Jan. 11, 2014
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.- There's nothing quite like a competitive 4x400 relay race to bring a meet to a close and rivals Florida State and Florida delivered just that Saturday in the final event of UAB Blazer Invitational at the Birmingham Crossplex Arena.
The matchup of relay teams returning at least three legs from last year's first- and third-place finishes at the NCAA Indoor Championship meet did not disappoint, despite the fact that rival Florida (3:06.11) edged the Seminole quartet of Alonzo Russell, Michael Cherry, Dentarius Locke and James Harris (3:07.7).
"It was the way an indoor meet should end," Florida State coach Bob Braman said.
Cherry, a freshman competing in his first meet (and event), matched Harris for the fastest relay split (46.1) as the Seminoles registered the No. 8 time in school history, a mark that should also qualify the `Noles for the 2014 NCAA Indoor Championships.
The women's 4x400 relay produced the same outcome, as the Seminole quartet of Elizabeth Ichite, Marsha Ariol, Sydnee Over and Sarah Chandler ran a respectable season-opening time of 3:46.02, which trailed only Florida.
There were several strong performances on the final day of competition, including more success for the Seminoles' throwers. Senior Chelsea Whalen and redshirt freshman Kellion Knibb registered indoor career-best marks in the shot put to place third and fourth, respectively. Whalen, FSU's outdoor school record-holder, marginally improved her previous indoor best with a third-place throw of 15.83 meters (51-11.25). Knibb, who sat out the indoor season last year and changed her technique from rotational to glide, came up with an all-conditions best mark of 15.56m (51-0.75).
Freshmen Chadrick DaCosta and Austin Droogsmaeach advanced to the finals of the men's shot put in their first collegiate action. DaCosta recorded a third-place finish with a mark of 16.25 meters (53-3.75), while Droogsma placed ninth (14.80m/48-6.75).
Sophomore Der'Renae Freeman got the day started on the right foot for the Seminoles, soaring to a career-best of 6.21 meters (20-4.50) in the long jump to lock down a third-place finish. The Orlando native's breakthrough leap came on her sixth and final attempt. Three of her four legal jumps exceeded her previous indoor career-best (5.94). She now owns the seventh-best indoor mark in Seminole history.
In the Section B 60-meter dash finals, freshman Kali Davis-White and senior Marecia Pemberton raced to the wire in third and fifth-place, respectively. Davis-White (7.47) was just off her qualifying time and trailed only a pair of post-collegiate athletes. Pemberton (7.53) improved her preliminary round time by .02.
In other field event action, Grete Sadeiko's return from reconstructive ACL surgery in April went well as she cleared 1.69 meters (5-6.50) in the high jump to place sixth.
"As far as rust-busters go, it was a typical one for us," Braman said, after getting the first competitive glimpse of his team. "We saw some things that should excite you."
Competing unattached, transfer Kala Funderburk's two-lap trip around the Birmingham Crossplex track in 56.30 was good for a sixth-place finish.
Former Seminole and 2011 Bowerman Award winner Ngoni Makusha turned in the most impressive performance of the day, winning the long jump with a leap of 8.10m (26-7). It was his best mark since suffering a torn Achilles tendon in the spring of 2012.