March 30, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - It was a great day for the Florida State women's track & field, both in the Sunshine and the Lone Star states.
Women's distance coach Karen Harvey unleashed her charges for the first time this outdoor season and they didn't disappoint. The Seminoles dominated both the 1500- and 5000-meter races Friday night at the UNF Best Western Invitational in Jacksonville, with Violah Lagat and Hannah Brooks not only winning their respective events, but leading a trail of garnet & gold singlets across the finish line.
In Austin, Texas at the 85th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays, triple jumper Michelle Jenije continued her brilliant senior campaign with another victory against a competitive field.
Jenije, like the women's distance runners, made the most of her outdoor season debut. The Tallahassee native, coming off an NCAA Indoor Championship runner-up finish in the triple jump, unleashed a nation-leading and career-best mark of 13.47m (44-2.50) on her third attempt of the day. While the mark was wind-aided and therefore will not count toward records, only three Seminoles - Kimberly Williams, Teresa Bundy and Esmeralda Garcia - have jumped further, and all three have NCAA titles to their credit.
"The exciting thing about Michelle is jumping 44-feet is becoming ho-hum for her," FSU coach Bob Braman said. "That's exciting. She's really moving up the all-time lists, which is pretty impressive when you have national champions Kimmie Williams and Teresa Bundy.
"I'm excited to see the consistency. In the field events, that's what the good people do."
Jenije defeated a solid field, which included Kansas All-American Andrea Geubelle. And while the wind-aided leap was her best of the day, Jenije also registered a legal jump of 13.34m (43-9.25) that eclipsed her previous outdoor best by .30.
Harvey's distance team refused to take a back seat to anyone in Jacksonville. Despite training through the meet, the Seminoles were the class of the field.
Lagat started her senior season campaign by winning the 1500 in 4:24.08; a time that will likely earn her a trip back to UNF, which will host the NCAA East Region in May. Jackie Drouin, a graduate student making her FSU debut, was fifth in 4:29.76 and followed immediately by sophomore Jessica Parry (4:32.16) and junior Kayleigh Tyerman (4:32.89).
"Lagat did a nice job," Braman said. "They trained really hard and looked like they had dead legs down the stretch."
The `Noles were even more dominant in the 5000, grabbing the top four finishing positions and six of the first eight. In a race reminiscent of the NCAA South Region Cross Country Championship, Florida's Florence Ngetich and Callie Cooper took the pace out early, but paid dearly.
"Our girls just gobbled them up," said Braman, who watched Brooks lead the garnet & gold parade across the finish in 16:20.05. Amanda Winslow and Astrid Leutert finished second and third, recording personal-bests of 16:21.78 and 16:23.07, while freshman Colleen Quigley was fourth (16:35.30).
"They ran a great team race," Braman said. "They had a race plan, they executed it. Some of them were running regional marks and will never run a 5k again. I was really impressed with the top three."
Freshman Aubree Wodren was sixth (16:42.78) and classmate Linden Hall was eighth (17:00.71).
The action will continue at both venues on Saturday. Amy Harris will compete in the long jump at the Texas Relays. At UNF, sophomore Bianca Smith qualified seventh for the 100-meter finals (11.88), while freshman Desmonae Gray advanced to the finals of the 100-meter hurdles in a season-best 14.43.