NOTRE DAME, Ind. – With a dominant long jump performance, outstanding qualifying efforts and a surprise or two Friday at the Loftus Sports Center, the Florida State men enter Saturday’s conclusion of the ACC Indoor Track & Field Championship with a one-point lead over the field.
Propelled by a 32-point haul in the long jump, where Fabian Edoki lead a 1-2-3-4-6 finish, the Noles scored 46 points, good for a one-point edge over Virginia (45), with favorite Virginia Tech (40) and host Notre Dame (37) lurking.
Scoreless Friday, but qualifying well, the FSU women have a long climb from 14th-place on the final day.
“The long jump jump-started our day with an incredible finish,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “All five men were dialed in and fed off each other. Edoki dropped a season-best on the first jump of the competition and that was the spark we needed for the entire meet.”
The senior transfer from Middle Tennessee State was the first man on the runway and delivered a season-best opening leap of 7.86 meters (25-9.5), improving on his No. 11 national ranking coming into the meet.
“I was ready to go,” said Edoki. “I didn’t want to put pressure on myself, I wanted to put it on everyone else. I’m excited for nationals. I have to help the team tomorrow to score points in the triple jump, but after that I can worry about nationals.”
Edoki held off his teammate and top seed Isaac Grimes, whose fifth-round attempt of 7.85 meters (25-9.25) was good for a runner-up finish.
“I was worried because it’s so difficult to beat Isaac; he’s really, really good,” Edoki added.
The Noles weren’t done. Freshman Jeremiah Davis unloaded his own personal-best in the fourth round (7.69m/25-2.75) to claim third place in his ACC Championship debut and finish third. Junior transfer Darius Clark was fourth at 7.60m (24-11.25) and junior Jacore Irving put together eclipsed his previous lifetime best three times, capped off by his sixth-place mark of 7.51m (24-7.75).
“It’s very exciting,” said Davis, who earned first-team All-ACC honors. “Being a freshman here, competing with my teammates and popping a big PB is just an amazing feeling…To play a big part in that was amazing.”
Edoki, Grimes, Davis and Clark were all competing in their first ACC Championships, but weren’t the only first-timers to shine.
Sophomore Austin Thompson, a transfer from UNF, came into the pole vault competition seeded 12th and delivered a big scoring boost in the Noles’ title chase. The Orlando, Fla. native posted a two-bar personal-best, clearing 4.98 meters (16-4) to finish fourth; ahead of rival Virginia Tech’s No. 2 vaulter.
“It was really great to see so many new Seminoles step up in their ACC Championships debuts,” Braman said. “Perhaps none were more unexpected that Austin Thompson. He not only bettered two lifetime bests, but he also took down the Virginia Tech star in one of our key head-to-head battles.”
“I love competing and I don’t love being the underdog, but when I am, it riles me up,” Thompson said. “I definitely gives me energy being the underdog. I love competing and performing and I thought I could give points to the team…
“We had to switch poles and I trusted my coaches. I felt a lot of juice in my legs so my run was really, really good and I had a lot of confidence swinging up. I think that played a huge role in how I did.”
Another senior transfer, Caleb Parker, finished fourth in the high jump to account for the Noles’ final points of the day.
Senior Dante Newberg capped off his first heptathlon in two seasons with a solid second day, finishing fifth with 4,783 points for second-team All-ACC honors.
Whether the Noles men can hold off their challengers and hoist a third consecutive ACC Championship trophy will rest with a group of finals qualifiers who did plenty of heavy lifting Friday.
Our men has a monster day,” Braman gushed. “We qualified beyond expectations and that’s put us right back in the battle for the title.”
FSU advanced four men, including the top three seeds, to the finals of Saturday’s opening 60-meter hurdles. Trey Cunningham set up his pursuit of a record third consecutive title by qualifying first in 7.65, with senior Braxton Canady securing an NCAA berth with a lifetime-best (7.70) as the second seed, followed by Parker and Tyricke Highman, who is seeded sixth enter the finals.
The sprint tandem of sophomore Jhevaughn Matherson and Taylor Banks locked down the Nos. 3-4 seeds in both the 60- and 200-meter finals. Matherson dropped personal-bests of 6.61 and 21.10, while Banks followed up his 6.64 with a 21.24 in his first 200 of the season.
The longer sprint duo of DaeQwan Butler and Kyle Fearrington dialed up personal-bests of 46.65 and 47.09 in the 400 – Nos. 5 and tied for ninth on FSU’s all-time list – to qualify second and fifth, respectively.
Grad transfer Kasey Knevelbaard and senior Bert Freire carried the middle distance banner. Knevelbaard cruised to the second-fastest time in the mile (4:02.88), while Freire will compete in his first 800 final after dropping a 1:51.51.
“It was great to see Bert finally make the final in his senior year,” Braman said. “He battled hard and executed to perfection. He has a chance to put some key points on the board and in event that has three Virginia Tech qualifiers.”
To no one’s surprise, junior Ka’Tia Seymour was the star of the qualifying show for the women. Winner of the last two ACC Championship Track MVP awards, she qualified first in both the 60 (7.23) and 200 (23.20), and will have a chance to double-repeat and potentially win a record third consecutive MVP award. In the process, Seymour also moved up to No. 11 on the national qualifying list in the 60.
“Ka’Tia was on top of her game and looked like her usual dominant self,” Braman said.
Seymour will be joined in the two sprint finals by junior classmate Jayla Kirkland. Senior Janae Caldwell authored the No. 4 400-meter dash time in program history (53.37), qualifying second for the final. Junior Maudie Skyring ran tactically perfect to automatically qualify for her third consecutive mile final in an energy-conserving 4:46.96.
“Janae’s lifetime best puts her in great position for the final and Maudie was in total control and she’ll be in the mix to win tomorrow,” Braman said.
In addition to the qualifiers, the Noles will look to cash in on scoring opportunities in the men’s and women’s triple jump, shot put and 3,000-meter, the women’s pole vault and the final event – for both genders – the 4×400 relay.
You can follow the Noles throughout the final day via Twitter @FSU_Track and catch up the recap by visiting Seminoles.com. Real time results can be monitored at https://theacc.co/itf20results.
ACC Network Extra will stream much of the Saturday’s action, beginning at 12 p.m. https://theacc.co/itf20accnx2 .