BLACKSBURG, Va. – Bob Braman correctly predicted that his Florida State men’s and women’s teams would be chasing ACC Indoor Track & Field title defenses.
The Noles went to bed Friday night with ground to be gained but plenty of firepower to get there following a productive, if not drama-free, full day of competition at the Rector Field House.
The 11th-ranked Seminole women enter Saturday finale tied with Miami for fifth place with 25 points, and looking up at Louisville (50), Duke (40), Virginia Tech (27) and Notre Dame (26). The ninth-ranked men are sixth (16 points) and pursuing host Virginia Tech (37), Virginia (31), NC State (30), Notre Dame (22) and Pitt (17).
“Today we competed as hard as any teams I’ve ever had at the ACC Championships,” said Braman, who is in his 15th-year at the helm. “We’ve had so many injuries and so much adversity, and yet we’re in a position to potentially win them both.”
While the bulk of Friday’s slate was dedicated to qualifying for Saturday’s finals – which both teams did with great success – it also produced the first champion.
Graduate transfer Rougui Sow won the long jump with a personal-best and NCAA-leading leap of 6.49 meters (21-3.5) to get the scoring started. She was joined by senior Jogaile Petrokaite, who in her second competition since the 2017 season, finished fifth with a season-best mark of 6.14 meters (20-1.75). Based on seeding, those were points the Noles were not expected to get.
And they weren’t the only ones.
Junior transfer Nadia Maffo came into the weight throw competition as the No. 10 seed and responded with a new personal-best of 20.40 meters (66-11.25) to place sixth. It is the third-best mark in program history.
On the men’s side, junior David Lott rallied from ninth place at the start of the final day of heptathlon competition to finish fifth, buoyed by personal-bests in the 60-meter hurdles (8.44) and pole vault (4.00m/13-1.5). His two-day total of 4,857 points ranks fifth in FSU history.
Fifth-year senior Christoff Bryan had not competed due to injury since winning the 2017 NCAA Outdoor high jump title for Kansas State, but he bowed up on a tender knee to place sixth with a clearance of 2.09 meters (6-10.25). And senior Brandon Tirado added a career-best fifth-place finish in the weight throw (18.89m/61-11.75) to account for all 16 of the Noles points.
“People like Christoff and David Lott exemplified those gut checks we really needed,” Braman said.
Coupling those efforts with exceptional qualifying performances is the reason the Noles still have a chance to make a little history and become just the second school to sweep both men’s and women’s ACC titles in consecutive years.
The FSU men’s sprint squad is poised to pile up a ton of points between the 60- and 200-meter dashes, qualifying six and five, respectively for the finals. Freshman Bryand Rincher (6.60) and junior Kasaun James (6.65) were the top two qualifiers in the 60 and joined by seniors Darryl Haraway (6.66) and Michael Timpson (6.70), freshman Jhevaughn Matherson and sophomore Darryl Gay who turned in matching PBs of 6.71.
James (20.90) and Rincher (20.93) reversed roles as the top two seeds in the 200 and will be joined in the final by the third-seeded Matherson (PB 21.21), Timpson (21.25) and Haraway (21.33).
Freshman DaeQwan Butler posted the most promising qualifying performance of the day when he equaled for Nole star Charles Clark’s No. 7 all-time mark in the 400-meter dash (47.03) which stood as the second-fastest time of the day.
To no one’s surprise sophomore favorite and defending champion Trey Cunningham rolled through 60-meter hurdle qualifying with the top time (7.65) and will be joined in the final by Tyricke Highman, who posted a season-best (7.99).
Senior Michael Hall controlled his fate in the mile and will make his third consecutive appearance in the final after a conservative 4:08.51.
While the women pushed 11 through to the finals, they were no less impressive. Ka’Tia Seymour grabbed the top seed in the 60-meter dash (7.25) and Shauna Helps nabbed the eighth spot (7.38). Jayla Kirkland (7.35) qualified as well, but pulled out of the meet with a tender leg.
Seymour will also have a chance to defend her 200-meter title, but will do so as the No. 2 qualifier (23.57), after avoiding a near-fall entering the third turn. That opened the door for redshirt freshman Karimah Davis, who grabbed the top lane position with a personal-best 23.53.
Davis wasn’t done. She lowered her collegiate-best in the 400-meter dash (53.98) to qualify fifth behind junior Janae Caldwell, who backed up her brilliant leg of Friday’s DMR with a monster career-best 53.91 which ranks No. 6 all-time among Noles and is third-fastest in the field.
Cortney Jones will be the Noles’ lone representative in the 60-meter hurdles, qualifying third in 8.18.
FSU’s middle distance group, came through with Jodie Judd (4:44.11) and Maudie Skyring (4:44.36) advancing to the mile final for the second consecutive year. And senior Madison Harris will make her second consecutive 800-meter final, thanks to a disqualification which pushed her 2:10.39 time in as the No. 8 qualifier.
“We just kept battling all day long,” Braman said. “Janae, Nadia and Karimah were warriors for the ladies.”
The numbers told the story: The Seminoles came through with 12 personal-best performances, seven new entries on the all-time indoor top-10 list.
Saturday’s competition begins at 12 p.m. with the first track event – the women’s mile – following at 1 p.m.
You can follow the action throughout the three-day meet via Twitter @FSU_Track and Instagram @fsu_track. Live results can be tracked at https://theacc.co/itf19results. ACC Network Extra will stream Saturday’s competition from 1-5 p.m. https://es.pn/2GPlfSp