June 8, 2011 - by
FSU Sprints To Strong Day 1

June 8, 2011

DES MOINES, Iowa (Seminoles.com) – The Florida State men’s and women’s track & field teams began the first day of the NCAA Championships Wednesday in Des Moines, Iowa with an impressive showing from its two fastest stars.

Competing at Drake University, the Seminoles’ (men No. 3) performances on the opening day were highlighted by the impressive one-two qualifying finish by Ngoni Makusha and Maurice Mitchell in the men’s 100m dash.

Mitchell kicked off the race with a top time of 10.16 in the first heat to qualify. Makusha then did the same by winning the third heat with a 10.13. The two speedsters produced their times despite a -1.1 and -1.0 headwind, respectively.

Florida’s Jeff Demps – the favorite in the race – failed to qualify with a 10.40, boosting the ’Noles chances for a championship moving forward.

FSU started strong Wednesday in the team’s first event of the day when the women’s 4x100m relay placed seventh with a final-day qualifying time of 43.65. The team featured Amy Harris, Marecia Pemberton, Stephanie Simpson and Britany St. Louis.

Like the women, the men’s 4x100m relay squad moved on to Saturday’s final. Kemar Hyman, Makusha, Mitchell and Brandon Byram ran a season-best 38.75 to finish fourth.

“I think we had a really good first day,” FSU head coach Bob Braman said. “Obviously that was big in the 100 and (Jeff) Demps not making it was big, too. We ran really well in the men’s 4×100 and had safe handoffs. Coach (Ken) Harnden really controlled that well. The women killed it in the 4×100. And I think we can move up from that.

“We didn’t drop any points on the ground and we still have three more days of this.”

 In the men’s 400m dash, Brandon O’Connor achieved a new personal record with a 45.51 in his fourth-place finish in the first heat. Despite it being the top time of his two-year collegiate career, it was not enough to advance to the finals.

In her first of two events, Kim Williams, who has been battling a sore ankle and elected to only take three leaps, registered a top mark of 20’4.25” in the first heat of the women’s long jump. That was enough to place 13th for the Seminoles as she will next be featured in her primary event, the triple jump, on Friday.

“She’s a gamer,” FSU jumps coach Dennis Nobles said. “She isn’t 100 percent but she’s a competitor and is focused on being ready for the triple jump.”

Also competing in the women’s long jump was Harris. She finished the event in 14th with a mark of 20’3.75”.

The field events also saw Michael Putman register a ninth-place finish in the men’s discus throw with a distance of 180’6”.

In the men’s pole vault, Andrew Lahaye finished 16th with a 16’10.75”.

“We missed some opportunities but not for lack of effort,” Braman said. “Only nine make the final in the discus and Mike (Putman) makes the final but just didn’t move up and that’s still competing well. Andrew Lahaye just missed his lifetime best and almost scored even though he wasn’t picked to do anything. Brandon O’Connor had a great race it was just a tough heat. I am proud of them. It was tough for Amy (Harris) competing after the 4×100.”

Day two of the championships starts Thursday for the Seminoles at 6:35 p.m. ET with the men’s long jump, which will feature Makusha and then shortly after that with the men’s 200m dash featuring Mitchell and Byram.

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