AUSTIN, Texas – In the process of setting two school records, behind three All-American performances over three events, the Florida State men scored 18 points on the final day of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships to finish 17th overall.
The Seminoles’ 4×100 relay team set the tone on a record-setting Friday at Mike A. Myers Stadium, breaking the collegiate record in a runner-up finish to rival Florida. Smashing their two-day-old school record, the team of freshmen Bryand Rincher and Jhevaughn Matherson teamed with seniors Michael Timpson Jr. and Andre Ewers to produce a record-run of 38.08 seconds.
Ewers simply ran out of real estate in his effort to chase down Florida anchor Ryan Clark as the Gators grabbed the gold in 37.97, with both schools eradicating Houston’s year-old NCAA and championship meet record of 38.17.
It was merely the start of a special day for the Noles, as senior Armani Wallace broke his FSU triple jump record in a third place finish and Rincher – the No. 21 seed coming into the competition – finished fifth in the 100-meter dash with the seventh-fastest time in program history.
“Our men were True Seminoles today, with historically good performances, and we recorded a solid 17th-place finish,” said FSU coach Bob Braman. “That’s truly fantastic considering all of our injuries this year.
“We lose two elites in Andre and Armani, but we return a ton of talent, get two injured All-Americans in Trey Cunningham and Kasaun James back, plus an incredible recruiting class. We will have a legitimate shot to win it all next year.”
While the future is bright, the Noles were shining in the present in front of a sun-baked crowd of 11,037 at Mike A. Myers Stadium.
It began with the relay team, which efficiently moved the baton through all three exchanges, with Timpson passing the stick to Ewers in second place behind Florida. In his final race with the Noles, fueled by his disappointment of not advancing to the 200-meter final on Wednesday, Ewers nearly delivered FSU its fourth 4×100 NCAA title.
“There’s no reason to be upset,” Ewers said. “I wanted the victory. I was closing on him as fast as I can, but there’s only 100 meters.”
The silver medal, and a collegiate and school-record performance was a satisfactory consolation for a group, which until Wednesday’s semifinal round time of 38.43, had not dipped under 39 seconds this season.
Timpson, a year removed from running the leadoff leg for Florida’s third-place 4×100 team, suspected his Noles were capable of something special. And, while pleased with the team’s performance, had only one regret.
“From my perspective I felt like if I could have given Dre the baton a little earlier he would have been a little more in the race, but he did a really good job of closing,” he said.
Ewers had no regrets after his final race as a Seminole
“Even though we didn’t get the victory, in my eyes, we kind of did because we went out there and it took two NCAA records to actually win,” he said. “Florida ran 37.97 and we ran 38.08. We’re thankful for that.”
Matherson, a member of Jamaica’s 4×100 U20 national record team last summer, was basking in the moment; his first at a NCAA Championship meet.
“It’s the fastest 4×1 I’ve ever been on and it feels amazing, being on there running against some of the fastest men in college,” he said. “It’s another school record and it’s even a little more special that it was an NCAA record and it took another NCAA record to beat us.”
Just as Wallace was getting his triple jump competition started, Rincher was climbing into the blocks for his second NCAA Championships sprint final this year. Fifth in the 60-meter dash at the NCAA Indoor Championships, the Fort Lauderdale native was not over-matched against a field which produced three of the 10 fastest times in championship meet history.
First from the blocks, Rincher led the field for the first 25-30 meters, and crossed the line in fifth place with a new personal-best of 10.06, which is also a Haitian national record. He came into the meet with a legal best of 10.21 in an outdoor season that didn’t get started until the final weekend in April, after taking some time away from the team to attend to personal matters.
“I couldn’t imagine it at all, what I went through in the middle of the season,” Rincher said. “God and Coach Ricky [Argro] are the reasons why I’m here today.
“I’m actually glad that I had the support system to come back, run for Florida State and be here in Austin, Texas and be an All-American again.”
Actually, the Noles’ only two-time first-team All-American of the meet.
“Bryand is one of the gutsiest kids to ever wear the uniform,” Braman said. “You don’t see freshmen holding their own in the fastest collegiate 100-meter race ever, but that’s just what he did.”
Back over at the triple jump, Wallace was sitting in 13th place with one attempt remaining to land a spot in the nine-man final. He cashed in with a mark of 16.65 meters (54-7.5) to climb into sixth place, then proceeded to make a little more history in his final meet with the Noles.
“I was sitting 13th with 15.89, and usually that’s going to get you to the final if you’re in Oregon, but we’re in Texas and it’s hot and everybody’s muscles were relaxed and they could jump,” Wallace said. “I think it took 16.40 to get to the finals. I kept my composure, got into the finals.”
Wallace grabbed the lead with a fourth-round mark of 16.99 meters (55-9), taking down his own month-old FSU record. The Orlando native’s lead held up through the fifth round, though he was unable to build on it with consecutive fouls. Then he watched as Virginia’s Jordan Scott (17.01m/55-9.75) and TCU’s Chengetayi Mapaya (17.13m/56-2.5) moved past him in the final round.
“This is a sport that’s the survival of the fittest,” Wallace said. “Going into the final, when they reordered us, they had the say-so. Those guys out-jumped me. They’re definitely world class. I’m going to see them again…
“I’m happy. I’m overjoyed. It doesn’t feel like a loss. Those guys are world-class. They jumped world class today. If the IAAF will hear me, this is a top-tier meet.””
Braman, who had a hand in recruiting Wallace out of high school, had high praise for one of the cornerstones of the program’s turnaround over the past four years.
“Armani was fantastic,” Braman said. “His 16.99 would have won the last six national championships. He just found himself in the best triple jump competition of all time.”
Wallace, who will compete at the USATF Senior Championships in July as the top collegiate American after scoring outdoors for the first time in three appearance, was appreciative of the opportunity to wear the uniform.
“I couldn’t be more thankful than to wear this jersey,” Wallace said. “This jersey has meant a lot to me over the course of my career here. It’s really molded me, not only as an athlete, but as a man. I just thank Florida State for that.”
Paredes Sets Up Women For Final Day Podium Push
On the final day of men’s competition, sophomore Lauri Paredes provided the Noles women with their second scoring performance of the meet.
Just as she did a year ago on her way to a third-place finish in the javelin, Parades’ opening-round throw of 53.13 meters (174-3) was her best mark of the day. This time it stood up for a seventh-place finish and first-team All-American honors.
“I came with confidence to this competition,” said Paredes, who clustered six legal marks between 49.81 and 53.13, but could not connect for the big mark she was hoping for. “I wasn’t very nervous, it just wasn’t the day today. I’m not giving up on this year. I’m going back to Paraguay now and will wait for the big day….
“It was a good year for me. All of my competitions, I was over 53 [meters], but it wasn’t enough for this competition. Next year I need to focus more on my technique. I know I can do better under pressure, but like I said before, today wasn’t the day.”
The third-ranked FSU women will enter the final day of competition tied for 16th-place with 6 points, but with five scoring opportunities in their bid to return to the podium with their first top-four finish since 2009.
Shanice Love, the No. 2 seed in the discus, will get Saturday’s schedule started at 6:05 p.m. (ET); then turns things over to her teammates on the track.
The women’s 4×100 relay is first up on the track at 6:32, followed by Cortney Jones’ 100-meter hurdles final. Ka’Tia Seymour will get two more cracks to add points in the 100- and 200-meter finals.
ESPN2 will carry the action live beginning at 6:30 p.m. You can follow the Noles through a variety of mediums, including Twitter @FSU_Track and Instagram @fsu_track.
Live results are available at https://dt8v5llb2dwhs.cloudfront.net/NCAA/index.htm