April 30, 2012
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Seminoles Violah Lagat, Hannah Brooks and Breandan O Neill all made the most of their cross country trek to Stanford for Sunday's Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational track & field meet, each registering career-best times at Cobb Track and Angell Field.
Running just off the leaders entering the final 400 meters in the third section of the 1500-meter race, Lagat and Brooks bolted to the front and pulled away for a 1-2 finish in 4:15.15 and 4:15.59, respectively. Those are the fifth and sixth fastest times in Florida State history for the duo, who have locked in NCAA Regional qualifying times in their final season of collegiate eligibility.
"Violah Lagat is starting to light it up," said FSU women's distance coach Karen Harvey. "She is starting to believe in her talent and potential. Hannah is working on racing with more aggression and I think she will really start making some noise. It's nice to see Violah and Hannah run lifetime bests tonight."
Jessica Parry, running in the same section three race, pulled off a seventh-place finish in 4:19.04, her fastest 1500 since winning the 2011 ACC outdoor title. Amanda Winslow was 10th in section two of the 1500, finishing in 4:18.68.
"We have five weeks to go and all four of these ladies have things to work and improve on so they can get to the national stage in June," Harvey added. "There will be no settling. This group is ready to push harder and reach harder."
Not to be outdone, O Neill and Michael Fout got after it in the second section of the 5000 meters in a field of 30 runners under the lights
Biding their time at the back end of a huge lead pack, Fout and O Neill sat back between 10th and 15th place until the pace began to quicken over the final 1600 meters. They began to work their way up the pecking order over the next two laps. O Neill made a big play to stay with the front runners over the final 600 meters, a decision that paid huge dividends.
The ACC 10,000-meter champion, in his first season with the Seminoles, rode his finishing surge to a fifth-place finish in 13:41.56. Not only did the Sandymount, Ireland native shatter his previous career-best by nearly 30 seconds, he registered the second-fastest time in Florida State history.
Fout, who was the runner-up in the 5000 and third in the 10,000 at the ACC Championships just a week ago, continued to show improving form after missing the indoor season with an injury. The junior came home 11th in 13:47.76, just over one second off his all-time best.
"It was a great night for our guys," FSU coach Bob Braman said. "Breandan ran the second-fastest time in school history and Mike was close to his lifetime best, and that's coming off a brutal ACC double."
David Forrester made his long-awaited outdoor season debut in the third section of the 1500-meter run. Showing no ill-effects of a calf strain that had kept him on the shelf, Forrester finished eighth in his heat in 3:44.67.
"It was a nice opener for Dave," Braman said. "His calf held up nicely and now he can start doing more aggressive training."
Beyond the current Seminoles racing at Stanford, three former FSU standouts also got into the action. None was more impressive than Barbara Parker, the Great Britain native who posted an Olympic A-standard time of 15:14.26, which was not only good for fourth place, but also the fourth-fastest time in the world to date this year.