April 19, 2013
RALEIGH, N.C. - With his teammates cheering wildly from the railing at the Paul H. Derr Track, Florida State freshman Zak Seddon put the exclamation point on a dynamic second-day performance by the Seminoles at the ACC Outdoor Championships meet on Friday.
Seddon sped past Clemson's Ty McCormack down the backstretch on the final lap and raced to victory in the 3000-meter steeplechase. Spurred on by his teammates, the Great Britain native won in 8:47.40, a full three seconds in front of McCormack, who led all but the final 250 meters.
The victory pulled the FSU men within two points of the team lead entering Saturday's finals. North Carolina leads with 59 points, followed by the `Noles (57), with defending champion Virginia Tech and Duke tied for third with 33.
Colleen Quigley had a decidedly different approach to her victory in the 3000-meter steeplechase. The sophomore led from the starting gun and ran away from the field in a career-best time of 10:01.95 to deliver the `Noles 10 more points and the team lead entering the final day of the meet.
The FSU women have 59 points, four more than second place NC State. North Carolina and Duke are tied for third with 36, while three-time defending champion Clemson is fifth with 29 points.
"We achieved everything that we wanted and the bonus was the PR's, the collegiate-bests, and the national and regional qualifying things that we did," Florida State coach Bob Braman said. "It's exciting, both in what's happening at the championship, but even the residual benefit of what's happening down the road.
"Friday is moving day and you've got to get yourself in position [to win] or you just set yourself up in too tough a position for tomorrow. We didn't do that. We did a great job of qualifying."
Of the seven finals contested Friday - four for the men and three for the women - Florida State athletes scored four victories, including the two steeplechase wins. More impressively, the Seminoles piled up the points in style, setting one meet record and getting collegiate best marks from seven athletes in all.
There was a palpable momentum permeating both the men's and women's teams.
"I really felt that it is catching on from men to women and event to event," Braman said. "That's exciting."
Sophomore Stefan Brits endured four fouls in six long jump attempts, but his fifth leap of the day produced a mammoth winning mark of 8.05 meters (26-5), which broke a 16-year old ACC Championship meet mark. It also moved Brits into a share of the No. 2 spot on FSU's all-time list.
Junior Chelsea Whalen continued her amazing outdoor season in the shot put, claiming the ACC title with an opening throw of 16.33 meters (53-7), which improved her own school record set just last week at home. Whalen received plenty help from her teammates as sophomore Lakitta Johnson used a career-best throw of 14.99m (49-2.25) to claim sixth. Freshman Kellion Knibb was seventh as the trio combined for 15 points.
There were impressive performance s by Seminoles in events they didn't win. Junior transfer Stargell Williams unleashed a lifetime best shot put throw of 17.90m (58-8.75) to claim a second-place finish and the No. 9 mark in FSU history. Freshman Morne Moolman was the runner-up in the javelin (70.61m/231-8) and redshirt freshman Garrett Singletary claimed an eighth-place finish to provide the FSU men with nine points in the event.
On the women's side, freshmen Der'Renae Freeman (6.17m/20-3) and Maryke Brits (6.13/20-1.50), placed fifth and sixth, respectively, to contribute seven points to the title chase cause. Neither were seeded to score in the meet.
Freeman's leap also moved her into the No. 9 spot on the FSU career list.
"The impressive thing is that the first-timers have just had extraordinary performances," Braman said. "They haven't just handled the pressure, they've excelled under it, which is rare."
Beyond Friday's contested finals, the `Noles also held up well through the qualifying rounds, setting the stage for a potentially big final day.
Dentarius Locke posted the fastest time in the 100-meter qualifying, racing across the finish in a lifetime-best time of 10.08 seconds, which ranks No. 6 in FSU's illustrious sprint history. Senior David Ambler also advanced to the finals in a season-best mark of 10.52.
Junior Marecia Pemberton and first-year transfer Anne Zagre will compete in the women's 100 finals after racing home with season-best marks of 10.51 and 10.52 - the third and fourth-fastest of the day - from the same preliminary heat. Earlier in the day, Zagre advanced to the finals of the 100-meter hurdles in a season-best time of 13.12. She will be joined by Brits, who qualified on time in a career-best mark of 14.04.
Junior transfers James Harris (46.33) and Alonzo Russell (47.41) will represent the Seminoles in the finals of the 400-meter dash, as will Elizabeth Ichite (53.94) on the women's side. Harris and Ichite automatically qualified by winning their heats.
Senior Darrin Gibson recorded the fastest 800-meter qualifying time of the day, recording a season-best mark of 1:49.82. Tremaine Grant rode a season-best time of 14.14 into the finals of the 110-meter hurdles.
With momentum on their side, the FSU men and women will try and pull of their first ACC Championships team sweep on Sunday. That's no small feat considering the scoring potential back at home in Tallahassee.
"The assignment on both sides was large," Braman said. "We've tried to play it down, but we've got six All-Americans at home with injuries and things like that on the men's side, and a few prominent women as well. For us to come out and compete like it's Florida State, not Florida State minus six All-Americans. ... I really like what we've done, how we're doing it and how the kids are pulling for each other."