Jacksonville Sports Day

FSU Twilight Meet Shines Spotlight Off, On Track

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Unseasonably cool temperatures pushed along by a steady breeze weren’t conducive to outstanding performances on the track at Friday’s Seminole Twilight. Still, the conditions didn’t prevent the Florida State’s track & field teams from getting some important work in before the start of the postseason.

On a day full of activities beyond the track and field, the Noles managed to combine for 13 wins and more than a handful of personal- or season-best marks, resulting in automatic qualifying berths to next weekend’s ACC Outdoor Championships at Georgia Tech.

“I thought we had good efforts,” Florida State coach Bob Braman said. “The weather was a deterrent to big marks.”

Still, the conditions did not prevent flawless execution of a few non-competitive events.

Friday began inside the McIntosh Building which houses FSU track & field, where the conference room was dedicated to Dr. Frankie Hall. Hall, 92, was the first women’s track & field coach of the Seminoles, guiding the 1969 team through a five-meet schedule capped by a trip to the Division of Girls and Women’s Sports First National Track & Field Championships in San Marcos, Texas.

Six members of Hall’s nine-athlete team and the lone assistant coach were on hand to honor their coach and mentor, whose health prevented her from attending.

“We were the first, and it has taken us a long time to realize we were real pioneers,” Hall said in an interview with the Tallahassee Democrat.

At the conclusion of the dedication, three women – Margaret Kane, Avis Latham Vaught and Lee Anne Wojtkowski – were presented with All-American certificates for their scoring finishes at that first national championship meet. They had waited 48 years to be recognized for the honor; something that Hall had pushed to see happen, since there were no awards presented at for the inaugural championship pioneers.

“This all started because Frankie wanted to take care of three of you and it didn’t take very much time, but the love you had for her turned around and made this dedication possible,” said FSU associate athletic director Bernie Waxman.

“It was truly neat to hear stories about that team, how they competed, how they formed and how they came together,” Braman said. “It was a very special, festive event for us. That was a fun, fun moment and it was great to have them here for all of us to appreciate and celebrate with them.”

Back out on the track, the 26 graduating Seminoles were recognized for their career contributions prior to taking part in the final home meet of the season. Over the past five years the members of the honored group had been part of eight ACC team titles, seven ACC individual titles – four of those by Kellion Knibb – produced five school records and 34 combined top 10 all-time marks.

Friday’s competition was all about building toward the addition of that legacy.

Among the noteworthy wins, freshman Nicole Breske claimed the pole vault with a lifetime-best clearance of 4.02 meters (13-2.25), which ranks as the No. 5 mark in school history and almost certainly secures her a trip to the NCAA East Preliminary meet. Redshirt freshman teammate Amanda Lewis was second (3.77m/12-4.5) with a personal-best which qualified her for the ACC Championships.

“With Nicole, she’s a freshman, and a high school state champion who comes in with a lot of accolades,” Braman said. “She’s getting on a role right now where she’s finally getting her groove. She looks like she’s got a pretty solid regional mark and put herself in position to score in the conference.”

Junior Gleneve Grange claimed her second discus victory of the season with a personal-best of 56.65m (185-10) and now ranks eighth nationally. Freshman teammate Shanice Love’s huge collegiate best of 53.56m (175-9) moved her to fourth in the ACC – behind Knibb and Grange – and 33rd nationally.

Among the other wins by the Seminole women were Veronika Kanuchova (hammer), Eleonora Omoregie (high jump) and Kayla Thomas (800).

Sarah Candiano led a 1-5 1500-meter finish by the Noles – all in personal-best times – coming home in 4:31.50. Madison Harris (4:31.77), Megan Mooney (4:32.51), Tara Rooney (4:33.04) and Courteney West (4:33.25) followed close behind.

Beyond the wins, Carmela Cardama Baez’s second-place season-opening 5000-meter run of 16:39.91 and Militsa Mircheva’s third-place 16:42.46, easily eclipsed ACC qualifying standards.

Victories on the men’s side came from Brandon Tirado (Hammer), Conor McClain (javelin), Chad DaCosta (shot put and discus), Ed’Ricus Williams (high jump), Michael Hall (800) and the 4×100 relay team of Raheem Robinson, Jamal Pitts, Edward Clarke and Keniel Grant.

Among the other noteworthy efforts were D’Mitry Charlton’s career-best 52.81 in the 400-meter hurdles, which was not only good for second, but moved the redshirt sophomore into NCAA East qualifying position. Montel Nevers’ wind-aided 15.86-meter (52-0.5) triple jump also strengthened his standing at the East and national level.

The Seminoles will now turn their attention to the ACC Championships, which begin Friday. The 14th-ranked FSU will attempt to defend their 2016 team title while the men will try and rekindle the magic of their last crown in 2015.

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