Montel Nevers will compete in the triple jump, while both the men and women are scheduled to race 4×100 and 4×400 relays.