February 22, 2017 - by
It’s Championship Go-Time At Notre Dame!

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Senior Melissa-Maree Farrington and sophomore Dante Newberg will be the first of 50 Florida State track & field athletes on the track Thursday at Notre Dame’s Loftus Sports Center, the three-day home of the Atlantic Coast Conference Indoor Championships.

Competing in the pentathlon and heptathlon, respectively, Farrington and Newberg help kick off the Seminoles’ quest for ACC individual and team titles. Farrington is the top seed in her single day, five-event competition, while Newberg is the No. 4 seed entering his two-day competition, with four events on Thursday.

“There’s a huge difference over the last year,” said Newberg, who placed 12th last year with 4,810 points, but has already improved his personal-best to 4,963 points this season. “A lot of weight training and cardio training has helped. Last year I came in pretty much new to most things. I feel pretty confident and I can go out and PR in everything…I want to be over 5300 points.”

In addition to the multi-events, the opening day of competition also includes the women’s and men’s weight throw, and the distance medley relays for both genders. Those are the first three of 17 events which will be contested over three days.

Though the Noles are far from home they won’t be lacking support. Despite the individual nature of track & field, camaraderie that crosses genders, often proves to be a great source of collective energy and motivation.

A year ago Veronika Kanuchova had to watch from the sidelines as a redshirt as the FSU women won the ACC Outdoor Championships team title. Thursday afternoon she will compete in her first conference meet, entering the weight throw as the No. 9 seed.

“The atmosphere, you can tell everyone wants to PR and do their best,” Kanuchova said. “You can see that and you want to do the same. You’re more excited. It’s really helpful and pushing you forward to do even better….

“I’m very excited. I can’t wait to compete. I’m going to do my best; I’m going to enjoy every minute. I’m not as confident as I am with the hammer, but I think I can do well and get some points for the school.”

The Seminole women will need all the production they can get to unseat No. 15 Miami, the defending ACC Indoor champions, as well as a loaded but unranked Clemson squad.

Traditionally, the FSU women’s distance medley has been a big points producer at the ACC Championships, and they could be again despite coming in as the No. 10 seed. Though the quartet of Emily Edwards, Kimmie Cunningham, Madison Harris and Bridget Blake has run only once this year, the decision to combine two heats into one will put them alongside the favorites with an opportunity to show that they are far better than their seed.

“It’s definitely exciting because we’ll be in the mix of things, so we can see everything that’s going on,” said Blake, who will run the 1600-meter anchor, just as she did when the Noles finished second last year in the event. “To be in the mix and be able to compete will be exciting and fun for us, and obviously it will be most beneficial for the team as a whole.

“I definitely know I can run better than the only one we ran this year, so that alone will help the whole team…Plus, conference adds a new element to it in terms of putting what you have out there. I think we’ll do much better. People should expect it. It’s what come to do every single year. We’re meant to be competitive here, so we’ll do it.”

Newberg has no doubt he’ll get a boost from his teammates cheering him on through his seven-event competition.

“It helps out a ton, especially in the multis,” Newberg said. “Everyone is so close and it’s such a better atmosphere than a normal meet. Everyone lifts each other’s spirits up…

“Last year, I thought maybe I could get eighth or seventh and help the team out with a point or two. This year coming in with one of the better scores, it’s not really pressure, because you know you can score higher and help the team out more. It’s a really good feeling to have.”

The action begins at 11 a.m. with the Farrington competing in the 60-meter hurdles to start the pentathlon. Newberg opens the heptathlon with the 60-meter dash at 12 noon. The weight throw follows at 2 p.m. (men) and 5 (women), with the women’s distance medley (7) and the men’s distance medley (7:30) bringing the opening day to a close.

“This is my favorite weekend of the year, other than outdoor ACC’s,” said Blake, a redshirt junior competing in her third ACC Indoor Championships. “I’m excited for everyone to experience it, feel the energy and realize the significance and how cool it is to represent Florida State.”

Friday’s competition will include a wide range of preliminary track events including top-seeded Darryl Haraway in the 60-meter dash, No. 2 seed Peta-Gay Williams leading FSU’s stout 60-meter hurdles group, as well as finals in the long jump and high jump, led by FSU favorites Jogaile Petrokaite and Eleonora Omoregie.

Follow the Noles’ exploits throughout the meet via Twitter @FSU_Track and keep abreast of each race, jump and throw via live results: http://flashresults.com/2017_Meets/Indoor/02-23_ACC/

Friday and Saturday’s action, which will begin each day at 11 a.m., will be streamed via ACC Network Extra in the following time windows:

Friday 3:30 pm-7:30 pm: http://es.pn/2kJEHmp

Saturday 12:00 pm-4:00 pm: http://es.pn/2lpWNJc

A complete recap including video highlights will be posted to Seminoles.com at the conclusion of each day of competition.

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