LUBBOCK, Texas – Top-ranked Florida State’s strength in the men’s 60-meter hurdles is key to the Seminoles’ aspirations for the first NCAA indoor track & field title in program history.
The Noles drove that point home emphatically Friday night at the Sports Performance Center, sweeping the top four spots in the final to cap an impressive, three-round day.
Junior Trey Cunningham stands alone as the Florida State, Atlantic Coast Conference and facility record-holder, lowering his lifetime-best to 7.52 to lead the way. Progressively faster through each of the rounds, he closed the night by putting his name alongside Ron Bramlett and Terrence Trammell as the eighth-fastest hurdler in collegiate history.
“It’s extremely encouraging because our practices are much more rigorous than the five hurdles that are in front of us in our 60 meters,” Cunningham said, summing up his big day at the Texas Tech Invitational. “Running the three rounds is actually quite easy because it’s only a total of 15 hurdles, compared to our usual 40-plus hurdles in practice.
“It’s showing consistency as well, that I can keep my times going down.”
Seniors and first-year Noles Caleb Parker and Braxton Canady followed in 7.63 and 7.74, while junior Tyricke Highman was fourth in 7.90. Parker put together three sub-7.70 rounds, including a preliminary round 7.61 that was not only a personal-best, but solidified his position as the nation’s best collegian not named Cunningham.
Both Cunningham and Parker eradicated the facility record, previously held by Texas’ John Burt (7.73), a Tallahassee native. In fact, they combined to break the mark six times between the three rounds.
The blanket finish by the Noles made the day all the more enjoyable.
“It makes the final easy; it makes it fun,” Cunningham said. “It’s just like we’re at practice and all four of us have fun with it.”
It is also the payoff of having all four working alongside each other under first-year FSU hurdles coach Matt Kane every day.
“It keeps everybody in check,” Cunningham said. “If somebody has a bad day, you know it because we’re all in the top 16 in the country. Right now all of us are going to nationals, so practice is pretty intense when we’re going over some hurdles.”
The highlights Friday were not limited to the hurdlers.
Junior triple jump Jacore Irving, competing in a field that included Olympians Omar Craddock and Clive Pullen, summoned up some third-round magic to make the final. The Panhandle native and Sneads High grad was in 14th place with one jump remaining and promptly responded with a personal-best mark of 15.55 meters (51-0.25) to advance in the No. 8 position.
“I had to really bring it to get to the finals and I was determined to get to the finals,” said Irving, who came into the meet with an indoor best of 15.31 (50-2.75). “So I prayed and brought what we’ve been practicing every day to the runway.”
The third-round mark would be the first of four better than his previous best. Irving closed out the night with consecutive jumps of 15.70 (61-6.25) to finish eighth against a stout field. With it, he climbed 34 positions on the NCAA Indoor national list to No. 18; still outside of a top-16 qualifying mark, but well within the realm of possibility.
“It’s just a glimpse, to show how hard we’ve worked all fall to get to the point where we are right now,” Irving said of his performance. “This is just a stepping stone to where we’re going to be. I’m excited to have finally found the rhythm I’ve been looking for this season. There’s bigger things to come.”
Sophomore Jhevaughn Matherson also put himself in NCAA Championship qualifying position in the 60-meter dash. The talented sophomore from Jamaica dropped a semifinal round personal-best of 6.65 seconds, lowering his previous best of 6.71 and moving into a share of 10th place on the national list.
Taylor Banks advanced to the 60-meter dash final as well, running 6.67 in the semis, and came back to place fifth in the final (6.69). Sprints coach Rick Argro held Matherson out of the final to keep him fresh for Saturday’s 200-meter dash competition.
The Seminole men recorded three heat victories in the 400-meter dash. Senior Kyle Fearrington had the fastest time of the group (47.88), but freshman Cameron Daniel turned out a personal-best of 47.97 to win his section, while sophomore DaeQwan Butler was virtually uncontested in his heat win in 48.05.
Action was relatively light on the women’s side. The 12th-ranked Noles’ trio of Janae Caldwell (54.28), Karimah Davis (55.41) and Kimmie Cunningham (57.67) competed in the 400-meter dash. Trentorria Green posted a mark of 12.17 meters (49-11.25) in the triple jump, which was won by former Seminole great and two-time Olympian Kimberly Williams in her season debut (14.11m/46-3.5).
Saturday’s schedule for the Noles will begin with freshman Winston Quinn’s debut in the 800-meter run at 1:15 p.m. (ET). Ka’Tia Seymour and Jayla Kirkland will line up in the first two heats of the 200-meter dash, which begins at 1:50, with Matherson to follow on the men’s side.
The talented long jump trio of Isaac Grimes, Fabian Edoki and Darius Clark will cap off the action in the seeded flight of competition, set for 2:30 p.m.
Distance Noles get started at Indiana Relays
Kasey Knevelbaard will make his one-mile debut Saturday afternoon at the Indiana Relays against a field which could well help the graduate transfer challenge Tom Lancashire’s 14-year-old school record of 3:58.52. He will be joined in the race by teammates Bert Freire and Tyler Dau.
Steven Cross and Caleb Pottorff will lead a group of five Noles in the 3000-meter run.
You can keep up with all the action from both venues via Twitter @FSU_Track and come back to Seminoles.com for a complete recap later in the evening.