ATLANTA - During its run of three-straight Atlantic Coast Conference Championships Outdoor titles coming into this weekend, the Florida State men's track and field team has had a comfortable margin going into the final events. The quest for number four wasn't as easy as the Seminoles had to come from in the final four events on Saturday (April 19) to claim the outdoor title. It is also the eighth ACC Championship, indoor and outdoor, for Florida State.
The Seminoles scored 141 points to beat Clemson, who posted 124. Florida State's 141 points is the lowest by a winning team since Maryland scored 124.5 in 1976, the same year FSU assistant coach Dennis Nobles was a freshman on the track team. The 17-point margin is the fewest since the Tigers beat the Seminoles, 189-183, in 2001.
"I really believe that when we got to the 400 hurdles, the 200 and the 5,000 that it would have been real easy to give up," FSU head coach Bob Braman said. "The momentum was going the wrong way and we were getting back breaks, but those guys just sucked it up and got it done."
After the 100m dash - which FSU did not have any competitors - the Seminoles found themselves down 27 points to Clemson, 100-73. Florida State made up 21 points in the 800m run and 400m hurdles to pull within 100-94. The Seminoles had three of the top four finishes in the 200m dash to give FSU a 115-113 lead. FSU put the meet away with 16 points in the 5000m run then won the 4x400m relay to finish the meet.
Despite missing several key athletes, the women's team came in fourth to continue its streak of finishing fourth or higher at every outdoor meet since the school joined the ACC in 1992. The women tallied 105.5 points, finishing less than 10 behind third-place North Carolina. Virginia Tech won the meet with 172 points.
"The women's 400 was awesome, the women's 4x100 was big time, Hannah's the national leader in the 800 and Pilar was fighting like crazy; I thought we did a whale of job," Braman said of the women. "We always forget about Kimberly Williams because she dominates. Twenty points for a freshman who wasn't pressed was huge and we take that for granted."
Giving the Seminoles the push they need to take over first place was the men's 200m dash. Sophomore Charles Clark (Virginia Beach, Va.) ran the second-fastest time in the country, turning in a 20.59 to win the event. Junior Michael Ray Garvin (Upper Saddle River, N.J.) was third at 20.89 and rookie Brandon Byram (Gallatin, Tenn.) took fourth at 21.23.
Those three plus freshman Kevin Williams (Miami, Fla.) won the 4x400m relay with a season-best time of 3:05.38. That time rates sixth in the nation, sixth-fastest in school history and the fastest since the school record was set in 1986.
The event that put them over the top was the men's 5,000 meter run. With five runners who had been in either the finals of the 1500m run, 3000m steeplechase or 10,000 meter run, the Seminoles had three of the top six finishers. Senior Luke Gunn (Derby, England) came back from winning the steeplechase on Friday night to post a career-best time of 14:14.57 that earned him All-ACC honors in second.
"I thought we had rebounded, we had some good signs on Friday and I thought we'd rebound on Saturday and win by 30 points," Braman added. "We were only up two points going into the 5k and these guys did not want to lose. Mark Buckingham is sick, Steeve Gabart has run 15k in 48 hours under hot conditions and less than 24 hours ago Gunn sets the best mark in the country in the steeplechase so I couldn't be prouder of those guys."
Finishing two spots back despite battling a cold was senior Mark Buckingham (Huddersfield, England) in a time of 14.20.72. All-ACC runner in the 10,000m Steeve Gabart (Miami, Fla.) caught several runners in the last 100 meters to finish sixth at 14:25.11.
Turning in the best time in the country in the women's 800m was sophomore Hannah England (Oxford, England). She came on strong in the last 250 meters of the race to win with a time of 2:03.65 that is the third-fastest in school history. Improving on her time was sophomore Pilar McShine (Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago) as she ran 2:05.97, which puts her seventh in FSU lore.
Getting the Seminoles' first individual title of the day was senior Drew Brunson (Snellville, Ga.). Brunson, who grew up 20 miles from Georgia Tech, won the 110m high hurdles by just .06 as his lean at the finish gave him the top time of 13.94.
Winning her second event of the championships was freshman Kim Williams (Kingston, Jamaica). She took the triple jump with a top jump of 13.47m/44-02.50. Also earning All-ACC honors was sophomore Tiara Swanagan (Orange Park, Fla.) as she took third in career-best 12.86m/42-02.25 that rates her seventh in school history and qualified her for the NCAA East Regional meet.
In only his second race of the outdoor season, senior Andrew Krumins (Melbourne, Australia) posted a regional mark in the 800m. He ran a time of 1:49.87 that was second while senior Tommy Noyes (North Canton, Ohio) took eighth in 1:57.02.
Senior Elliott Wood (Sydney, Australia) overcame a bad hurdle down the back stretch by making his move in the last 100 meters to take second in the 400m hurdles with a season-best time of 51.37. Junior Javier Garcia-Tunon (Miami, Fla.) came in fifth in 52.01.
Florida State had both of its 4x100m relays finish in the top three. The men's squad of Brunson, Byram, Garvin and Clark ran a time of 39.46, but came in just .06 behind Clemson. The women posted its first regional mark in the event as the team of freshman Ashley Cruder (Denver, Colo.), freshman Teona Rogers (Tampa, Fla.), sophomore Auju Pugshley (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) and junior Nicole Marcus (Tallahassee, Fla.) recorded a time of 45.16.
The women's squad dominated the 400m dash with four of the top six places. Running a career-best 53.38 to take second place and earn All-ACC honors was senior Dania Massiah (Arima, Trinidad & Tobago). Also capturing an all-conference award was freshman Brittany St. Louis (Arima, Trinidad & Tobago) as her regional qualifying mark of 53.65 put her third. Also getting into the regional meet was junior Keyla Smith (Daytona Beach, Fla.) as she took fourth in 53.73. Senior Kandia Batchelor (Hillsborough, Fla.) ran 54.75 to take sixth.
Securing the final points of the day for the women was the 4x400m relay. The team of Smith, Hskeni Richemond (Sufferin, N.Y.), Batchelor and Massiah were just edged out at the finish line for a third-place time of 3:34.84. The time is FSU's best of the year.
Earning All-ACC honors in the 1500m run was sophomore Daniel Roberts (Vicksburg, Mich.). He qualified for the regional meet with a third-place time of 3:47.50. Scoring points for the women in the 1500m was Audrey Hand (Virginia Beach, Va.) as she ran a season-best 4:28.85 to take seventh.
The day started for the Seminoles with some unexpected points in the triple jump. Senior Ray Taylor (Sanguinetti, Jamaica) came in fourth, notching a regional qualifying mark of 15.50m/50-10.25. That jump is the eighth-longest jump in school history. The surprise came from freshman Aaron Steele (Newburgh, N.Y.) who leaped to a career-best 14.85m/48-08.75 to take seventh.
There were two Seminoles in the finals of the women's 100m dash. Marcus came in fourth with a time of 11.94, while Rogers grabbed a point in eighth place at 12.12.
A small contingency of athletes will compete in the Penn Relays next week, but the majority of Seminoles will be back in action May 10 when FSU plays hot to the Seminole Twilight.
Four in a Row. Men's Track Team wins ACC
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