NOTRE DAME, Ind. – In virtually any other year in the last quarter century, Florida State senior Nadia Maffo’s weight throw personal best mark would have secured a spot on the podium at the ACC Indoor Championships.
Maffo’s fifth-round mark of 20.62 meters (67-8) in Thursday’s opening action at Notre Dame’s Loftus Sports Center came against the deepest and most talented field in conference history. So while strengthening her spot as the No. 3 weight thrower in program history, the second-year transfer was left to settle for an historic consolation prize.
No sixth-place finisher in ACC Indoor Championships history has ever thrown further.
“It is really good for me, but I’m not going to lie, I’m a little bit disappointed because I know I have so much more in me,” Maffo said, after posting the first points of the meet for the Noles. “It’s bittersweet. I’m of course happy because I brought points to the team and I PR’d, but at the same time I know I have so much more in me.
“It’s OK, because I know I’m going to bring that hunger to outdoor.”
The facts don’t lie. From the 1998 meet to Thursday night’s competition, led by four certain NCAA Championship qualifiers, Maffo’s mark would have been good enough to finish in the top three 17 times. It eclipsed the title-winning mark 12 of those years.
“I’m really pleased to see Nadia come through in her final ACC Indoor competition,” Braman said. “She always comes through on the big stage.”
Maffo was able to do it again this time, after some coaching advice in the days leading up to the meet.
“That’s the lesson I’m going to carry outdoor, to stay in the moment instead of dreaming about this big throw,” Maffo said. “You have to stay in the moment for that big throw to happen. That was great advice that I’m going to keep for the rest of the season.”
There were few big moments on the opening day of action. The men’s distance medley relay was disqualified for an early race exchange zone violation, following a dropped baton, which wiped out a sixth-place finish. North Carolina and Pitt were also disqualified.
“Tough break for the men,” Braman said. “I was proud of how they overcame the dropped baton and moved up to sixth, but in the chaos of that first exchange we stepped out of the zone. Lesson learned.”
The FSU women’s distance medley fared only slightly better, placing eighth for a single point, two spots behind their seed.
Dante Newberg started the day off competing in the first four events of the heptathlon. Overcoming a sluggish start, he rallied with third-place finishes in the shot put and high jump and stands fourth in the field of 10 competitors with 2,897 points.
“Dante did a great job and has put himself in position to medal tomorrow,” Braman said.
Newberg will kick off a busy Friday with the 60-meter hurdles at 11 a.m. and finish up with the pole vault and 1,000-meter run.
Friday’s schedule is heavy on qualification rounds, but the Noles will also be pointing to big scoring performances in the finals of the long jump, where top-seeded Isaac Grimes leads is one of four FSU jumpers projected to score.
Among the other finals contested Friday are the women’s high jump and long jump, the men’s high jump – where Caleb Parker is the No. 3 seed – and the 5,000-meter run for men and women. Steven Cross and Silas Griffith lead the men, while Elizabeth Funderburk and Rebecca Clark are the highest seeded women in the longest race of the meet.
The most highly anticipated qualifying races are the women’s 60- and 200-meter dashes, led by Jayla Kirkland and two-time defending MVP Ka’Tia Seymour, as well as the men’s 60-meter dash, led by Taylor Banks and Jhevaughn Matherson.
Trey Cunningham begins his pursuit for a record third-consecutive 60-meter hurdles title alongside Parker, Braxton Canady and Tyricke Highman, who are seeded among the top seven.
You can follow the Noles throughout the meet via Twitter @FSU_Track and catch up with nightly recaps by visiting Seminoles.com. Real time results can be monitored at https://theacc.co/itf20results.