TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Every day – or in this case, four days – is a good one when the nationally-ranked Florida State men’s and women’s track & field team can improve through competition and put on a good show.
That’s precisely why FSU coach Bob Braman came away from Saturday’s conclusion of the 33rd FSU Relays with a wide smile.
With a captive – and participating – audience of approximately 2,000 high school track athletes from throughout Florida and the Southeast, the Seminoles got quite a bit done on a variety of fronts.
“It was our biggest and best high school meet ever,” Braman said, as the crowd slipped away from Mike Long Track early Saturday evening. “There’s no question. The quality is there. There were a couple thousand kids here who got a chance to come to our track, our facility, had great performances for them, which reflects on them and how we ran the meet.
“That’s a big chip as we go forward. They loved Florida State, or at least they feel that way, because they had a great experience and time here. To me, that big picture is huge.”
While the Seminoles did not pile up a landslide of victories, there were quite a few personal-best performances turned in by athletes who figure to be a part of their ACC Championship roster late next month in Charlottesville, Va.
Junior Marecia Pemberton provided the lone win of the day for the ‘Noles, or at least shared it, when she led a 1-2-3 sweep by FSU runners in the 100-meter dash. Pemberton’s time of 11.76 stood for only a few minutes as former Seminole great Kimberly Williams won the second heat, matching her 11.76 time.
The 25th-ranked FSU women also earned a runner-up finish from sophomore Chelsea Whalen, who came out firing in the shot put, with an all-time best toss of 15.47m (50-9.25) on her first throw of the day. Whalen moved into sixth-place on the Seminoles’ all-time list among shot putters by eclipsing her previous best outdoor mark by well over two feet.
Sophomore Marsha Ariol also turned in a career-best time in the 400-meter hurdles (1:00.8); good for a third-place finish. Freshman Jande Pierce was third in the 200-meter dash (24.49).
Equally impressive was the women’s 4x400-meter relay team of Sarah Chandler, Ariol, Smith and Alejandra Martinez – all freshmen and sophomore walk-ons – who brought the stick around in 3:47.36 to finish fourth
FSU’s second-ranked men’s team earned a pair of encouraging, runner-up event finishes as freshman Rachmil von Lamoen’s 21.25 win in the second heat beat everyone in the 200-meter dash field except Dentarius Locke (20.94), an FSU student running unattached. Stephen Newbold, another Seminole freshman, was fifth in 21.36.
Despite being a couple line-up changes, the ‘Noles turned in a rock-solid debut in the 4x400-meter relay as Maurice Mitchell, Ronald Bolden, Horatio Williams and Phillip Young, brought the stick around the track in 3:08.90. Unfortunately, they couldn’t quite overcome a select group of elite former of current FSU students. Brandon O’Connor, Brandon Byram, Dentarius Locke and Charles Clark – who have multiple All-American honors between them – held on for the win in 3:07.8.
Andrew LaHaye was third in the pole vault (5.15m/16-10.75) as Seminoles grabbed four of the top seven spots. Drew Marcello was fifth with a career-best of 5.00m (16-4.75), followed by Gonzalo Barroilhet (5.00) and John Kennedy (4.70m/15-5).
Barroilhet, tuning up for the decathlon later this season, also logged a career-best throw of 45.55m (149-5) to finish ninth.
“In terms of our program, we’re at the early end of the season,” Braman said. “We got some things done. The field events seemed to be a little ahead of the track events, which is typical. I think the 4x400 was great today. The 4x100 [on Friday] - if we just make the handoff - we probably run a nation-leading time.”
“Phillip Young PR’d in the long jump. I thought we were pretty good all-around in a lot of things.”
FSU will now ratchet up its preparation for a few meets away from the confines of Mike Long Track. Women’s distance coach Karen Harvey expects to launch a portion of her squad next week at UNF. Braman’s men’s distance squad will head to Stanford in two weeks, while Director of Sprints, Hurdles and Relays Ken Harnden will take a strong group to Florida Relays on the same weekend.
“Two weeks from now, No. 2 Florida State and No. 1 Florida, will be head-to-head in those events they go head-to-head in – sprints, jumps and relays,” Braman said. “I think this was a good get-ready for what’s yet to come. You don’t just show and turn in world class performances. It’s part of the process and we got a start. I’m pleased with that.”