BLACKSBURG, Va. – The Rector Field House was rocking for Thursday night’s distance medley relay and so was the Florida State women’s team of Maudie Skyring, Janae Caldwell, Madison Harris and Militsa Mircheva.
Entering the ACC Indoor Championships as the No. 5 seed in the event, the Noles quartet delivered an on-demand performance, placing second in 11:13.05 behind the host and favorite Hokies (11:08.02). By posting the ninth-fastest time in program history, they provided the perfect tone-setter for the Noles’ title defense.
“They all competed really well,” FSU women’s distance coach Kelly Phillips said. “We were seeded fifth coming in but my mind, the expectation was to be top-three. They all raced really well…It was fun watching how hard they all competed for each other and the crowd was loud in there.”
Buoyed by the raucous crowd, Skyring was fourth at the end of her 1200-meter leg (3:27.22) as she passed the baton to Caldwell for the 400-meter leg.
“The atmosphere was crazy,” said Skyring, who was a member of the Noles’ fifth-place team last season. “The crowd was so loud you couldn’t hear any coaches or any familiar voices…It kept me hyped up.”
Caldwell dropped the fastest split in the field – 53.60 – and moved the Noles into third place as she passed the baton to Harris, who picked up one more spot with her 2:09.06 800-meter split.
Mircheva handled matters from there, powering away from a tight pack of five teams to secure the Seminoles best finish in the event since they won it in 2015, which was also at Blacksburg. Mircheva’s 1600-meter split of 4:43.18 was all it took secure eight big team points.
“It was so much fun,” said Caldwell, on loan from the women’s sprints group. “It was really just a group of girls and just how motivated of all of them were. It was just the mindset of this is the first race; the first event that can put points on the board. All of us just decided to have fun. We weren’t focused on splits or anything…
“It was such an honor, just because I know how good all those girls are. Just for them to ask for me to be a part of that was just amazing.”
The Seminole men were not quite as fortunate, finishing ninth – 3.5 seconds and one position out of scoring – in 10:04.78.
Junior transfer David Lott, sidelined by injury since the opening meet of the indoor season, got the day started for the Noles in the heptathlon. He heads into the final day of competition in ninth place but just one point away from scoring position. The two-time A-SUN Conference heptathlon runner-up closed out his opening day with 2,561 points through four events.
Lott trails Louisville’s Clay Moss (2,562 pts) with the 60 hurdles, pole vault and 1000-meter run to be contested and is 111 points out of seventh place.
The Kennesaw State transfer posted marks of 7.43 in the 60-meter dash, 6.54 meters (21-5.5) in the long jump and 10.78 meters (35-4.5) in the shot put, before closing out his day with a 1.75 meter (5-8.75) high jump clearance. Lott’s best event finish came in the shot put, placing fifth out of 10 contestants.
He will kick off Friday’s qualifying-heavy schedule at 10 a.m.
The Seminoles’ title hopes will begin taking shape on day two as the men and women are involved in the qualifying heats of the mile, 60-meter hurdles, 400-meter dash, 60-meter dash, 800-meter run and 200-meter dash.
Friday’s scoring opportunities will come in the high jump, where 2017 NCAA Outdoor champion Christoff Bryan makes his FSU debut for the men and Kayla Maczuga competes for the women. Grad transfer Rougui Sow, the No. 1 seed, and 2017 ACC indoor champion Jogaile Petrokaite led the women’s long jump, while third-seeded Armani Wallace paces the men.
Senior Brandon Tirado is the No. 4 seed in the men’s weight throw, while junior transfer Nadia Maffo will represent the women in that event.
The qualifying events are especially important for the title hopes of both the men and women. Kasaun James is the No. 1 seed in the 200 and the No. 2 seed in the 60, while Bryand Rincher is the No. 3 seed in both events. The Noles will send six men into the 60-meter dash preliminaries and seven in the 200, including defending champion Andre Ewers, who has been sidelined by injury for the last month.
Sophomore women’s sprinters Ka’Tia Seymour and Jayla Kirkland are the top two seeds in both the 60 and 200, trading top spots, and will be joined by senior Shauna Helps in the 60 and redshirt freshman Karimah Davis in the 200.
Both teams could get a boost with multiple qualifiers in the 400, where DaeQwan Butler, Kyle Fearrington and Calvin Golson lead the men, while Caldwell and Davis pace the women. Likewise, the mile could prove bountiful if Maudie Skyring and Jodie Judd can repeat as finalists for the women and Michael Hall and Istvan Szogi can get through for the men.
ACC Network Extra will stream Friday’s competition from 4-8 p.m. at https://es.pn/2SzvSzH
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.