The Florida State men's and women's track & field teams combined for six more NCAA Championship meet qualifiers Friday, pushing its two-day total to 11 at the East Preliminary meet.
"If we can compete like this tomorrow [Saturday], we're going to fill up that plane and have a really good national championship meet," Florida State coach Bob Braman said, at the end of the day.
The Seminoles received dominant performances from freshman Morne Moolman and sophomore Colleen Quigley, who posted the top marks in the javelin and 3000-meter steeplechase, respectively, as the starting fields of 48 were pared to 12.
One throw away from failing to reach the finals, Moolman unleashed a meet-best throw of 75.17 meters (246-7) to easily outdistance the rest of the field. The South Africa native also improved on his Florida State school record mark, set initially at the Texas Relays in April, and will enter the June 5-8 championship meet at Oregon with the seventh-best throw in the country this year.
"This is kind of a strange meet because it's a qualifying round," FSU Director of Field Events Dennis Nobles said. "If you've never done it before it's kind of hard to come to a meet and try to not win; you just try to finish in the top 12. I think that messes with a few people who have never been here before.
"Being a freshmen, [Moolman] showed an awful lot of maturity. … On his third throw, he knew he basically had to do it and he did. He came down the runway under control, put his foot down nicely and didn't even lay out. I'm really happy with the effort and the outcome. It just goes to show how much talent the young man really does have."
While Moolman's performance came in the opening event of the day at the Irwin Bell Track on the North Carolina A&T campus, Quigley helped close out the night. Running at the front from the gun, the 2012 All-American ran away from the first heat field, winning in a personal-best time of 9:49.44, which is off the school record held by 2012 Olympian Barbara Parker (9:48.42).
"I wasn't training through this," said Quigley. "I was peaking for this so I was ready for a hard effort and a PR. It felt surprisingly easy. … It's just kind of fun to see how fast I can run by myself and I know I can go faster if I had people to push me."
Four other Seminoles secured trips to Eugene, Ore., including junior Dentarius Locke, who won his 100-meter dash heat in 10.05. It was not only the second-fastest time of the quarterfinal round – the fastest in legal wind conditions – but an all-time best that moved him to No. 5 on FSU's all-time list.
It is also the 10th-fastest time in the world in 2013 – the fifth-fastest by an American – and ranks third among collegians.
Top-seeded junior James Harris continued his impressive first season with the Seminoles by easily qualifying for the NCAA Championship meet with his first heat win in the 400-meter dash (46.15).
Beyond the most veteran Seminoles, two freshmen also made their mark on the second of three days of competition. Sage Watson nailed down her first NCAA Outdoor Championship trip by storming the homestretch to finish third and grab the last qualifying spot in her heat of the 400 hurdles in 58.40. "I'm really, really happy for the freshman Sage Watson," Braman said. "Her effort was supreme. Her hurdling was off, so it was a gut-check for her. She was in fourth place - three were going to go [to nationals] - and she guts it out down the straight-away. A freshman going to nationals – that's pretty special."Fellow first-year ‘Nole Zak Seddon pulled the curtain on Friday night's competition in the men's steeplechase, leaving Georgetown's Max Darrah behind at the water jump on the final lap to win the third and final heat in 8:43.65.
"I've had a lot of experience over barriers and that helps; also a lot of strength work coach has given me," Seddon said. "When it comes to the last 200 I know I can finish well. I'm pleased with the time because I ran my fastest ever last kilometer (2:46); I won my heat so I'm going to nationals.
"It's going to be good fun."
In addition to the NCAA-bound performance, Locke advance to the Saturday quarterfinal round in the 200-meter dash on time (20.95) and junior Anne Zagre reeled in the field to move on in the 100-meter hurdles in 13.24.
Beyond the NCAA qualifiers, freshman Hannah Acton narrowly missed joining the Eugene-bound group after posting her collegiate-best mark in the pole vault (4.00m/13-1.50); good for a share of 18th place.
"She equaled her PR and was in the competition," Nobles said of Acton. "For a freshman to come to this meet and be in the competition speaks volumes for what the future holds. I'm really excited to be moving on toward next year."
The Seminoles will close out the meet with a busy day Saturday, which will begin with the men's 4x100 relay on the track and a trio of FSU women – Amanda Winslow, Georgia Peel and Linden Hall – chasing national berths in the 1500.
School shot put record-holder Chelsea Whalen will compete in her specialty as well as the javelin, while Harris will try and add to his NCAA event count in the high jump as well.