Bob Thomas

Wallace, Discus & Sprint Relays Finish Strong

Seminoles.com | April 08, 2017

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.Armani Wallace refused to allow Florida State’s strong throws group steal the show on the final day of the 50th Tennessee Relays.

The sophomore triple jumper from Orlando, Fla. put together his strongest series since the 2016 ACC Outdoor Championships, capped by his winning leap of 16.10 meters (52-10), which ranks fourth in the nation. Wallace’s mark was just two centimeters off his personal-best, and secured Saturday’s second victory and fourth of the three-day meet by FSU athletes.

“We really bounced back today,” FSU coach Bob Braman said, after watching the Noles struggle to put together big performances on Friday. “We got the travel problems and cold weather out of our system and really competed well.

“Armani was spectacular. From his first jump you could see that he was going to have a good day.”

The Seminoles’ day actually began quite well. Well, not exactly.

With FSU’s deep stable of women’s discus throwers leading off Saturday’s competition, the Noles were anticipating a strong start. Yet, through two rounds of throws, Kellion Knibb, Gleneve Grange and Shanice Love had yet to post a legal mark.

Facing some pressure, the freshman Love showed the way in the third round with a collegiate-best mark of 50.70 meters (166-4), with Grange (53.74m/176-4) and Knibb (57.25/187-10) following suit. All three advanced to finals, where only Knibb – ranked No. 1 in the country – was able to improve (57.44/188-5).

Still, it was good enough for a 1-2-5 showing by the Noles at the conclusion of the event, and more importantly, a valuable lesson by persevering under duress.

Senior Emmanuel Onyia once again rode a consistently strong series to a third-place finish on the strength of his top throw of 56.57m (185-7). Grad transfer Ed’Ricus Williams was unable to find his rhythm late in the high jump competition, but did rebound from a poor showing at the Florida Relays to finish fourth (2.09m/6-9.5).

“We had really good focus today,” Braman said. “We can get on the bus with a little momentum now.”

Saturday’s action on Tom Black Track was reserved for relay events and the Seminoles tapped into all kinds of resources to make the most of their opportunities.

Both the women’s and men’s 4x100 relay teams posted what should be NCAA East Preliminary qualifying marks, despite some patchwork lineups which still managed to deliver third-place finishes.

The women’s team of Nia Flagg, Shauna Helps, Cortney Jones and Shaquania Dorsett got the stick around the track in a season-best time of 45.20, which currently ties FSU for No. 14 in the NCAA East rankings.

The men’s team of Jamal Pitts, Edward Clarke, Raheem Robinson and Keniel Grant brought the baton home in 40.16, posting their first mark of the season, which ranks 14th in the NCAA East.

“We ran different personnel than usual and I think we ran pretty well,” Braman said.

Earlier in the day, the women’s 4x200 relay team of Nicole Setterington, Alina Stewart, Janae Caldwell and Kimmie Cunningham finished third as well (1:40.99).

Like the 4x200, the 4x800 relay is not contested at the NCAA Championships level, though it did not prevent the women and men from getting in some quality work. The women’s quartet of Ginelle DeMone, Madison Harris, Emily Edward and Dorsett – anchoring her second consecutive event on the schedule – raced home in 8:49.63 for third.

The FSU men’s team of Michael Hall, Matt Magee, Matt Butler and Jaap Vellinga dropped a very respectable time of 7:27.87 to finish second behind a loaded Virginia Tech squad.

“Our 4x800 teams competed their tails off and many of them had relay carries in their PR zone,” Braman said. “I thought Mike Hall really ran well. He ran a lifetime best and was unafraid to mix it up with the 800 specialists. Their 7:27 is a quality time, especially without our ace [Jake Burton] in there.”

The Noles closed out the meet with the 4x400 women finishing eighth and the men tying for fifth.

Florida State will take a break from competition, returning April 21-22 at Stanford University’s Cardinal Classic.

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