Tallahassee - Florida State senior Marecia Pemberton’s collegiate-leading 100-meter dash victory highlighted Saturday’s 35th FSU Relays finale at Mike Long Track.
The Seminoles won seven events on the final day of the meet – 13 in all over two days – in what amounted to their outdoor season-opening event.
A redshirt senior, Pemberton won in 11.48, which is not only the fastest time thus far among NCAA Division I sprinters, but her fastest performance since 2011. She had plenty of motivation to perform well in her outdoor debut, after missing out on an NCAA Indoor Championships berth in the 60-meter dash by .02 seconds.
“I was really mad about not making NCAA for the 60, for like a week-and-half or two weeks,” Pemberton said. “But I told myself, I grew up running outdoors. I grew up with the 100, not the 60. … I knew with the energy and anger inside of me, I was going to do better in the 100.”
She did not disappoint, turning back a field of 27 for the win.
“When I crossed the line I thought I heard them say 11.38, so I was more excited,” she added. “Last year I opened up with 11.8 and the year before I opened up with 11.8 and I ended up with 11.6. I have to be thankful. I’m only going to get better.
“The thing is I know what I did wrong. Something went wrong with my start. It wasn’t as crisp as it usually is in practice, and I fought all the way after 50 meters, which coach Ken (Harnden) is trying to get out of me. Once I relax and just roll through the line, the time is going to come down.”
FSU coach Bob Braman didn’t hesitate when it came to identifying Pemberton while discussing the meet highlights for the Seminoles.
“I thought Pemberton was huge,” Braman said. “That’s a great opener and has potential for national implications. If she takes off a tenth of a second a month, you’re looking at 11.20-something, which is certainly a scoring type time. … That is my mind is the highlight of the whole meet; that and the women’s 4x100.”
Pemberton was also a member of that winning relay team on Friday, which also posted a nation-leading time of 44.29.
FSU did most of its damage over the two-day meet in the field events and Saturday was no different. Freshman Chadrick DaCosta was the Seminoles lone double-winner, opening the final day of the meet with a victory in the men’s discus (50.16m/164-7), then capping the day competition with a shot put triumph (16.84m/55-3).
Another Seminole freshman, Cayman Ellis, claimed his first collegiate pole vault victory with a clearance of 4.80 meters (15-9).
Chelsea Whalen opened her senior season with an FSU Relays title in the women’s shot put (15.80m/51-10). Fellow senior Marsha Ariol scored the first individual victory of her career in the 400-meter hurdles (1:00.75).
Redshirt freshman Jake Burton rounded out the Florida State victories, claiming the 800-meter run in 1:51.05.
“Overall I thought we had a good meet,” Braman said. “The two meets coming up are big and I think we set the table well.”
Neither Braman nor anyone else involved with the meet could have been disappointed with the outstanding weather and superior performances turned in on the high school side. One day after three high school meet records fell, five others went by the boards on the final day of competition, including the 1600, boys discus, girls pole vault, girls triple jump and girls 4x400 relay.
Though he did not set a meet mark, FSU signee and Stanton High senior did claim his second consecutive FSU Relays 100-meter title.
“The high school meet was spectacular today,” Braman said. “The high school meet continues to get better and better, and bigger and bigger.”