Three Wins On ACC Moving Day Have Noles In Contention
ATLANTA, Ga. – It was moving day at Georgia Tech for the Florida State men and women at the ACC Outdoor Track & Field Championships and the Seminoles did some heavy hauling, climbing into third place entering Sunday's finals.
Riding victories from Eleonora Omoregie in the high jump and Melissa-Maree Farrington in the heptathlon, the 14th-ranked Seminole women amassed 46.5 points Saturday and with 56.5 total points trail only Virginia Tech (58.5) and Duke (57.5) in their quest for a successful ACC title defense.
Triple jump standout Armani Wallace collected his first ACC title – in the long jump – and teamed with Keniel Grant and Carlos Becker for 11 of the men's 30 points on a day marred by a nearly three-hour weather delay. The Seminoles are tied for third with Virginia Tech (34 points), trailing 11th-ranked Virginia (80) and Duke (39).
In addition to the victories, Gleneve Grange grabbed silver in the shot put with a school record-shattering throw of 17.29 meters (56-8.75) and teammate Kellion Knibb was seventh with a lifetime-best 15.56m (51-0.75).
“GG was one of the highlights of the day,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “That's No. 10 in the NCAA and a huge lifetime-best; just the spark we needed going into the final day.”
Jogaile Petrokaite claimed her second consecutive silver outdoors in the long jump (6.17m/20-3), though she came into the event with just the fourth-best legal mark in the field.
“She got us big points with silver today and that was really big for us,” Braman said.
Dante Newberg capped his breakout weekend in the decathlon with a fourth-place finish, riding five personal-best event performance to the fifth-best total – 7, 113 points – in Florida State history.
There were plenty of back stories behind the three winners, who combined to push Director of Field Events Dennis Nobles' ACC outdoor gold medalists to 62.
Omoregie, a freshman, capped her season sweep of ACC indoor and outdoor titles by clearing 1.82 meters (5-11.5), but redshirt freshmen Kayla Maczuga's personal-best 1.70m (5-7) clearance for fourth and Safia Morgan's share of fifth (1.67/5-5.75) gave the Noles a whopping 18.5 points in the event.
Despite out-dueling UNC's Nicole Greene, Omoregie wasn't pleased with her winning height, but she was excited to add her name alongside ACC champion teammates Veronika Kanuchova and Farrington; even more so that Maczuga and Morgan were contributing in a big way as well.
“Seeing Veronika and Melissa win, I wanted to win, too,” Omoregie said. “Even though I didn't jump what I wanted, the important part was winning and I won. I'm so happy for Kayla because I work with her every day and she works so hard. Safia had great jumps today and I think now she can just keep going an everything will be fine.”
Maczuga, who along with Morgan were wild-card entries into the meet, may turn out to be one of the unsung heroes of the meet if the Noles can finish off their third title in four years.
“I knew I could do it and it just had to come, and it came at the perfect moment,” said the normally stoic Maczuga, flashing a wide smile. “I'm just so happy I finally got it. I'm glad we could do it for the team”
The day began with Farrington completing her wire-to-wire run to the heptathlon title, capped by a strong finish in the 800 for a seven-event total of 5,735 points; nailing down the eighth-best mark in the nation and a certain trip to the NCAA Championships.
“Having my parents here, that was the biggest mental support I could possibly have,” said Farrington, whose parents made the trip from their native Australia for the meet. “And Coach [Dennis] Nobles, he was in my ear every event, having trust and faith in me. I had a big team around me to keep me calm.”
With only a handful of fans on hand, Wallace rose to the occasion in the men's long jump as his teammates battled leg cramps, winning with a leap of 7.55 meters (24-9.25). Grant (7.28) and Becker (7.18) finished sixth and eighth.
“That was my biggest motivation today,” Wallace said, understanding that the Noles' team title hopes needed a lift. “I took it upon myself and told myself that I had to come out here and win. I had to do it for my team. It was no longer about me. I just had to score for my team and that's what I did.”
“A couple weeks ago he had a big PB and it kind of shocked us, and we're like, ‘OK, this is a guy who can get us some significant points at the ACC meet,'” Braman said. “I didn't know ‘significant points' meant winning the event…It was a great competition for him 1-6. Keniel and Carlos went calf cramping and fought their way through. We ended up with 14 big points entirely different than we had envisioned it.
“At the end of the night it gave us nice, positive point boost going into tomorrow.”
The Seminoles were quite productive in qualifying as well, especially on the women's side.
Cortney Jones (13.23) and Peta-Gay Williams (13.32) advanced to Sunday's 100-meter hurdle finals as the Nos. 3-4 qualifiers. Defending ACC 100-meter dash champion Shauna Helps left no doubt that she has sights set on a repeat, laying down a lifetime-best 11.39; the second-fastest time from the prelims. Helps previously qualified for Sunday's 200 final.
“Shauna wanted to make a statement in that prelim and man, did she,” Braman said. “It's extremely rare to get a lifetime best in the prelims, so I couldn't be more pleased.”
Shaquania Dorsett will make her outdoor 400-meter final debut after posting a solid 53.39 in Saturday's prelims.
On the men's side, senior Jake Burton advanced to the seventh ACC 800-meter final of his career as the third-fastest qualifier, posting a season-best 1:49.07.
“Jake Burton ran like a veteran,” Braman said. “He was up against the fifth-best 800 runner in the country and held his own. Maybe we'll get a little magic in the finals.”
Freshman Kyle Fearrington ran the second-fastest 400-meter prelim (47.33) and will be joined by Kenny Lane (47.69) in the final. Edward Clarke, the 2016 silver medalist in the 100, secured his spot to move up by winning his heat in 10.58.
The Noles will lean on the productivity of those qualifiers – along with James Rhoden (400 hurdles) – to continue their ascent up the standings on the final day of competition at the George C. Griffin Track & Field Facility.
In addition to the aforementioned events, the Seminole women are looking for huge production in the discus, where Knibb will chase her fourth ACC title as the top seed, followed by Grange and Shanice Love, who are seeded second and fourth. They also hope to cash in on a beefed-up 4x100 relay team and contributions from a trio of 5000-meter runners, led by Carmela Cardama Baez.
The Seminole men are also deep in the discus, led by the Onyia, who should get scoring help from Droogsma and DaCosta. Ed'Ricus Williams is the top seed in the high jump, while Wallace and Montel Nevers should lead a potentially high-scoring triple jump trio.
Michael Hall owns the fourth-best time of the year among the 12-man, 1500-meter final that is weighted heavily with five Virginia Tech qualifiers.
FSU's 4x100 relay men will be looking for some redemption and the 4x400 quartet enters its final as the No. 3 seed with a chance to move up.
The first events are set for 2 p.m. and Sunday's live ACC Network Extra/WatchESPN coverage begins at 5 p.m. http://es.pn/2ooHVMW
Live results for all events can be found at http://flashresults.com/2017_Meets/Outdoor/05-12_ACC/
You can follow along throughout the competition via Twitter @FSU_Track and check back for video and written recaps at Seminoles.com, and daily photo galleries on our official facebook account at https://www.facebook.com/FSUTrack/?nr#