Jan. 28, 2012
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Undeterred in the face of stiff competition, the Florida State men's and women's indoor track & field teams more than held their own as the two-day Razorback Invitational drew to a close Saturday at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
Senior Michelle Jenije provided the lone victory, but there is ample reason for optimism moving forward after the Seminoles registered 17 individual personal bests.
"For January, particularly, we had a really good performance," FSU coach Bob Braman said. "What I gauge the kids on is how hard they compete and what they're able to do this time of year, and they did that [well]."
With nine nationally ranked men's team and eight ranked women's teams in the 12-team meet, the Seminoles were surely tested. And while FSU did not post a single NCAA automatic qualifying mark, a handful of athletes turned in performances that should stand up when the top 16 performers in each event are selected for the national championship meet.
Jenije posted her second triple jump victory of the season Saturday, winning with a best effort of 13.15m (43-1.75), which ranks third nationally.
Milers Amanda Winslow and Hannah Brooks should both be well-positioned to reach the NCAA Indoor Championship meet after finishing second and third in 4:37.30 and 4:37.87, respectively, while freshman Aubree Worden was fifth in 4:43.46.
Amy Harris, who was the runner-up in the long jump on Friday, should also be well-positioned to land an NCAA berth on the strength of her 6.36m (20-10.50) performance.
"I like these elite meets," Braman said. "They give the kids a chance to step up. We got some good things done."
Among the most encouraging performances Saturday were, Phillip Young's runner-up finish in the triple jump with a personal-best 15.87m (52-1.75), and Darrin Gibson's major breakthrough in the 800 meters, where he posted an indoor career best of 1:48.78 to finish third.
Whether the fourth-ranked FSU men can improve on those individual performances, and others, will go a long way toward determining whether they will be able to contend for an indoor national title. Host Arkansas entered the meet ranked No. 1 on the men's side, and did nothing to change Braman's impression of them.
"Arkansas is going to solidify that No. 1," Braman said. "They're beast-like. It kind of gives you a little wake-up. Where do we need to go? There were some really good teams we competed with and it gives us six weeks before nationals to see where we can go."
Junior David Forrester made his season debut in the 3,000 meters (8:02.49) against a loaded field, which left him in 10th place. On the women's side, freshman Colleen Quigley continued to set a high standard for early success, racing to a fifth-place finish in the 3,000 (9:18.68). Teammates Kayleigh Tyerman (9:33.10) and Jennifer Dunn (9:44.90) also established season bests.
Violah Lagat finished fifth in the 800 (2:08.41)
The FSU men grabbed a pair of top-five finishes in the 60-meter dash, with Paul Madzivire (6.78) placing third in a career-best time, followed by Hortatio Williams (6.81) in sixth.
"It was a good meet," Braman said. "I think it really served its purpose from an encouragement standpoint and from a reality check."
The Seminoles will continue their march toward the postseason next week at the Spire Classic in Cleveland, Ohio, which is expected to mark the season debut of All-American sprinter Maurice Mitchell and women's sprint standout Marecia Pemberton.
Florida State Indoor Track & Field Razorback Invitational Performances