AUSTIN, Texas – The model of consistency throughout the season, junior Shanice Love delivered the top performance for the Florida State women’s team Saturday, finishing second in the discus to lead the Noles to a share of 10th-place at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Love’s second-round throw of 62.69 meters (205-8) – 3 centimeters shy of Kellion Knibb’s FSU record – capped a series which included all six throws over 60 meters, and delivered the Noles eight points on the final day.
Junior Cortney Jones placed sixth in the 100-meter hurdles (12.81) and the 4×100 relay team of Karimah Davis, Jayla Kirkland, Shauna Helps and Ka’Tia Seymour broke their two day old ACC record, placing seventh in 43.13. Seymour’s eighth-place finish in the 100-meter dash capped the scoring on a sweltering final day of competition at Mike A. Myers Stadium.
Seymour withdrew from the 200-meter dash final after suffering an injury in the 100 final.
“I’m really pleased with the year our ladies have had,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “To end up 10th after losing Ka’Tia is a really great result. This is one of the best track meets in the world and it’s incredibly tough to reach top-10.”
FSU’s 20-point team total ranks as the sixth-most since the NCAA went to its current scoring model in 1985. It is also the 10th, top-10 finish in program history.
The Noles got the day going with the 4×100 relay laying down the second-fastest time in program history and improving on Thursday’s time of 43.23, which broke the record held by Clemson at 43.31. FSU’s 1983 NCAA Championship team’s 42.94 is the only group to have run faster.
“The heat was both in temperature and competition, but it was good,” said Helps, the lone senior on the relay. “I’m grateful that we took down the ACC record and I have to give thanks for that, and all of us walked off the track looking healthy and good.”
Led by USC’s facility record winning time of 42.21, four teams dipped under the 43-second standard.
“I said this meet was tough, but when you get the ACC record and it only gets you seventh, then that says it all,” Braman said.
Helps was especially appreciative of being able to close out her decorated career with a memorable effort, thanks in part to her relay teammates which included a freshman (Davis) and a pair of sophomores (Kirkland and Seymour).
“I have to give thanks to them,” Helps added. “Having them join this program has been the best thing ever. I’ve been able to PR while they were here, bring me to nationals and win a team [ACC] title. I’m just so grateful for these girls.”
The feeling was mutual.
“I know that Shauna is graduating and I wanted to get her out of here with a bang,” said Kirkland, who was anxious to get back on the track after posting the second-fastest 100-meter dash in FSU history in the semifinal round.
Jones was next up on the track, and while the junior was unable to match her third-place finish from a year ago, she remained the picture of sustained excellence. Her 12.81 time in the final marked her seventh consecutive sub-13 round this season, when she became FSU’s all-time leader in the event (12.72).
“It’s been a record-setting year for Cortney,” Braman said. “She never had a bad race. She missed the start today and just couldn’t make it up. She’ll have a shot to win it all next year.”
Winner Janeek Brown of team champion Arkansas missed the NCAA record by .01 seconds, winning in 12.40 as the top three finishers all posted personal-bests of 12.66 or better.
Seymour, coming off Thursday personal-bests of 11.11 – breaking her own ACC 100-meter record – and 22.55 in the 200, never really had the opportunity to shine beyond the opening relay. The Palatka, Fla. native was forced to shut down midway through the 100-meter final with a leg injury, which kept her out of the 200 final.
“I’m sick for Ka’Tia,” Braman said of the ACC Championships Track MVP. “She was certainly ready to score big points in both sprints. She’s had such an amazing season.”
Love’s day did not go exactly as planned either, after throws coach Dorian Scott left Austin late Friday night to drive home for the early arrival of he and his wife Geneva’s first child. Sterling Scott was born Saturday around lunchtime.
“I was nervous,” Love said, who maintained a calm exterior throughout the competition. “I couldn’t even feel my arms. Knowing that my coach was not here, I knew I had to be strong and work hard. I know the technique, so I tried to calm myself – speed is not my friend – and just calm my brain down.”
Love went to bed in tears, but was calmed by a call from her coach Saturday morning.
“When he called me, I felt better,” Love said. “[Friday] we had a good pre-meet and I thought about that going into today’s competition. I remained calm and listened to coach’s voice in my head and that helped calm me down.”
And she delivered with remarkable proficiency, opening up with a personal-best of 61.74 meters (202-7) for the first round lead, then following with her eye-popping 62.69, only to be passed by Iowa’s Laulauga Tasusaga (63.26m/207-6) on the very next throw.
“I’m so, so happy about my series,” said Love, who beat fellow Jamaican and national record-holder Shadae Lawrence for the first time on the eve of her own birthday. “I tried my best to go after every single one of those throws.”
“That was a fantastic job by Shanice; lifetime-bests on the biggest stage,” Braman said. “This will be a memorable day for Coach Scott.”
A ‘Sterling’ silver one, thanks to the arrival of his son and another special delivery by his first-team All-American discus thrower.