May 31, 2008
Tallahassee, Fla. - It was a fitting final bow for senior Walter Dix and the Florida State men's track team as they closed down its last meet at Mike Long Track this season with the Seminoles' fourth-consecutive NCAA East Regional Title. The team and its premiere sprinter will now head west to Iowa on June 11-14 for to fight for their third-straight NCAA Championship.
The women's team also tied its best finish to date at the four spot.
"We had a great day," said head coach Bob Braman. "We got done what we needed to get done and put ourselves in a good spot heading to nationals in two weeks. Now we just need to rest up for the next week, keep every body healthy and head to Iowa."
Dix completed his final race in Tallahassee with a 20.10 mark in the men's 200m dash finals. The mark not only completed Dix's collection of 200m regional titles with four, it was also the fourth-best time in the world this year and the best time Mike Long Track has ever seen. The Coral Springs, Fla. native also finished third in the men's 100m dash with a time of 10.21, his best of the season.
Adding to the Seminoles' sprinting prowess were sophomore Charles Clark, junior Michael Ray Garvin and a pair of top-five relay teams. Clark took second in the 200m with a personal-best time of 20.22 while Garvin finished fourth with a 20.66. Garvin also clocked in with a 10.44 to finish seventh in the 100m.
Clark also took part in the men's 4x100m relay who took first in a photo finish to earn the Seminoles' first points of the day. Going into the final turn the Seminoles were trailing as senior Drew Brunson passed the baton to Clark. Coming down the straightaway, Clark turned out the jets and blasted the competition to eek out a win for the garnet and gold.
Freshman Brandon Byram also ran the 4x100m to start the day and capped things off in the 4x400m relay alongside Elliot Wood, Hubert Mitchell and Kevin Williams. The foursome finished fifth with a 3:07.39.
Senior distance runners Luke Gunn and Mark Buckingham finished first and third respectively in the 3000m steeplechase to officially take the team regional crown. Gunn crossed the line eons ahead of the competition with an 8:41.16 with Buckingham two spots behind at 8:51.93.
Wood added points to the Seminoles' tally in the men's 400m hurdles with a fourth-place finish of 50.33.
With a top leap of 52'04.50" mark, senior transfer Ray Taylor took fifth in the men's triple jump. Taylor uncorked a monster jump in his final leap of the meet, but the judges called a foul and the defending outdoor national champion had to settle for fifth place--still enough for a trip to Iowa.
Freshman Gonzalo Barroilhet performed double-duty on the final day of competition as he raced in the 110m hurdle finals in between attempts at the men's pole vault. The rookie finished seventh in the hurdles with a 14.18 and tied for fourth in the pole vault with a 16'07.25" to score a total of 6.50 points for the Seminoles.
On the women's side, it was a one-two finish for the Seminoles in the women's 1500m race. Sophomore Hannah England crossed the line first with a 4:22.53 with junior Susan Kuijken a few steps behind at 4:24.30. Both will advance to the NCAA Championships.
"It was great to see Susan back out there looking like Susan," said Braman. "To have both of them finish on top was great for our women's team. Last year we only had three competitors at nationals on the women's side, so we're looking even better this year."
Freshman Kim Williams added to her growing list of accolades with her first NCAA Regional Championship. Williams posted a 45'04.50" leap to ace the triple jump and book her plane ticket to Iowa. Sophomore Tiara Swanagan also scored points for FSU in the triple jump with a sixth-place leap of 43'04.25".
Pilar McShine also put up some big points for the Seminoles. The sophomore 800m runner took fourth place with a time of 2:06.95 to tack on four points to the FSU women's score. McShine's finish puts her in position to compete at first national championship meet on June 11.
Freshman Teona Rodgers took seventh in the 100m hurdles with a time of 13.67 to score two points for the Seminole women.
Florida State scored its last points of the meet on the women's side in the 4x400m relay. Junior Keyla Smith, freshman Brittany St. Louis, junior Hshkeni Richemond and senior Kandia Batchelor clocked a 3:34.51 to finish sixth. Though it was not an automatic shot at the national championship, the race definitely put the group in contention for an at-large bid to Iowa.
"It was great to see so many track people out here today," said Braman of the record crowd of about 5,000 who lined the fences at Mike Long Track.
The Seminoles will head west to Des Moines, Iowa on June 11 to compete in the final meet of the season.