In his first race since injury his hamstring at the Florida High School state meet in May, the Florida State dual-sport star did not disappoint, bolting from the blocks on the way to victory in the opening heat. His time of 6.64 seconds was not only a personal best – he had only run the 60-meter distance once before in high school – but is the third-fastest time in Division I early on in the 2013 season.
"Obviously Bracy has that innate ability to go out after three weeks of practice and he throws down the third-fastest time," FSU head coach Bob Braman said. Frankly 6.64 is going to make it (to nationals) every time. "He didn't look intimidated at all. He didn't look like he was digging, either. It looked easy."
Bracy heads into Saturday's semifinal round, where he will run out of lane 4 in the first of two heats. The top two runners in each heat, plus the next four fastest finishers will advance to the evening final. FSU teammates David Ambler (6.88) and Dentarius Locke (6.81) also advanced to the semifinal. Ambler will join Bracy in the first heat while Locke will run in the second heat.
While Locke did what was necessary to move on from the preliminary round in the 60, he saved just enough for a solid scoring performance in his 200-meter season debut. The redshirt junior covered the single-lap event in 21.15 seconds, good for a fourth-place showing and the fastest time among Atlantic Coast Conference sprinters this season.
"Locke gets another race (in the 60) and looked pretty darn good in the 200," Braman added.
On the women's side, junior Marecia Pemberton also moved on to the 60-meter semifinals, qualifying with the fifth-fastest time in the preliminary round (7.50). It's just another step on the comeback trail for Pemberton, who is competing in just her second meet since undergoing hip surgery in the spring.
Competing in a rare, early-season scored meet, the unranked Seminole women closed out the first day with 15.5 points after seven events, good for seventh place in the 11-team event which includes eight nationally ranked teams. The No. 21 Florida State men are in eighth place with 17 points from a field of 11 that includes six nationally ranked teams.
"We did a lot of decent things on both side," Bramans said. "Stefan Brits was pretty good in the long jump. Both girls – Maryke Brits and Der'Renae Freeman - qualified for the finals. … It was a pretty good first day. We've got to put the pieces together. I thought we were OK. We've got some exciting things coming up tomorrow."
Five women earned top-eight finishes to contribute to the Seminoles' point total. Freshman long jumper Maryke Brits, competing in just her second meet, leaped 6.05 meters (19-10.25) to tie for third place. Brits' effort ranks second among ACC jumpers this season. Freeman was seventh with a season-best effort of 5.78m (18-11.75).
A pair of freshmen pole vaulters – Hannah Acton and Karly Jackson – continued to show early-season signs of improvement with new season-best marks. Acton was fifth, clearing 3.87 meters (12-8.25), while Jackson was seventh (3.57/11-8.50). Another freshman, Ewa Marcinkiewicz, placed seventh in the pentathlon. The Swede finished with 3,404 points in her first collegiate competition in the five-event competition.
Over the on the men's side, sophomore Stefan Brits claimed a fifth-place finish in the long jump, despite a controlled effort. Brits matched his career indoor best for the ‘Noles by going just 7.37 meters (24-2.25), despite passing on his three final attempts in an attempt not to tax a nagging hamstring issue.
Seth Proctor matched Locke for the highest finish among Seminole men, placing fourth in the 5,000 meters (14:47.16). Proctor led two-thirds of the way through the event before a slight fade over the closing four laps.
Senior Andrew LaHaye closed out the first-day scoring for the ‘Noles with a sixth-place finish in the men's pole vault (5.06m/16-7.25).
The Seminoles will return to action Saturday with a full slate of competitors, including both the men's and women's distance teams. Karen Harvey's FSU women will chase national qualifying marks when Amanda Winslow, Colleen Quigley and Georgia Peel line up in the invitational mile run. Kayleigh Tyerman and Jessica Parry will compete in the 3,000-meter women's invitational and freshman Natalie Concepcion will try and improve on last week's 800-meter personal best as one of seven runners in the invitational section of her speciality.
On the men's side, senior Michael Fout hopes to crack the 4-minute mile barrier for the first time, while David Forrester lines up in a star-studded 3,000-meter field. Darrin Gibson will be hunting an NCAA-worthy time in the invitational section of the 800.
Saturday's action will begin with the field events, where sophomore Briana Cherry-Bronson looks to put together an encore performance after her school-record weight throw last week in Alabama. Junior Izzy Ileso will compete in the triple jump for the first time since her 2012 season ended prematurely with a knee injury. All-American Phillip Young will also open his season in the triple jump, where he will be joined by Owen Cain.
The 400-meter dash heats will include freshman Sage Watson on the women's side and both Alonzo Russell and Stephen Newbold for the men.
Of course the most highly anticipated race will be the 60-meter dash, with Bracy leading the Seminole crew into the semifinals, which are set for 3:25 (ET).