With strong groups competing at both the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark. and the Husky Classic in Seattle, Wash., the Florida State indoor track & field teams made some noise Friday.
The loudest efforts came from the Dempsey Track on the campus at the University of Washington, where Hannah Walker’s first collegiate 5000-meter race with the Seminoles produced a new school record. Walker paced the loaded invitational field from the start and, despite getting shuffled back in the late stages, recorded a fourth-place finish in 15:58.15.
A transfer from the University of Birmingham in the UK, Walker wiped former Seminole All-American Vicky Gill’s 10-year old mark of 16:00.62 from the record books.
“Hannah was the workhorse for a large field of racers,” FSU women’s distance coach Karen Harvey said. “Someone needed to push the pace and Hannah took it on. The goal was sub-16 and she got a school record, too. The only thing that’s frustrating is that we hope the time holds up as a qualifier for NCAA’s, but you can’t fault her effort either way.”
Only the top 16 times in each event qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships and Walker’s mark stood 11th at the end of the night.
“The first lap was really slow, so then I just took it on and more or less hit the paces I was supposed to, but just had no help,” Walker said. “I’m pleased to go under 16 minutes and get the school record, but I feel I’m definitely capable of going faster in a better race.”
The FSU women’s distance medley relay team almost assuredly posted an NCAA Championship-qualifying mark en route to victory Friday night at the Husky Classic. The team of Linden Hall, Elizabeth Ichite, Georgia Peel and Colleen Quigley smashed the meet record with a winning time of 11:01.59, which ranks as the third-fastest in Seminole history. It currently ranks as the No. 6 mark in Division I this season, with the top 12 relay teams qualifying for the championship meet on time.
“The DMR team worked hard and pushed as hard as they could on a solo effort,” said Harvey, whose team won the race by a whopping 40 seconds. “They are better racers than time trial runners. This is a good problem if the time holds up as an NCAA qualifier. This team has the ability to be much, much better.”
Hall led off the race with a 1200-meter leg in 3:21 and was followed by Ichite’s 53-second 400. Peel ran 2:10 for 800 meters and Quigley capped off the DRM with a 4:36 1600-meter leg.
Bryant Blahnik joined newcomer Glen Yarham in the men’s 5000-meter race and the duo produced the eighth and ninth best times on FSU’s top 10 indoor list, finishing in 14:18.45 and 14:23.83, respectively, to finish 16th and 17th.
At the Tyson Invitational, the Seminoles scored some impressive performances against stout competition.
Dentarius Locke ran 6.61 in the 60-meter finals to play second to Houston’s Cameron Burrell, stringing together a pair of solid qualifying round (6.63 and 6.70). On the women’s side, senior Marecia Pemberton posted her fastest time since 2012 in the 60-meter finals (7.36), to place third. Pemberton’s three race series included marks of 7.39 and 7.40 in the preliminary rounds.
The lone victory by the Seminoles on the opening day of the Tyson Invitational was produced by junior Briana Cherry-Bronson, who claimed the weight throw with a mark of 20.85m (68-5). Teammate Lakitta Johnson (18.98) was eighth.
In the men’s and women’s championship division of the long jump, sophomore Der’Renae Freeman placed fourth by soaring 6.12 meters (20-1). Freshman Jalen Ramsey was seventh on the men’s side with a six-jump best mark of 7.52 meters (24-8.25).
Sophomore Otniel Teixeira competed in the championship section of the 800-meter and delivered his all-time best of 1:50.52 to place sixth overall with his heat victory. It was the fifth-fastest indoor time in Florida State history.
“Otniel led start-to-finish in the second heat of the championship 800,” FSU head coach Bob Braman said. “That’s a pretty good win for him and an all-conditions PR.”
Among other noteworthy performances, senior Alonzo Russell placed fifth in the 400-meter dash (46.57) and was just .02 off his lifetime best mark. Karly Jackson earned a share of the college division pole vault title clearing 3.90 meters (12-9.50).
Overall, the Seminoles competing at the Randal Tyson Track Complex failed to improve on their national standings, but Saturday will provide another set of opportunities. The men’s 4x400 relay will be one of the spotlight events for the ‘Noles, along with Chelsea Whalen and Kellion Knibb in the shot put, and James Harris in the high jump.
“Conference wise we keep moving forward,” said Braman. “Nationally, it keeps getting harder and harder.”