LUBBOCK, Texas – Florida State junior Kasaun James secured his first career victory Saturday at the Texas Tech Classic and he did it in a style that has become ridiculously commonplace.
Drawing lane six in the third heat of the 200-meter dash, James’ winning time of 20.49 was faster than Texas Tech’s Divine Oduduru and FSU teammate Andre Ewers – the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Championship gold and silver medalists – and elevated him among the all-time greats in Seminole history.
By obliterating his previous personal-best (20.87), the junior college transfer from Arkansas Baptist moved to No. 4 on FSU’s all-time list, behind Walter Dix, Maurice Mitchell and Brandon Byram. That trio has combined for six NCAA titles and 19 All-American honors over that distance between the indoor and outdoor seasons.
“That’s good company,” FSU men’s sprints coach Rick Argro said.
Ewers finished fourth (20.99) while Darryl Haraway (21.11) and Michael Timpson Jr. (21.13) were seventh and ninth, capping a solid building block weekend for the men’s sprint team.
Less than 24 hours after lowering his 60-meter dash personal-best to 6.56, James laid down a 200 which secured the No. 2 time in the World over both distances; an astonishing start to his two-meet old Division I career.
“It was a shock to run as fast as I did because I’ve been focusing on the 60 a lot,” said James, who had no idea he was ready to drop nearly four-tenths of a second off his personal-best. “It’s a big drop and a huge PR for me, but being here and training in this group I had no doubt that I was going to run fast.”
An elated Argro said he would have been pleased if James ran 20.70 in his debut.
“He’s far and away exceeded my expectations indoor, early, but with the way he’s looked in training and how he’s progressing and adjusting to the program, you could see the signs that he was going to do big things,” Argro said. “But to see the things he’s doing and doing it this early, it’s definitely surprising.”
Argro was most pleased with the way James handled himself throughout his first meet against elite competition.
“He came into it with the right mindset; didn’t put too much pressure on himself,” Argro said. “He just kind of took it day-by-day, race-by-race and just treated it like a normal meet. He’s obviously super talented.”
“I feel honored to be in this group and to run at FSU,” James said. “Coach Rick has really prepared me to be a great sprinter…I have no doubt that I’m going to go faster and break that record. That’s what I want.”
That record is Dix’s school mark of 20.27, set in 2006, which is the ninth-fastest in NCAA history.
James said remaining healthy and continuing to work hard alongside an elite collection of teammates are keys to his further success.
“I’m hungrier than I’ve ever been this season,” he added. “I want more.”
Saturday’s schedule at the Sports Performance Center was abbreviated for the Noles. Rougui Sow was beaten on the final attempt of the women’s long jump competition by USC’s Margaux Jones by the narrowest of margins – 6.33 meter to 6.32. Jacore Irving advanced to the finals of the men’s long jump out of the first flight and placed ninth.
Dr. Sander Invitational Recap
Jayla Kirkland remained unbeaten on the season, completing her sprint sweep at the Dr. Sander Invitational with a 200-meter dash victory in 23.76. It was the fourth win of the weekend for the Noles at the The Armory’s New Balance Track & Field Center.
The sophomore from Birmingham, Ala. won the 60-meter dash on Friday, while teammates Trey Cunningham and Cortney Jones swept the 60-meter hurdle titles. Cunningham won in a school record-tying time of 7.53, which also set the facility and meet records.
Redshirt freshman Karimah Davis’ 400-meter debut with the Noles produced a promising runner-up finish in 54.06; the No. 7 time in FSU history.
“It’s good to see Jayla remain undefeated and executing with so much consistently, even on a tough track for the 200,” said FSU director of sprints, hurdles and relays, Brandon Hon. “Karimah showed how much of a fighter she is, battling to a top-10 all time performance while still catching up on training.
“Attitude, effort and execution is what we live by…They came in with a can-do attitude and got the job done as we get ready to sharpen the blade for battle.”
Bob Pollock Invitational Recap
Militsa Mircheva capped a big weekend for the Noles at Clemson, leading a 1-3-4 charge across the finish in Saturday’s 3000-meter run. Mircheva won in 9:22.45 – one of eight personal-best times by Noles in the race – and was followed closely by Jodie Judd (9:26.42) and Maudie Skyring (9:27.48).
Mircheva’s time ranks No. 8 in the NCAA, while Judd (No. 14) and Skyring (No. 16) are close behind in their chase to lock in trips to the NCAA Indoor Championships, which are awarded to the top 16 times nationally following the conclusion of the regular season on Feb. 24.
“I’m very happy with weekend,” said FSU women’s distance coach Kelly Phillips. “They all have been working hard together and they are making each other better each week. No one wants to be left home. I’m looking forward to two more weeks of training and getting after it again and hopefully getting a few NCAA qualifiers.”
Eight of Phillips’ 10 entries in the 3000 posted personal-bests, one day after all six milers notched personal-bests, led by Judd’s 4:42.10. That time currently ranks No. 17 nationally.
The Noles also got a win from junior transfer Nadi Maffo in the weight throw as her sixth-round mark of 19.68 meters (64-7) moved her from sixth place to victory. The former Southern Miss standout not only improved on her season-opening performance, but at No. 4 on FSU’s all-time list, is knocking on the door of challenging the school record.
Steven Cross ran 8:14.32 to finish second in the men’s 3000-meter run. Hunter Napier moved up to No. 7 on FSU’s all-time list in the heptathlon, placing eighth with 4,368 points; a 239-point improvement over his previous high total.