AZUSA, Calif. – Freshman Addi Coggins provided a proper cap to Thursday’s racing action at the Bryan Clay Invitational, paring 25 seconds off her previous 5000-meter personal best and very nearly delivering a victory as well.
Racing with confidence, Coggins ran with the front pack from the start and led most of the way before settling for a runner-up heat finish in 16:57.90. It was a major breakthrough for the Franklin, Tenn. native who came into the race with a personal-best of 17:22.67 and a determination to dip below 17 minutes for the first time.
“I’ve been really excited for this,” said Coggins, who was coming off her first 10,000-meter race at the Raleigh Relaysd. “I went pretty easy this week in practice, which is nice. I felt really good. It was a lot of fun.”
Coggins moved to the front shortly after the PA announcer at Azusa Pacific’s Cougar Stadium announced that the leaders were on 17:05 pace just 1600 meters into the contest. Roughly 200 meters later she surged to the front of the field of 32.
“I had a goal in mind,” Coggins added. “I wanted to break 17 and the pace actually started to slow down, so I knew if I wanted to break 17 I’d have to make a move then. I’m not going to lie, it was a little scary to take the lead, but I was confident knowing that it was a little slower than I was hoping it would be. I felt strong.”
Coggins led until the final 200 meters before walking off with a goal met to a hug from her parents and coach Kelly Phillips.
The 5000-meter distance proved to be the highlight event of the day for the Noles.
Junior Toby Hardwick and senior Michael Callegari did their part. Competing together in the same heat, Hardwick’s methodically-paced performance proved just enough to get the best of Callegari, closing to finish in 37-second personal best of 14:17.85. Callegari, who ran with the lead pack throughout the first half of the race, rallied late for his U.S. collegiate best of 14:18.15.
Competing in one of the faster heats earlier in the day, graduate transfer David Barney was unable to match the early pace and finished in 14:24.26.
Junior Althea Hewitt’s 3000-meter steeplechase debut produced a time of 11:26.06.
The day also included some disappointment. Junior decathlete Dante Newberg began Day 2 by testing his sore right knee in the first event of the day – the 110-meter hurdles – only to drop out of the competition afterward.
Down at the Mt. SAC Relays, which are being contested at El Camino Community College in Torrance, Calif., redshirt freshman Steven Cross was forced to drop out of his 10,000-meter race with a tender hip, while graduate student Stanley Linton was unable to stay on PB pace and finished the late-night race in 30:11.95.
The Seminoles will return to action at both meets on Friday, where the highlighted events will include FSU’s middle distance crew – men and women – competing at the Bryan Clay Invitational, where the jumps posse will also be in action. Down at the Mt. SAC Relays, Michael Hall will make his 3000-meter steeplechase debut in the invitational section, while Militsa Mircheva will chase an NCAA East qualifying mar in the 5000.
You can keep up with the Noles via Twitter @FSU_Track.