AUSTIN, Texas – The opening day of the NCAA Outdoor Championships could not have begun any better for the Florida State men’s track & field team.
The Noles’ quartet of Bryand Rincher, Jhevaughn Matherson, Michael Timpson Jr. and Andre Ewers smashed the seven-year-old 4×100 school-record with Wednesday’s heat 2 victory in 38.43, easily advancing to Friday’s final.
The old record – 38.57 – was set by Kemar Hyman, Horatio Williams, Maurice Mitchell and Stephen Newbold in a runner-up finish at the 2012 NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.
FSU’s time was third-fastest time from Wednesday’s three semifinal heats, trailing Florida (38.35) and LSU (38.37), setting up what figures to be one of the fastest finals in NCAA history. The slowest of the eight finalists, North Carolina A&T, ran 39.0.
“I feel like we’ve been training for it, so it’s good to know that our hard work is finally getting the results that we’re looking for,” said Timpson, a senior, who led off Florida’s 2018 NCAA 4×100 finalists. “It’s a good feeling.”
Rincher, a freshman, left little doubt that the Noles were going to take down their season-best time of 39.04, set two weeks ago at the NCAA East Preliminary meet. He left the field behind with a monster leadoff leg and passed seamlessly to his fellow freshman, Matherson.
“We’re really excited as freshmen being on a big stage like this,” Matherson said. “We’re really trying hard to not let the atmosphere get the best of us and as you can see, we did that today. We handled business.”
Working the curve, Timpson handed off to his senior teammate, Ewers, who put the heat win to bed. The Noles easily out-distanced heat 2 runner-up Oregon (38.81).
Timpson isn’t worried about how his young teammates will handle themselves in the final, as they hunt the program’s first 4×100 NCAA title since 2011 and the fourth in FSU history.
“They’re already pretty motivated, so you don’t really have to do much,” Timpson said, when asked what kind of advice he might offer to his teammates. “We all have a common goal and I think for that reason, the momentum is being carried by all of the guys on the team. There’s not much you can do except do what we came out here to do.”
It’s worth noting that the previous record-holding quarter featured three future Olympians – Hyman, Mitchell and Newbold.
“We’ve had several 4×100 champions with multiple Olympians on those relays,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “Coach [Rick] Argro really had them ready to go.”
Any doubt that the stage might be too much for Rincher was put to rest 70 minutes later when the youngster from Fort Lauderdale advanced to the 100-meter dash finals in an all-conditions best of 10.02. A surprise 60-meter dash finalist at the NCAA Indoor Championships, where he finished fifth, he nabbed the final qualifying spot on time by finishing third in the third heat.
Rincher, who came into the meet seeded 21st in the field of 24, was riding a wave of confidence after the relay.
“It warmed up my body real well and gave me great confidence that I was going to do well in my heat,” Rincher said. “I wasn’t really thinking about anything. Coach told me to not think about anything, to just go out and run. That’s what I did.
“My mind was free and I just did my thing. I finally broke that 10.21. I’m very excited and ready for the finals.”
He finished behind Texas Tech’s Divine Oduduru and Florida’s Hakim Sani Brown. They finished in matching times of 9.96 with wind aid of +2.8. Rincher’s 10.02 actually ranked seventh among the finalists.
“Bryand is as tough a competitor as we’ve ever had,” Braman said. “He’s just so raw. Once he irons our some things he’s going to be World Class. Freshmen aren’t supposed to run like that.”
The Seminoles’ fast start to the opening day of competition came up just short of perfect when Ewers failed to advance from his semifinal round of the 200-meter dash. The senior finished sixth in heat 3 in 20.43; the 11th-fastest time in the field of 24.
“Dre got a quad cramp in the 200 that he just couldn’t recover from and make the final,” Braman said. “I’m gutted for him. He has one last chance to leave his mark in the 4×100 final.”
The Noles men will have three scoring opportunities when they return to action Friday, with second-seeded triple jumper Armani Wallace joining the 4×100 relay and Rincher.
The third-ranked Florida State women will hit the ground running, jumping and throwing Thursday, with 10 of their 11 qualifiers scheduled to compete.
The Noles will have scoring opportunities in four events on the opening day, beginning with Veronika Kanuchova in the hammer at 5:30 p.m. (ET). The javelin final, with returning bronze medalist Lauri Paredes in the field, is set for 9:15, while Jogaile Petrokaite and Rougui Sow take part in the long jump final at 9:30. Militsa Mircheva puts a wrap on the scoring opportunities with the 10,000-meter final at 10:38 p.m.
In addition to the finals the Noles will have five semifinal entries, beginning with the 4×100 relay at 8:02 p.m. Cortney Jones (100 hurdles), Jayla Kirkland (100 dash) and Ka’Tia Seymour (100 and 200) will all be vying for spots in Saturday’s final.
Live television coverage begins at 9 p.m. on ESPN2 and all of the field events will be streamed live on ESPN3.
You can follow the Noles through a variety of mediums throughout the meet, including Twitter @FSU_Track and Instagram @fsu_track.
Live results can be monitored at https://dt8v5llb2dwhs.cloudfront.net/NCAA/index.htm