May 31, 2014
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Kellion Knibb left no doubt that she was going to the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The sophomore had already locked in a trip to Eugene, Ore. for the June 11-14 meet when she stepped up for her sixth and final discus throw Friday night.
Knibb let out a scream as she unleashed her final throw of the East Preliminary competition and watched the discus sail into the night. When it finally landed, Jamaica had a new national record holder, and Knibb had long-awaited redemption after falling short of an NCAA berth last season.
Her mark of 61.34 meters (201-3) not only broke her home country's record, but the Atlantic Coast Conference and UNF facility records, as well as her own Florida State record by a whopping five meters (16 feet).
"I really liked the vibe that was going on out here," said Knibb, who led the competition early, but was in fourth place before she put together her magical throw. "It was smooth and as coach [Dorian Scott] always says, the good throws always feel easy. It was easy. I didn't have to try that hard to get it out.
"The whole competition was kind of in pieces so all I had to do for my last throw was put it together, and that's what I did. I came together perfectly."
It was the marquee performance on a day that seemed to come together perfectly for the Seminoles, who pushed their NCAA Championship qualifying total to 11, adding seven on the second day of competition.
"That was a special moment," FSU coach Bob Braman said of Knibb's record-smashing throw." It's not quite Walter Dix's collegiate record, but it's in that special stratosphere. At regions you always have somebody that reaches out that makes that next step. We have a lot people who can qualify, but who is going to put their name out there as the next big thing. ... She reaches out and does it now.
"It's a great, great credit to coach Scott."
The Florida State men accounted for five of those NCAA qualifying spots, including a pair of surprises.
Senior Dentarius Locke posted the fastest time (10.03-w) in the 100-meter dash. Freshman Michael Cherry upstaged senior teammate James Harris in the 400-meter dash. Cherry ran the seventh-fastest time in school history (45.37), good for the No. 4 qualifying mark, while the 2013 All-American, Harris (45.75), also punched his ticket.
Freshman Cejhae Greene and sophomore Otniel Teixieira entered the meet seeded 19th and 20th, in the 100 and 800, respectively. They walked away from Hodges Stadium among the 12 qualifiers moving on. Greene ran 10.33 to grab the final spot by four-thousandths of a second. Teixeira was tactically brilliant, blowing through the field up the home stretch to advance automatically with his third-place heat finish (1:49.24).
"For a group that came here to move to the next step, we came, we executed and moved on," FSU associate head coach and sprints mentor, Ken Harnden said. "Cejhae Greene going through as a freshman - that's a special move."
As for Cherry, who has posted new personal-bests in three consecutive 400-meter races, Harnden also had a special message.
"It's what we know he can do. It's not a surprise," he said of the two-time high school national champion. "I know what he can be and what he's ready to do. I told him after the race, `You can be very happy with this but you can't be satisfied, because you're better than that.' He is, which says a lot. He opened a new chapter today and it's going to be special."
Teixeira's performance in the third heat of the 800 was as beautiful as it was improbable. He bided his team through the first 600 meters on the rail, then shot like a bolt past four runners over the final 50 meters.
"Coach just said to run to qualify and I just went with the confidence and everything worked out perfectly," said Teixeira, who now has an NCAA bid to go along with an ACC title in his first season as a Seminole. "I was confident I was going to make it. ... I know it's coaching and me working hard, but making it to NCAA's is a blessing."
A lengthy weather delay for lightning led to a one-hour adjustment to the running schedule, leading to a second consecutive late night finish. That did not deter sophomore Pippa Woolven, who shattered her lifetime-best time in the 3000-meter steeplechase in 9:54.24 - fourth-fastest in FSU history - and automatically qualified by virtue of her second-place heat finish.
"Pippa Woolven was fantastic; a big breakthrough and probably a national scoring time if you do it on the day," Braman said.
The Seminoles will try and add to their championship-qualifying total Saturday, when FSU's men and men get the action started on the track in the 4x100 relay at 6 p.m.
For the Seminole women, Anne Zagre will compete in the quarterfinals of the 100-meter hurdles, moving on after posting the eighth-best time (13.22) Friday. Freshman Kali Davis-White also advanced to the quarterfinals in the 200-meter dash on time (23.73). They join Georgia Peel and Linden Hall, as they attempt to lock in top-12 finishes in the 1500. Chelsea Whalen and Lakitta Johnson will also compete in the shot put.
Jakub Zivechas reached of the quarterfinals of the men's 1500, while Chad DaCosta is slated to go in the discus. The FSU men's 4x400 relay will close out the qualifying action on the track at 9:25 p.m.
"We continue to have an outstanding meet," Braman concluded. "Tomorrow the big, big things are the 1500-meter kids. I'd like to think that all three should make it the way they've been racing. Both 4x100 relays should get in. I'm excited about the men's 4x1 getting though. I'm not nervous about it or scared. If we can't get out here and throw down 39-low, then we're not going to do it. I think we have a relay team that's going to be a national challenger with those pieces going the way they're going now. And of course, who can't be excited about our 4x400.
"We've got some fun tomorrow."
Live NCAA East Preliminary events are available here: http://results.flashresults.com/2014_Meets/outdoor/05-29-NCAAEast/
Up-to-the-minute updates can be tracked via Twitter @FSU_Track, with a complete wrap-up of each day posted to www.seminoles.com and also on the official Florida State Track and Field facebook page https://www.facebook.com/FSUTrack.