AZUSA, Calif. – Maximizing outstanding conditions and even better competition, Florida State track & field athletes posted three wins, three new top-10 marks and six personal-best performances between Friday’s Bryan Clay Invitational and Mt. SAC Relays.
Corion Knight won both the long jump and high jump at the Bryan Clay Invitational, edging teammate Kenneth Fisher is a see-saw finals battle. With the two playing to the Azusa Pacific Cougar Stadium crowd, Knight prevailed with a fifth-round leap of 7.85 meters (25-9.25), which was not only an outdoor best but the No. 9 mark in program history.
Knight’s winning long jump came after he narrowly missed a career-best in the high jump, which was being contested simultaneously.
“I was running back-and-forth in the finals to the high jump and actually almost PR’d in the high jump, too,” said Knight. “The back-and-forth made me a little tired, but it woke me up for the 7.85 long jump.”
It also denied Fisher (7.75m/25-5.25) a victory, despite his lifetime, outdoor best. And as it turned out, Knight’s 2.16m (7-1) high jump clearance was good enough for the win as well.
“It’s always good jumping against teammates, pushing each other to go further and do our best,” Fisher said. “We put on a show for the crowd.”
“Zeus is on fire right now,” FSU coach Bob Braman said, referring to Knight by his nickname. “Coach [Keith] Herston really has him in a groove. And Kenneth was really good, as he always is. He’s our most consistent performer on the entire team.”
The Seminole jumpers also produced the third win of the day, as junior Armani Wallace summoned a 16.25-meter (53-3.75) sixth attempt to steal the win. Senior teammate Montel Nevers’ season-best 15.65-meter (51-4.25) was good enough for third place.
“That’s a nice win for Armani,” Braman said. “The big one is right around the corner. Montel made a solid first step back. He’s a two-time All-American when he’s healthy so I’m excited about his upcoming meets.”
About 90 minutes of Los Angeles traffic away, two more Noles were carving out their places in program history with strong performances at the Mt. SAC Relays.
Redshirt junior Michael Hall’s 3000-meter steeplechase debut was a rousing success as he locked down an NCAA postseason qualifying time with the seventh-fastest time in program history (8:55.82).
“My biggest goal was to come out here and have fun, because I knew as a first-time steeplechase it was going to be a learning experience,” Hall said. “I really didn’t have any expectations; come out here, have fun, compete hard and see what I can do.
“I’m happy with it; a little disappointed because I know there’s more work to be done. I checked one box. I was 100 percent on my goal, to come out here and have fun. I did that.”
Hall led early and paid a bit for his exuberance in an event which he finally agreed to try after four years of prodding from Braman.
“I agreed with it because of my athleticism and I wanted to give it a try,” Hall said. “They’ve been trying to get me to steeplechase since my freshman year…Now that I’m fully healthy and able to give it 100-percent, ‘Let’s give it a go.’ I’ve been working with Coach [Terry] Long a lot and that’s really where it came from.”
Both Braman and Long, FSU’s Hall of Fame former head coach who still serves as a volunteer assistant, were excited about Hall’s maiden voyage.
“That’s a really quality debut for Mike Hall,” Braman said. “He’s punched his regional ticket and clearly he can go much faster. It’s a race that you have to learn and he just picked up some valuable lessons.”
Hall seemed to agree.
“I’m always for at least trying things once or twice,” he said. “That was it for this weekend: give it a try, see how things evolve. I see a future for steeplechase. It was fun. I think I can be competitive at it, so we’ll see where it leads to at the end of the season.”
A short time later, junior Militsa Mircheva etched her name amidst some of the Noles greats, shattering her previous best in the 5000-meter run. The Bulgarian star finished in 16:10.96, and like Hall, moved into the No. 7 spot on FSU’s all-time list.
She shattered her previous outdoor collegiate best by 32 seconds and bettered he all-time best, set before she came to the United States, by 16 seconds. Mircheva now owns NCAA postseason qualifying marks in both the 5000 and 10,000 this season.
“Militsa ran really tough, like she always does,” Braman said. “She’ll be sub 16:00 when she gets to her peaking phase.”
Two other Seminoles, sophomore Noah Agwu and freshman Maudie Skyring, also registered new personal-bests in their respective specialties.
Agwu’s recorded his third discus personal-best of the season – he only arrived on campus in January – with a runner-up finish in the college division competition at the Mt. SAC Relays. His top mark in a strong series carried 53.49 meters (175-6).
Back at Azusa Pacific, Skyring struck for a two-second personal-best in the 1500-meter run. Battling against a quality field in an electric environment at the Bryan Clay Invitational, the Australian raced to a second-place finish in her heat in 4:20.82.
The Seminoles will wrap up their California trip on Saturday at the Mt. SAC Relays with the throws group of Austin Droogsma, Shanice Love, Gleneve Grange and Ieva Zarankaite competing in invitational sections of the discus and shot put.
As always you can follow the action via Twitter @FSU_Track.