ATLANTA, Ga. – Calm in the face of what could have been her last collegiate meet, Florida State senior Melissa-Maree Farrington delivered one of the most complete competitive efforts of her career, claiming her second consecutive ACC Outdoor Championship heptathlon title.
Leading the seven-event competition wire-to-wire, Farrington closed out the two-day competition Saturday with 5,692 points – No. 8 in the NCAA this season – to bolster the Seminoles’ title hopes and secure a trip to the NCAA Championships.
The Australia native began the day with a lifetime-best long jump (6.04 meters), pushing her overnight lead of 122 points to 224, then all but sealed the title with the top javelin throw in the field (39.54m). With a 333-point lead and only the 800 remaining, Farrington had only to overcome her own demons to claim the title.
Farrington’s last competitive 800, the final event of the NCAA Indoor pentathlon championships, saw her tumble from a top-eight finish to a 15th-place finish.
“I definitely didn’t want to let myself down, let my team down again based on the last event,” Farrington said, when asked how the disappointment in March had impacted her. “I know I can run under 2:20, so running 2:32 at nationals – just running out of gas – let myself down, it shook my pride. I promised myself after that 800 never again is that going to happen. I’m always going to be proud of my results.”
It didn’t hurt that she had plenty of support on hand at Georgia Tech.
“Coach Braman told me before the 800, ‘Your mom’s here for Mother’s Day, run that race for her,’” Farrington said. “Honestly [on] the back straight of the second lap, my mom came to my mind and I just gritted my teeth and toughed it out.”
Farrington finished in 2:22.68 – exactly 10 seconds faster than her NCAA Indoor time – then celebrated with her parents, Kelvin and Gina, who made the trip from Australia to see her graduate and compete at least one final time.
“Having my parents here, that was the biggest mental support I could possibly have,” Farrington said. “And Coach [Dennis] Nobles, he was in my ear every event, having trust and faith in me. I had a big team around me to keep me calm.”
In the process, Farrington delivered the Seminoles their second gold medal of the meet by becoming Nobles’ 60th ACC champion in the jumps and multis.
Before Farrington even climbed to the top of the podium to collect her second ACC gold medal in as many years from Nobles, she shared hugs and celebratory photos with competitors, family, coaches and teammates.
Given the potential gravity of a final collegiate season lost to injury and disappointment, it was a moment worth savoring.
“I’m most proud of her guts in that final event,” FSU head coach Bob Braman said. “The 800 was her nemesis at Indoor Nationals so it was a real gut-check for her and she passed with flying colors. The big bonus was she got her national qualifying mark and now she’s got a month to prepare for Nationals.”
Saturday’s ACC Outdoor Championship was delayed for more than two hours by weather. A complete recap of the day will be posted at the conclusion of the competition.