CLEMSON, S.C. – It was a great day for Florida State’s 200-meter dash sprinters at Saturday’s Tiger Paw Invitational, as three of five competing Seminoles posted personal-bests, two added new marks to the all-time top 10 list and one of those established a new national record.
Sophomore Jayla Kirkland turned the tables on teammate Ka’Tia Seymour, the winner of Friday’s 60-meter dash final, by lowering her 200-meter personal best to 23.29 in a fifth-place finish against an elite field of competitors in the invitational section. Kirkland grabbed sole possession of the No. 3 spot on FSU’s all-time list – just as Seymour had a day earlier in the 60 – and virtually locked up the top seed for the ACC Indoor Championships in two weeks.
“I felt really good about it,” who out-dueled Seymour through the final turn as they ran in adjoining lanes. “I knew I had to come back and refocus after the 60 and just come back tougher.”
Seymour finished ninth overall in a solid 23.45 and will enter the ACC meet as the No. 2 seed, but defending champion.
The action on Clemson’s hot track was just heating up, with the men next to climb into the starting blocks.
Competing in the men’s invitational 200, junior transfer Kasaun James was eager to prove that his two-week-old time of 20.49 – second-fastest in the nation this year – was not an outlier. Sitting out Friday’s competition as his teammates repeatedly turned in strong performances merely sharpened his focus.
“[Friday] really got me prepared for today, after seeing how well everyone competed,” James said. “I was really hyped and revved up to run today.”
Never mind that the Arkansas Baptist transfer did not earn a preferred lane or heat assignment – lane 6 of the third heat – despite his national ranking.
Bursting from the blocks, James left the field behind, and powered his way off the final turn and through the finish line. His time of 20.59 was tops among collegians and second only to US and NCAA record-holder Elijah Hall (20.55), who is now competing professionally.
“The finish was better than it was at Texas Tech,” James said. “Overall I ran it pretty smooth. It was a good race for me execution-wise.”
Yet there was more to come in the open 200 sections, where FSU freshman Bryand Rincher would make his debut at the distance and classmate DaeQwan Butler would run only his second race of the season.
Rincher was equal parts nervous and confident as he stepped onto the track for his first foray around the high-banked oval. A Florida high school graduate, he hadn’t set foot on an indoor track until January, though he has already established himself as one of the nation’s best in the 60-meter dash.
Racing out of lane 6, like James, Rincher handled the banking with the form of a veteran and clocked in a time of 20.90, which would stand up as the fastest among the 49 athletes in the open section – and much more.
Rincher shattered the Haitain national record (previously 21.13) and moved into a share of 10th place on FSU’s all-time list alongside Bahamian and Olympic medalist Stephen Newbold. His time was fifth-fastest on the day; better than 13 men in the invitational section and currently ranks 22nd nationally.
“At one point I was surprised when I looked up at the scoreboard, but then again, I knew I was going to drop 20-point because the day before the meet my teammates told me I would,” said Rincher, who received some calming advice from men’s sprints coach Rick Argro beforehand. “Coach Rick makes sure we’re ready for things like this. I took in what he told me. ‘Don’t think about it, just do it.’”
Just three meets into his collegiate career, Rincher owns both the 60- and 200-meter Haitian records.
“The Haitian record means a lot, but I’m not worried about that right now,” Rincher said. “I’ve got a lot of work to do.”
One heat later, Butler authored his own personal-best, finishing in 21.71, a significant improvement over his indoor debut of 22.00 on the same track a month earlier. It was Butler’s second personal-best of the weekend, having laid down a 400 best on Friday.
The Noles capped the day with season-best performances in the 4×400 relay. The women’s team of Janae Caldwell, Kirkland, Seymour and Karimah Davis clocked in at 3:39.66, the No. 10 time in program history and fifth-fastest in the ACC this season.
“This was definitely a confidence-booster for the 4×400,” Kirkland said. “We know that we can go faster; we know that we can be better than we were. The next meet I’m sure we’ll be better than this meet.”
The men’s team of Butler, Jhevaughn Matherson, Michael Timpson Jr. and James followed suit, rolling home to a time of 3:11.05 behind James’ 46.5 anchor carry. It is the third-fastest 4×400 time by an ACC school this season.
Among other promising performances in the final tune-up before the ACC Indoor Championships:
• Junior Kayla Maczuga, a two-time ACC outdoor scorer in the high jump, posted an indoor personal-best of 1.69 meters (5-6.50), which is tied for 10th on the tightly-bunched conference list;
• Senior Brandon Tirado made the weight throw finals on his final attempt, then capped his six-throw series with a big season-best of 19.49 meters (63-11.50), which ranks fourth in the ACC;
• Freshman DaeQwan Butler followed up his 400-meter personal-best on Friday by lowering his 200-meter best to 21.71. He capped his weekend by leading off the Noles season-best 4×400 relay effort;
Wallace’s Win, Hall’s Mile Lead in Arkansas, Boston
Armani Wallace continued his winning ways in the triple jump, collecting his third victory in as many meets Saturday at the Tyson Invitational. Wallace’s second-round mark of 16.60 meters (54-5.50) easily out-distanced a field which included three others ranked in the top 16 nationally.
His victory was the highlight of the weekend for the Noles jumps group competing at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Ark. It was Wallace’s first at the venue in his seventh and final appearance there as a collegian.
At the David Hemery Valentine Invitational in Boston, Mass., senior Michael Hall was unable to duplicate his sub-4 mile a year earlier at the Boston University track, but his season-best 4:01.12 was an encouraging step forward.
With a big finishing kick, Hall moved up to fourth on the ACC descending order list in the mile.
Fellow senior Istvan Szogi (4:06.02) registered a season-best in the mile, while junior Bert Freire’s second collegiate mile included a six-second improvement (4:11.80).
In addition to the Noles competing at the meet, FSU grad student David Barney, who ran on the 2018 outdoor team, earned a berth to the USATF Indoor Championships with a 3000-meter qualifying time of 7:59.89 to place seventh in the fast section.