June 14, 2014
EUGENE, Ore. - With Linden Hall leading a final day charge, the Florida State women posted their best finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships since 2009, tying for 16th place with 15 points.
Hall's third-place finish in the 1500-meter run marked the best showing for the Seminole women, who got a sixth-place finish from Anne Zagre in the 100-meter hurdles and a seventh-place showing from the 4x100 relay team Saturday at Historic Hayward Field.
In a great show of patience, Hall positioned herself for a big finish, steering mostly clear from a bunched pack in a race that went out strategically slow. Aiming to improve on last season's ninth-place showing, Hall moved alongside eventual champion Shelby Houlihan of Arizona State with 400 meters remaining and held her ground.
The junior from Australia finished in 4:19.33, extending the Seminoles' streak of consecutive first-team All-Americans in the 1500 to a ninth consecutive year.
"I don't really remember a lot," said Hall, who started in lane 1. "It was kind of slow and pushy and all over the place. I was trying not to think too much, just run and not let anyone pass me.
"After about 400 [meters] I kind of got wide on the outside and was running in lane 3, but it was nice to be clear of the mess."
Women's distance coach Karen Harvey could not have been more proud.
"She made some great moves to get to the front with 500 or 600 meters to go," Harvey said. "I yelled at her, `You need to be brave right now,' and she came right up. The last 300 meters she was matching [the leaders], stumbles with 200 again, but she kept coming.
"Everything we've done in training in the last month, she did in that race right there. ... It couldn't happen to a better person."
Shortly after Hall gave the `Noles their most points in a single event, Zagre stepped into the blocks as a first-time finalist in the 100-meter hurdles, just one year after not advancing from the semifinals.
Chasing from the start, Zagre ran her fastest all-conditions time as a Seminole, closing in a wind-aided 12.80 for sixth against an extremely strong field. She is the first Seminole to score in the 100-meter hurdles at the championships since Kim Batten's fourth-place finish 1991.
"If she had five more meters and she would have picked off two more," FSU head coach Bob Braman said. "I'm proud of the way she dug down to get those key points."
"I'm really happy to finish top-eight, but the goal was top-three," Zagre said afterward.
"I couldn't be more proud of Anne, closing out the NCAA Championships for us with big points in the hurdles," FSU hurdles coach Brandon Hon said. "She's been a great leader and a blessing the entire season and today was no exception."
The day begin with fifth-year senior Marecia Pemberton handling the leadoff leg in the 4x100 relay, where she was joined by three underclassmen and NCAA Outdoor first-timers - sophomores Der'Renae Freeman and Jande Pierce, and freshman Kali Davis-White. Running out of lane 1 as the No. 8 seed, the `Noles came home seventh in 44.82, marking the 13th time an FSU team has grabbed first-team All-American honors in the event.
"What a fantastic job for the 4x1 ladies," Braman said. "Coach [Ken] Harnden shuffled the lineup to save Anne for the hurdle final and it worked really well. I'm most happy for Marecia Pemberton to go out as an All-American after two major surgeries."
With the Seminoles scoring in three events on the final day, to go along with Kellion Knibb's fifth-place showing in the discus on Thursday, the women posted their best team finish since the 2009 squad was fourth. They also finished higher than the FSU men - the `Noles tied for 20th with 11 points - for the first time since 2004.
"This is the start of something big for our women," Braman said. "Lots of first-timers that didn't shy away from the moment."