EUGENE, Ore. – Dentarius Locke and James Harris combined for 16.5 points Friday, propelling the Florida State men’s track & field team into fourth place entering Saturday’s finale at the NCAA Outdoor Championship meet.
Finishing second in the 100-meter finals, Locke’s wind-aided 9.91 seconds was just a lean shy of TCU’s Charles Silmon (9.89) in one of the swiftest full-field finals in recent years.
Harris’ two-event performance was nothing less than amazing. Within minutes of finishing in a tie for fourth in the high jump (2.24m/7-4.25), the junior summoned up a fifth-place finish in the 400-meter finals in 45.56.
With 21.5 points, the Seminole men enter the final day trailing co-leaders USC and Texas (32 points) and Arkansas (30.5), with Texas A&M (21), UCLA and Oregon (18) and LSU (17) in close pursuit.
FSU’s goal of claiming an eighth podium finish in nine years – placing among the top four teams – will rest on the scoring production of the men’s 4x100 relay and freshman javelin thrower Morne Moolman at historic Hayward Field.
“We’ve got a chance at a trophy and that’s always the goal coming here,” Florida State coach Bob Braman. “I’m not sure I would have put odds on us do that coming in here.”
Braman’s Florida State women’s team has yet to register a point, but that should change Saturday.
Senior Amanda Winslow and sophomore Linden Hall will try and extend the Seminoles’ streak of seven consecutive years with a scorer in the 1500-meter final. Sophomore Colleen Quigley enters the steeplechase final with the nation’s second-fastest time this year, while junior Chelsea Whalen will try and put an exclamation point on her record-setting season in the shot put.
“The entire women’s team score comes from our four athletes,” Braman said. “They are going to write their own script in about a two-hour period and hopefully deliver a top 20 or top 15 finish.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
As work days go, Friday was quite productive.
With Harris already competing in the early stages of the high jump, Locke climbed into the blocks for his first 100-meter final. After posting the fastest legal time by a collegian in Wednesday’s semifinal (9.97), Locke was ready to measure himself against Silmon, who ran a wind-aided 9.92.
“I felt pretty good,” Locke said, recounting the race. “Everything went as planned. I got out like I was supposed to. I stayed patient throughout my drive phase. When I came up he [Silmon] was in striking distance. I believe I actually pulled even with him. Getting to the tape, he leaned just a little bit before me and that gave him the win.”
“That was fantastic,” Braman said. “In the first 100-meter final of his career, with the collegiate best legal time, he had a big bulls-eye on him and ran an incredible race under a lot of pressure.
“I’m sure Locke running that well will inspire us tomorrow and obviously it inspired James Harris.”
Watching from the high jump pad, where he had already put himself in scoring position, Harris saluted Locke then proceeded to clear 2.24 meters on his third and final attempt. He bowed out after three solid attempts at 2.28 meters (7-5.75).
Still, his work was far from over, with the 400 final looming.
“It was tough but I believe that’s what made me do so good in both events,” Harris said. “The whole time I was high jumping I was thinking about the 400. When I got over the 7-4 bar I was like, ‘I’m here for a reason so I might as well keep hacking it out in the high jump.’ When I got to the 400, I said, ‘I might as well just leave it all on the track.’ I gave it all I had. It’s my first time finding myself in the finals, so I was happy.”
With little in reserve after the high jump, Harris fought through the final curve, picking off one runner to place fifth.
“That’s one of the most incredible things I’ve seen in collegiate track and field,” Braman said of Harris’ double. “The 400 is already a brutal event at this level in this country. Then he gets three good looks at 7-6 after three hours out there in 80 degree sun and walks over to the 400 and turns in an incredibly respectable time.”
Harris, a transfer from Mississippi State, was hardly disappointed.
“Last year I didn’t make nationals in any of my individual events,” he said. “Now I find myself a two-time All-American in individual events in a matter of 30 minutes. It feels real good.”
Friday’s scoring combo of Locke and Harris aren’t through. They will kick things off Saturday at Hayward Field as members of FSU’s fifth-seeded 4x100 relay.
“We’re going to drop the chop in the 4x1 tomorrow.”
You can follow the Seminoles in action live via Twitter @FSU_Track and get complete daily recaps at www.seminoles.com.
Additionally, you can follow the action live in a variety of ways:
Live Results: http://www.flashresults.com/2013_Meets/outdoor/06-05-NCAA/live/
Broadcast Schedule: http://www.ustfccca.org/infozone/broadcast-schedule.php
Watch ESPN: http://espn.go.com/watchespn/index