Jan. 25, 2014
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Two new school records and a handful of personal-best performances highlighted Florida State's opening night of action at the Cherry & Silver Invitational.
Redshirt junior Briana Cherry-Bronson not only supplied the Seminoles their lone victory of the night at the Albuquerque Convention Center, but she obliterated her own school record in the weight throw with a winning mark of 20.98 meters (68-10).
"It was a huge step," Cherry-Bronson said, after twice out-distancing her old school record of 20.24 meters . "I feel like I can only go up from here. My goal is (qualifying for) Indoor Nationals and I'm talking to my coaches and looking at the rankings and it looks like my goal just might be reached."
With her winning mark, Cherry-Bronson climbed from 11th to fifth in the NCAA Division I rankings, as she continues her pursuit for one of a top-16 mark which would assure a trip to the NCAA Indoor Championships back here in March.
Cherry-Bronson's victory came against a strong group of throwers, which made her even more achievement even more noteworthy. She advanced to the finals - along with teammate Lakitta Johnson - with a career-best mark of 20.44, then ripped off her new record throw with the competition bearing down.
It was a classic case of rising to the occasion, not only for the win, but the first win of any kind since high school.
"It feels really good to win," she said. "I was speechless. I don't know how many times I looked at the clipboard and said, `Did I actually win? Did this actually happen?' Words can't explain how great it feels.
"A year ago I was just nervous throughout the whole (competition). There was no confidence, it was just, `What am I doing?' Now I know what it feels like and once it comes off my hand it's going to be a good throw. It's just more experience. The more experience, the better."
Johnson, who came into the meet with ranked No. 2 in school history, finished fifth with a new personal-best as well (19.44m/63-9.50).
The highlights didn't stop there. Senior James Harris was involved in one of the most compelling competitions of the night when he locked horns with Arizona's Nick Ross in the high jump. The duo came into the meet ranked 1-2 in Division and didn't disappoint, with Harris matching Ross bar-for-bar through 2.27 meters (7-5.25), which broke his own Florida State record.
Ross, the 2012 NCAA Indoor champion, prevailed by clearing 2.31 in what will surely be a prelude to a rematch at the championship meet in six weeks.
Both the men and women advanced two to the finals in the long jump, where sophomore Der'Renae Freeman climbed to a second-place finish on her sixth and final attempt by soaring a career-best 6.24m (20-5.75). Freeman is currently ranked fifth nationally. Maryke Brits placed sixth with a leap of 5.94m (19-6).
Not to be outdone, Paul Madzivire and Jalen Ramsey finished second and third in the men's long jump, separated by only three-quarters of an inch. Madzivire registered a season-best mark of 7.61 meters (24-11.75), while Ramsey - in his first competition since helping the `Noles to the BCS National Championship in football - soared 7.59m (24-11). They depart the meet ranked seventh and eighth nationally. Ramsey's first meet also produced the No. 10 indoor long jump mark in FSU history.
On the women's distance side, juniors Hannah Walker and Pippa Woolven authored a 1-2 finish in the 3000-meter run. Walker pulled away to cross the finish in 9:34.63, which converts to 9:20.48 at sea level and ranks No. 7 nationally and also No. 7 on FSU's all-time list. Woolven finished in 9:40.88 (9:26.58 converted), which ranks as the 11th-best mark in school history.
Junior Markindey Sineus added the final personal-best mark of the night for the `Noles in the men's 35-pound weight throw with the No. 3 throw in school history (18.80m/61-8.25). Grete Sadeiko continued her comeback from knee surgery with a fourth-place finish and a new personal-best in the high jump (1.73m/5-8).
The abundance of records and PRs sent FSU coach Bob Braman away from the first day feeling pretty good.
"I felt like we had as good a day at this time of year as any time ever," Braman said. "The throwers were huge and Der'Renae goes 6.24 on her last jump. James Harris sets a school record in the high jump and the distance girls - Hannah and Pippa - if you convert their times, both set new PRs.
"It was a great first day at the Cherry & Silver and we've got a lot of great opportunities tomorrow."
Senior Dentarius Locke will make his 60-meter dash debut Saturday when the action gets started 12:45 p.m. (ET).