JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The seventh-ranked Florida State women expanded their NCAA Track & Field Championship travel party to eight on Friday at the East Preliminary meet, and the men added their first qualifier from North Florida’s Hodges Stadium.
The Noles had the ideal leadoff-performer in junior discus standout Shanice Love. With an opening throw of 61.04 meters (200-3), Love locked down the top qualifying spot and her third NCAA Championship appearance.
“If they would all compete like Shanice, I’d coach till I’m 90,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “She knows exactly what she doing and hits it on her first throw.”
Love joined Friday qualifiers Lauri Paredes (javelin) and Jogaile Petrokaite (long jump) as the third top qualifier of the meet for the trending Noles women, who weren’t done.
Super sophomores Ka’Tia Seymour and Jayla Kirkland automatically advanced in the 100-meter dash, finishing first and third in the opening heat in 11.15 and 11.37. Seymour’s time is third-fastest of the Texas-bound qualifiers.
“Ka’Tia and Jayla are so polished,” Braman said. “They make sure that they’re in position to advance and they both finish really well. I’m really proud of those two.”
The 19th-ranked Seminole men added their own 100-meter dash qualifier; just not the one most expected it would be.
Freshman Bryand Rincher is heading to his second NCAA Championship meet of the year, qualifying on time in 10.22. Rincher, who was fifth at the NCAA Indoor Championships in the 60-meter dash, was one of five men to advance from a blistering opening heat.
Left behind was senior Andre Ewers, the 2018 NCAA 100-meter bronze medalist, who could not overcome a slow reaction time from the blocks. Ewers finished fifth in heat five (10.23) and missed the final qualifying spot on time by four one-thousandths of a second.
FSU coach Bob Braman called it a ‘gut-shot’ but one Ewers would overcome roughly an hour later when he laid down the fourth-fastest 200-meter time (20.43), winning his heat to comfortably secure a spot in Saturday’s quarterfinal.
Ewers’ qualifying effort followed a meet-long pattern for the Noles, who have excelled when it came time to make the initial cut from 48 to 24 competitors in each event.
“Andre came back a man on a mission,” Braman said. “That’s a really big race for a first round. I’m proud of him for keeping his head on straight after a crushing blow in the 100m.”
FSU athletes were successful in five of six first-round qualifying opportunities.
Junior Cortney Jones laid down her fourth consecutive sub-13 second, 100-meter hurdles races, advancing to the quarterfinals with the fastest time in the field (12.84).
“Cortney makes these sub-13’s look like training runs,” Braman said. “She’s in a zone right now and it’s really fun to watch.”
There were some anxious moments before sophomore Trey Cunningham’s first round action in the 110-meter hurdles, after he sat out the ACC meet as a precautionary measure with a tender leg.
Cunningham won his 110-meter hurdles race in 13.68 to advance seventh-fastest to the quarterfinals. It was his first hurdles race since winning the Mt. SAC Relays title on April 20.
“We held our breath on Trey but he delivered like he always does,” Braman said. “He appears to be healthy again. He just needs races to catch back up.”
Seymour and Kirkland followed up the NCAA-clinching 100-meter runs by auto-advancing in the 200, finishing second and third, in their respective heats, in 23.05 and 23.26.
“We’ve had great efforts all day,” Braman said, rattling off a long list of strong performers who missed the cut to advance to the June 5-8 NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas.
Senior Michael Timpson posted a new personal-best in the 100-meter dash (10.28) to finish 17th overall. Junior Kyle Fearrington’s 400-meter PB (46.50) was good for a career-best 16th East Prelims showing.
Junior Nicole Breske came up a bar shy of advancing in the pole vault, clearing 3.92 meters (12-10.25) to place 26th after qualifying for the field as the No. 48 seed.
“They all competed really well but didn’t quite advance,” Braman said. “Sometimes those efforts get lost in this do-or-die atmosphere, but we, as coaches, are proud of how they represented our program.”
The night ended on a heart-breaking note for senior Michael Hall, who lost a shoes on the second lap of his 3000-meter steeplechase qualifying heat, yet still gutted it out to the finish.
“I can’t imagine anything more devastating than losing a shoe in the steeple,” Braman said. “I’m proud of Mike for fighting through the pain and finishing respectfully, but that’s a tough deal for a fifth-year senior.”
The Noles can expand their list of NCAA Championship qualifiers extensively on Saturday, with 13 opportunities to join the nine already ticketed for Austin.
Sanjae Lawrence will lead it off in the men’s shot put at 2:45 p.m. The first running events begin at 6 p.m. with the women’s 4×100 relay, followed by the men. Ewers will be the last Nole to climb into the starting blocks for the 200-meter quarterfinal at 7:50 p.m.
The meet will be streamed live by FloTrack, which requires a subscription, with Saturday’s broadcast beginning at 3 p.m. https://noles.co/2VzGn2y
Live results can be accessed at https://noles.co/2EhZ31b
Follow all of the action throughout the meet via Twitter @FSU_Track and Instagram @fsu_track and check back at Seminoles.com for a complete recap of the final day.