May 24, 2012
By Bob Thomas, seminoles.com
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The opening day of the NCAA Championship East Preliminary meet included a few pleasant surprises for the Florida State track & field teams, but more importantly, not any terribly cost disappointments.
"It's typical NCAA competition in the first round," FSU coach Bob Braman said. "You're going to have such a small margin of error, so you're going to have some disappointments."
Two Seminole men secured spots in the NCAA Championship field by the end of Thursday's action at Hodges Stadium on the University of North Florida Campus. Freshman Stefan Brits eclipsed his previous collegiate best three times in six long jumps and earned his first national berth by finishing eighth with a best effort of 7.61m (24-11.75). Senior Michael Fout provided a bookend to Brits' early effort, placing fourth in the 10,000 meters (30:11.21) to secure a return trip to the championship meet.
Not to be outdone, the Seminole women also advanced two athletes to the June 6-9 NCAA Championship at Drake University. Senior Amy Harris fought her way through a difficult day to grab the 12th and final qualifying spot in the long jump. Harris leaped 6.16m (20-2.50) on her first attempt, then held on through the next five rounds, moving on by just one centimeter.
Sophomore Chelsea Whalen will make her first NCAA Championship appearance after placing ninth in the javelin. Whalen unleashed her best throw - 46.44m (152-4) - on her first attempt in the finals, which propelled her from 11th place to safely into the field.
The balance of the opening day action was reserved for first-round competition, and the Seminoles came through well.
FSU's sprint trio of Maurice Mitchell, Kemar Hyman and Horatio Williams all moved on to Friday's quarterfinal round. Mitchell laid down the fastest qualifying time (10.17) in his heat victory, while Hyman (10.46) won his heat as well. Williams also qualified automatically by placing third in his heat in 10.24.
Sophomore Jakub Zivec entered the first round of the 1500 meters seeded 25th, but used a heady performance to qualify 11th out of the first round in 3:47.64. The quarterfinals will be contested Saturday.
On the women's side, FSU sent six runners into the 1500 meter run and emerged with three qualifiers for the quarterfinal round. Amanda Winslow was the third-fastest qualifier (4:21.36), while Violah Lagat (4:27.98) and Hannah Brooks (4:29.00) finished 1-2 in their heat to move on.
Junior Darrin Gibson won the third heat of the 800 in 1:49.50 to secure a spot in Friday's quarterfinal round.
"I don't think we've put ourselves behind the eight-ball in terms of two weeks," Braman said. "Our stars were stars, and that's how we were most of the day. We've got work to do. We've got to protect our big point people and we've got to get the Mike Putman's in. Mike Fout looked great. It was a nice job by him."
Among the disappointments, senior David Forrester early-season calf injury picked a poor time to flare up. Forrester came into the meet as the seventh seed in the 1500, but limped home last in his heat. Long jumpers Paul Madzivire and Phillip Young failed to advance as well.
Friday's action gets underway at 10 a.m. with the field events, while the action on the track does not begin until 5 p.m.
There are several ways to follow the Seminoles' chase for NCAA Championship berths. Regularly updates will be shared via Twitter @FSU_Track, or you can check back at the end of each day - the action concludes around 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday - at Seminoles.com.
Live results can be tracked at www.deltatiming.com and a live stream is planned www.UNFOspreys.com.