Blacksburg, VA - Florida State’s stars shined on the final day of the Atlantic Coast Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships, with the men and women combining for three wins, including a championship meet record for senior Amanda Winslow in the 3000-meter run.
Sophomore Stephen Newbold and junior Phillip Young were named MVP’s for the track and field events, respectively, while a dozen Seminoles – eight men and four women – earned All-ACC honors.
By nearly every measure it was an outstanding day, which made a pair of team runner-up finishes only a bit more palatable.
The Seminole men began Saturday trailing host Virginia Tech by 22 points, fell behind by as many as 46 early in the day, then rallied to within three points with two events remaining. The Hokies, however, sealed the win by outscoring FSU 16-8 in the 3000-meter finals, despite a courageous runner-up finish by Jakub Zivec.
“I thought we had a whale of a meet,” FSU head coach Bob Braman said. “We had the momentum, we were going forward, then a couple of little things happened. We had an OK (men’s) 400, but not quite what we were hoping for. The pole vault had flipped our way, then in one jump it was a four-point swing. … It all happened quickly – the pole vault, the 400 and the 800. …
“We needed to get them all; all that we really could. In the end we didn’t get them all. I’m not sure we didn’t have as good a meet as we had last year when we won. The point total says we did.”
Virginia Tech prevailed on the men’s side, 153-136.
The Florida State women entered the meet as heavy underdogs to three-time defending champion Clemson, and the fourth-ranked Tigers made it four in a row by a 141.5-100 final margin over the ‘Noles. It marks the sixth consecutive season the FSU women have finished in the top-two at the end of the final day.
Women’s distance coach Karen Harvey’s charges contributed 46 points to the cause, including 28 in the 3000-meter final on Saturday, which Winslow won in an ACC Championship meet record of 9:08.13. Colleen Quigley and Jessica Parry followed Winslow across the line in a 1-2-3 sweep and Kayleigh Tyerman added a fifth-place finish to the point haul, which locked up the runner-up finish.
“Amanda loves running for her team,” said Harvey, whose senior star continues to cement her standing as one of the best distance runners in school history. “She loves Florida State and loves going out there and getting points for FSU and it shows every time she goes to conference. …
“We came in with a lot of goals with the distance group and I honestly don’t know how much more we could have squeezed out of those six girls. Almost everybody met all the goals they came in with. That’s just incredible. I’m very proud of them and really excited about outdoors and trying to get even more points.”
The Seminole men were once again led by a dominant sprint contingent, paced by freshman Marvin Bracy, junior transfer Dentarius Locke and Newbold, a sophomore, who made the leap from ACC Indoor Rookie of the Year to the MVP on the track in his second season.
Over the course of the three-day meet, where the seeding of athletes seldom held up, Bracy and Locke held up true to form with their 1-2 finish in the 60-meter finals. Bracy won in 6.57, with Locke (6.58) attached at the hip as they crossed the finish line well ahead of the field. Teammate David Ambler was eighth, providing the ‘Noles with 19 points as they began to chip away at the Hokies.
Newbold began his day by finishing second in the 400-meter dash finals (47.16), despite winning the first of two final heats. Perhaps motivated by the runner-up spot, the Bahamas native left no doubt in the 200-meter final, winning with an indoor personal best of 20.90 which likely secured a spot in the NCAA Championship field. Locke was second in 21.02, which has him on the cusp of a 200 NCAA berth as well.
Tremaine Grant came through with one of several surprise performances in the 60-meter hurdles. Seeded eighth entering the finals, Grant nabbed fourth place in an indoor-best mark of 7.95.
In all, the Seminole men earned 55 points from the sprint group covering the 60, 60 hurdles, 200 and 400.
“I liked the highlights, because the highlights help you in two weeks (at the NCAA Championship),” Braman said. “We have some opportunities going forward.”
The Seminole men also received a lift in the field events. Young finished second in the triple jump Saturday, while Owen Cain nailed down fourth place with his best effort of the year. Andrew LaHaye was the runner-up in the pole vault and Drew Marcello finished eighth to contribute to the cause. Stargell Williams and Jeff Pelage tag-teamed for four points, finishing sixth and eighth in the shot put.
Zivec very nearly pulled off a monster upset when he mounted a late kick on Virginia Tech All-American Will Mulherin in the 3000-meter finals. After running in the top four throughout the entire race, the junior launched a mammoth charge that came up just .22 of the win in 8:04.61.
While Winslow and the women’s distance crew provided the lone win Saturday, a number of ‘Noles came through with big days. Junior Chelsea Whalen registered a personal-best in the shot put (15.75 meters) to secure a third-place finish and junior classmate Anne Zagre broke up Clemson’s podium domination in the 60-meter hurdles with a season-best 8.21 in the finals that puts her on the cusp of an NCAA qualifying mark.
Marecia Pemberton was fourth in the 60-meter dash in a season-best 7.37 – Zagre was fifth – while Elizabeth Ichite was fourth in the 400-meter final (54.61). Sage Watson was denied a shot at podium when she got tangled with a Clemson runner rounding the final turn and went sprawling into the infield. Watson got up and still managed to finish sixth in a 59.24.
FSU’s women closed out the scoring with a runner-up finish in the 4x400 relay as anchor Marsha Ariol – who was joined by Ichite, Sarah Chandler and Watson - held off a late charge by Miami at the finish to cross the line in a season-best 3:40.07.
“We’re starting to get those scrappy points,” Braman said. “The women reached 100 points. They haven’t done that since they won the won triple crown in 2009.”