June 7, 2012
By Bob Thomas, seminoles.com
DES MOINES, Iowa - The Florida State men's track & field team is on the board, thanks to a monstrous day 2 rally by Gonzalo Barroilhet in the decathlon.
Barroilhet entered the final day of the grueling 10-event competition in 13th place and rocketed his way up the standings, actually taking the lead after the pole vault, before finishing fourth overall. His five-point haul put the Seminoles on the board.
Texas leads with 19 points, followed by Arkansas (16), Nebraska (14), Arizona (13), Kansas State (12) and LSU (11).
"It was one of these days when you were almost glad you didn't have a lot of folks running and competing," FSU coach Bob Braman said, after riding the emotional roller coaster with Barroilhet. "It was a typical track & field day. Gonzalo started the day 13th and got fourth. I thought he showed incredible courage in just a tough position to be in after the first day.
"They weren't going to give it to him. They knew he was going to be a beast and he was. He was six-tenths of a second from being in second place. If we can get on the right side of one of those breaks later, that'll be great."
Barroilhet climbed from 13th to ninth after the 110-meter hurdles and into sixth after the discus. The Chilean national record holder who is headed for his second Olympic Games, grabbed a 142-point lead after clearing 5.30 meters in the pole vault, but couldn't hang on as Boise State's Kurt Felix (8,062) seized control in the javelin. Texas-Arlington's Romain Martin (7,956) and Arkansas' Kevin Lalas (7,955) edged Barroilhet, who finished of a 7,952-point effort with a huge personal best of 4:37.04 in the 1500-meters.
"It was really a frustrating decathlon," Barroilhet said. "I fought every event to do my best and things just weren't coming along for me. ... I wasn't really sharp enough to do that extra five-percent that I needed."
Barroilhet said he spent Wednesday night getting refocused for the final day back at the hotel, preparing for a big Thursday finish.
"That's what I did, but I still wasn't hitting my best," said Barroilhet, who still scored more second-day points (4,057) than any other man in the field. "I went all out. I did it for the team. I knew I didn't have a chance to win and two extra points were really valuable."
Beyond Barroilhet's performance, the Seminoles took care of business elsewhere. Maurice Mitchell locked down the No. 1 qualifying spot in the 200-meter dash, cruising to victory in his semifinal heat (20.23). He will be joined in the finals by teammate Horatio Williams, who grabbed an automatic qualifying spot by finishing second in his heat in 20.69.
"We did a great job in the 200," Braman said. "Maurice was clearly two-tenths to be best and Horatio did a great job to be an automativally qualifier. He'll get a decent lane."
Florida State's women enjoyed a banner, but bittersweet day in the 1500-meter semifinal races. Amanda Winslow and Violah Lagat each qualified for the final, but senior Hannah Brooks - and All-American last year outdoors and in the 2012 indoor mile - came up short of reaching the finals.
All three posted new career-bests, with Winslow grabbing fifth in the first heat in 4:13.08, just in front of Brooks (4:14.01). Lagat earned the last qualifying spot on time, also in a career-best time of 4:13.30.
"PR's for all three," Braman said. "I thought of all the 1500 girls, Amanda Winslow said, `If I'm going to go down, I'm going to go down with a PR.' She fought like crazy and it was probably the best race of her career."
And he was equally excited for Lagat,
"Fantastic. It's her first NCAA Championship meet and she handled it pretty well," he added.
"We've got some opportunities," Braman said. "I'm excited. It's going to be a great, great meet."
One that's shaping up to come down to the wire; something the Seminoles have experienced five times in the last six years.