March 3, 2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - It required nothing less than complete team efforts for the Florida State men's and women's track & field teams to bring home Atlantic Coast Conference Indoor Championships trophies at the conclusion of Saturday's three-day meet at Clemson.
Claiming just the second ACC Indoor championship in program history, the Seminole women didn't win the most events or even produce the most outstanding runner or field event performer at the meet. FSU captured the title on the strength of three gold medal performances and the ability to score in 11 of 17 events, including multiple top-eight scorers in five of 15 individual events.
That strength of balance delivered the Seminoles their first title since 2009 and also the second leg in their pursuit of the rare ACC Triple Crown.
The `Noles piled up 18 points in the mile with the 1-2 finish by Quigley and Linden Hall, who in the process recorded the second- and third-fastest times in the nation, and 14 points in the 5000 as Pippa Woolven and Hannah Walker finished second and third, respectively. Lakitta Johnson and Briana Cherry-Bronson combined for nine points in the weight throw, while Chelsea Whalen, Kellion Knibb and Johnson teamed for 10 points in the shot put. Those four events produced 51 of the team's winning 96.50 point total.
On the men's side the Seminoles withstood an intense battle with Notre Dame and North Carolina, capturing their 10th ACC Indoor title with 97 points and the Tar Heels (89) and Irish (84) close behind.
Unlike the women's team, the FSU men won a meet-best four events. Seniors Dentarius Locke (60-meter) and James Harris (high jump) and juniors Jonathan Reid (triple jump) and Paul Madzivire (long jump) provided the gold. The Seminoles scored in 11 of 17 events, but were especially productive in the field events.
The Seminoles carried plenty momentum into Saturday's finals thanks to the Friday's high-point hauls in the high jump and long jump. Harris successfully defended his ACC title with a record-breaking victory (7-4.25), but the real bonanza came when senior transfer Darius King pitched in a fourth-place finish in his FSU debut and sophomore Cristobal Hurtado-Arteaga cleared a career-best 6-9.50 for seventh place. That enabled the `Noles to open the meet with 17 points after the first scored event.
Madzivire helped bookend that start with his second long jump gold in three years in the final field event of the night. Coupled with freshman Jalen Ramsey's bronze medal performance and junior Stefan Brits' fourth-place finish, the Seminoles came away with 21 points in the event to close the first full day of competition with 40 points; good for a share of second place with North Carolina and only four points behind Friday leader Duke (44).
On Saturday, a pair of freshmen Seminoles - Chadrick DaCosta and Austin Droogsma - tag-teamed for six points point in the shot put, which was more than the coaching staff had conservatively projected.
As an added bonus to the field event contributions, veteran Jakub Zivec gutted out a five-point, fourth-place finish in the mile, while sophomore transfer Otniel Teixeira netted three more points with a sixth-place finish in the 800. Still, the `Noles could not manage anything close to a comfortable advantage until the final field event of the meet. In the same pit where the long jumpers flourished, Reid's triple jump victory and Owen Cain's fourth-place finish - good for a 15-point total - sent the Seminoles into the 4x400 relay needing only a fourth-place finish for their 10th title. FSU finished third when Locke managed to grit his teeth through leg cramps over the final 200 meters of his second leg, allowing Michael Cherry and Harris to close out the competition with a bronze medal performance.
Collectively, 16 of the 25 FSU men who participated in the meet contributed to the 97-point team total. Demonstrating and even greater level of depth, 20 of the 25 Seminole women chipped in scoring contributions to their triumphant 96.5 point winning total.
Thirteen `Noles earn All-ACC honors
In all, 13 Seminoles earned All-ACC distinction - five men and eight women - led by Locke (60 and 200), who was the lone FSU athlete to claim honors in two events. He was joined by Harris (high jump), Madzivire and Ramsey (long jump) and Reid (triple jump) on the men's side, totaling six spots.
Eight different women were named All-ACC for their performances: Pemberton (60), Elizabeth Ichite (400), Quigley and Hall (mile), Woolven and Walker (5000), Freeman (long jump) and Anne Zagre (60-meter hurdles).
At their best when it mattered most
Thirteen Seminoles - eight women and five men - contributed career-best collegiate performances to the championship cause. Three of those women - Der'Renae Freeman, Lakitta Johnson and Alejandra Martinez - recorded multiple career-best marks over the course of the three-day meet.
Johnson enjoyed the most bountiful breakthrough of the group, by throwing 20.10 meters (65-11.50) in the weight throw to finish fourth on Friday, then following up Saturday in the shot put with a career-best mark of 15.55m (51-0.25) to place seventh. Freeman also doubled up, winning the long jump with a leap of 6.38m (20-11.25), which is tied for the sixth-best mark nationally this season. She also posted the fastest 60-meter dash (7.56) of her career, missing a trip to the finals by .003 seconds.
Martinez' ninth-place finish in the pentathlon failed to yield any points, but her performance was nonetheless impressive. Not only did she record a career-best total of 3,528 points, she notched personal-best marks in four of five events along the way.
Other personal-bests on the women's side included Colleen Quigley (4:34.80) and Linden Hall (4:34.93) in the mile, Elizabeth Ichite in the 400 (53.99), Grete Sadeiko in the pentathlon (a school record 3,776 points) and Pippa Woolven in the 5000 (16:08.93).
Personal-bests on the men's team were turned in by Chadrick DaCosta in the shot put (16.69m/54-9.25), Cristobal Hurtado-Arteaga in the high jump (2.09m/6-9.50), Markindey Sineus in the weight throw (18.81m/61-8.50) and Jakub Zivec in the mile (4:09.48).
'Noles in the new computer rankings
The Florida State women, who were bumped from the top 25 last week, re-emerged as one of this week's biggest movers. The Seminoles rode their championship performance to a three-season high ranking of No. 13 nationally, up 14 spots in the rankings, which are based strictly on NCAA Indoor Championships scoring potential.
FSU's men, ironically, slipped a spot to No. 7 nationally.
NCAA Indoor fields will be set soon
While the official list of qualifiers won't be released until Wednesday, after event declarations, the Seminoles will once-again be well-represented on the big stage. James Harris has top-16 marks in both the high jump (2.27m/7-5.25) and 400 (46.15), and would also be a member of FSU's qualified 4x400 relay team (3:06.79). Dentarius Locke (6.58) is qualified in the 60-meter dash as is Jonathan Reid (16.32m/53-6.50) in the triple jump.
Three women's distances runners, milers Colleen Quigley (4:32.11) and Linden Hall (4:32.25), and 5000-meter standout Hannah Walker (15:58.15) are ranked among the top 16 in their respective events. So too are Der'Renae Freeman in the long jump (6.38m/20-11.25) and Briana Cherry-Bronson in the weight throw (20.98m/68-10). The `Noles have also posted a qualifying-worthy mark in the distance medley relay (11:01.59).
In addition to those who are well within the qualifying parameters, three other `Noles rank within the top 20 and could conceivably make their way into meet should there be scratches. That group includes Paul Madzivire in the long jump (7.70m/25-3.25), Marecia Pemberton in the 60 (7.33) and Pippa Woolven in the 5000 (16:01.57).