CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Hoisting the ACC Outdoor Track & Field Championship trophy into the air at the University of Miami’s Cobb Stadium Saturday night was the perfect conclusion to an imperfect and nerve-wracking final day for the Florida State men’s team.
The Seminole men won their 12th ACC title – the most of an active conference school – by holding off a hard charge from Syracuse and two-time defending champion Virginia Tech.
While junior Andre Ewers’ Track MVP performance – a dominating sweep of the 100- and 200-meter dashes – earned him a place among the Noles’ all-time greats, it was junior Armani Wallace’s triple jump victory with one event remaining which sealed the title.
The Noles finished with 116 points, edging the Orange (108) and Hokies (105.5) at the end of a day that didn’t exactly follow the form sheet.
“We had a whale of a meet,” Braman said. “We missed very few points and our kids stepped up and met the usual Virginia Tech challenge… These are never easy and we cherish every one.”
Ewers was the undisputed star as the Noles clung to their overnight lead, first contributing a second-place 4×100 relay finish, before he took over the solo sprint events. The junior college transfer, running in front of family – including his three-year-old son Aiden – and friends, started things off with a 10.13 to dominate the 100-meter dash. Darryl Haraway was a strong third in 10.38.
He was even more of a force in the 200, winning in a stunning 19.98 (+2.3), more than a half-second ahead of his nearest competitor.
“Andre Ewers is really special,” Braman said. “He’s now in rare company as one of the best in the 200 of any school in the NCAA.”
Trey Cunningham and Tyricke Dickens finished third and seventh in the 110-meter hurdles, while Austin Droogsma and Noah Agwu finished 4-5 in the discus.
Just as Syracuse was polishing off a 33-point haul in the 5000-meter run to make things interesting, Wallace was putting the finishing touches on his clinching triple jump triumph. Matching his season-best mark with a leap of 16.25 meters (53-3.75), he put the Noles’ lead out of reach.
“Armani is special at ACC time and he worked through some hamstring issues to be the beast that he is,” Braman said. “Droogs competes like a tiger every ACC meet and was a 15-point man, but Noah’s personal-best and Darryl’s third-place finish might’ve been the difference.”
Corion Knight was awarded Field MVP honors for his 18-point weekend.
The Seminole women came up shy of their title, trailing host and champion Miami (117 points) and Virginia Tech (11), but their 102.5-point third-place total required a huge final day effort.
The ladies began the day 27.5 points off the lead and tied for fifth, but wasted no time digging into that deficit.
Freshman Lauri Paredes delivered the Noles their first javelin ACC Championship title, locking up the competition with a third-round collegiate-best mark of 53.81 meters (176-6), and sophomore Kayla Maczuga chipped in a fourth-place throw (44.09m) for a 15-point net in the opening event.
A second-place finish by the 4×100 relay team of Cortney Jones, Shauna Helps, Jayla Kirkland and Ka’Tia Seymour kept the momentum going.
That quartet was not done. Jones dipped under 13 seconds for the first time in the 100-meter hurdles, as her 12.93 (+2.7) was good for silver.
The Noles’ biggest push came in the 100-meter dash where Seymour ran down teammate and two-time champion Helps to set the conference and meet record, winning in 11.22. Helps was a strong second in 11.27 and Kirkland personal-best 11.37 was good for fourth.
At that point, with 15 of 21 events scored, the Noles trailed Virginia Tech 85-79.5 with Miami third (74).
Kirkland would add a sixth-place finish in the 200 (23.57) and the Noles piled up 20 points in the discus behind sophomore Shanice Love’s title (57.14m/187-5), with Ieva Zarankaite (54.76/182-4) and Gleneve Grange (51.13/167-9) third and fifth.
“Our ladies were nearly perfect,” Braman said. “We only missed on one event and it would’ve given us a shot, but it’s not realistic to hit on everything. Our throwers were dominating as always and our 100-meter ladies made a statement with a massive rebound.
“Having three ACC defending champions dinged up at home certainly hurt us, but that’s the nature of the sport. I’m certainly proud of our effort this weekend.”
The Noles will now turn their attention toward the NCAA East Preliminary – the first step on the path to the NCAA Championships – which will be contested May 24-26 at USF in Tampa, Fla.