Edoki helps FSU men take lead at ACC indoors

With a dominant long jump performance, outstanding qualifying efforts and a surprise or two Friday at the Loftus Sports Center, the Florida State men enter Saturday’s conclusion of the ACC Indoor Track & Field Championship with a one-point lead over the field.

Propelled by a 32-point haul in the long jump, where Fabian Edoki led a 1-2-3-4-6 finish, the Noles scored 46 points, good for a one-point edge over Virginia (45), with favorite Virginia Tech (40) and host Notre Dame (37) lurking.

Scoreless Friday, but qualifying well, the FSU women have a long climb from 14th-place on the final day.

“The long jump jump-started our day with an incredible finish,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “All five men were dialed in and fed off each other. Edoki dropped a season-best on the first jump of the competition and that was the spark we needed for the entire meet.”

The senior transfer from Middle Tennessee State was the first man on the runway and delivered a season-best opening leap of 7.86 meters (25-9.5), improving on his No. 11 national ranking coming into the meet.

“I was ready to go,” said Edoki. “I didn’t want to put pressure on myself, I wanted to put it on everyone else. I’m excited for nationals. I have to help the team tomorrow to score points in the triple jump, but after that I can worry about nationals.”

Edoki held off his teammate and top seed Isaac Grimes, whose fifth-round attempt of 7.85 meters (25-9.25) was good for a runner-up finish.

“I was worried because it’s so difficult to beat Isaac; he’s really, really good,” Edoki added.

The Noles weren’t done. Freshman Jeremiah Davis unloaded his own personal-best in the fourth round (7.69m/25-2.75) to claim third place in his ACC Championship debut and finish third. Junior transfer Darius Clark was fourth at 7.60m (24-11.25) and junior Jacore Irving eclipsed his previous lifetime best three times, capped off by his sixth-place mark of 7.51m (24-7.75).

“It’s very exciting,” said Davis, who earned first-team All-ACC honors. “Being a freshman here, competing with my teammates and popping a big PB is just an amazing feeling … To play a big part in that was amazing.”

Edoki, Grimes, Davis and Clark were all competing in their first ACC Championships, but weren’t the only first-timers to shine.

Sophomore Austin Thompson, a transfer from UNF, came into the pole vault competition seeded 12th and delivered a big scoring boost in the Noles’ title chase. The Orlando native posted a two-bar personal-best, clearing 4.98 meters (16-4) to finish fourth.

Another senior transfer, Caleb Parker, finished fourth in the high jump to account for the Noles’ final points of the day.

Senior Dante Newberg capped off his first heptathlon in two seasons with a solid second day, finishing fifth with 4,783 points for second-team All-ACC honors.

Whether the Noles men can hold off their challengers and hoist a third consecutive ACC Championship trophy will rest with a group of finals qualifiers who did plenty of heavy lifting Friday.

FSU advanced four men, including the top three seeds, to the finals of Saturday’s opening 60-meter hurdles. Trey Cunningham set up his pursuit of a record third consecutive title by qualifying first in 7.65, with senior Braxton Canady securing an NCAA berth with a lifetime-best (7.70) as the second seed, followed by Parker and Tyricke Highman, who is seeded sixth enter the finals.

The sprint tandem of sophomore Jhevaughn Matherson and Taylor Banks locked down the Nos. 3-4 seeds in both the 60- and 200-meter finals. Matherson dropped personal-bests of 6.61 and 21.10, while Banks followed up his 6.64 with a 21.24 in his first 200 of the season.

The longer sprint duo of DaeQwan Butler and Kyle Fearrington dialed up personal-bests of 46.65 and 47.09 in the 400 – Nos. 5 and tied for ninth on FSU’s all-time list – to qualify second and fifth, respectively.

Grad transfer Kasey Knevelbaard and senior Bert Freire carried the middle distance banner. Knevelbaard cruised to the second-fastest time in the mile (4:02.88), while Freire will compete in his first 800 final after dropping a 1:51.51.

“It was great to see Bert finally make the final in his senior year,” Braman said. “He battled hard and executed to perfection. He has a chance to put some key points on the board and in event that has three Virginia Tech qualifiers.”

To no one’s surprise, junior Ka’Tia Seymour was the star of the qualifying show for the women. Winner of the last two ACC Championship Track MVP awards, she qualified first in both the 60 (7.23) and 200 (23.20), and will have a chance to double-repeat and potentially win a record third consecutive MVP award. In the process, Seymour also moved up to No. 11 on the national qualifying list in the 60.

“Ka’Tia was on top of her game and looked like her usual dominant self,” Braman said.

Seymour will be joined in the two sprint finals by junior classmate Jayla Kirkland. Senior Janae Caldwell authored the No. 4 400-meter dash time in program history (53.37), qualifying second for the final. Junior Maudie Skyring ran tactically perfect to automatically qualify for her third consecutive mile final in an energy-conserving 4:46.96.

“Janae’s lifetime best puts her in great position for the final and Maudie was in total control and she’ll be in the mix to win tomorrow,” Braman said.

In addition to the qualifiers, the Noles will look to cash in on scoring opportunities in the men’s and women’s triple jump, shot put and 3,000-meter, the women’s pole vault and the final event – for both genders – the 4×400 relay.

FSU swimming and diving

The No. 14 Florida State men’s swimming and diving team powered to the podium in the 400 medley relay after sophomore Izaak Bastian won bronze in the 100 breast on Friday night at the ACC Championships at the Greensboro Aquatic Center.

In the 400 medley relay, the team of senior Griffin Alaniz, Bastian, sophomore Max McCusker and freshman Peter Varjasi clocked an NCAA automatic time of 3:05.62, winning the silver medal.

FSU was in a tight race for second along with NC State and Virginia as McCusker handed the anchor leg to Varjasi. Heading into the final turn, Varjasi was even with both teams until the final 10 yards when he dug deep and surged to the finish, putting the Noles on the podium in the race for the first time since 2014.

“We had a good evening,” FSU head coach Neal Studd said. “Capping it off by winning silver in the relay was amazing. We had a lot of best times today and fast swims. We’re excited for tomorrow. I’m happy for Max and Izaak tonight. They had great individuals and then along with Griff and a stellar anchor swim from our super freshman Peter.”

Working out of lane eight in his second career championship final, Bastian went out with the top swimmers in the field and held on to take third place with a career best of 52.36, which was just off the school record set by Jason Coombs at 52.11 in 2015.

His bronze is the first individual medal of his career, after winning silver in the 200 medley relay on Wednesday and bronze in the event in 2019.

Alaniz swam in his second career ACC backstroke A final, holding his seed out of prelims in the 100 back (46.30) in order to place seventh at 46.78.

McCusker swam a personal best in the 100 fly, holding his ninth place seed, touching at 45.97 after clocking a 46.23 this morning. The performance moves him up to fifth on the FSU all-time top 10 list.

Freshman Nick Vance moved up from 21st (3:52.18) and finished 19th overall in the 400 IM behind a season best swim of 3:50.12. He remains in fifth place in school history with that performance.

The Seminoles had five swimmers make it back in finals in the 200 free, paced by Varjasi, who came back on the final 50 yards in order to win the consolation heat with a time of 1:34.17.

FSU softball

Back on the diamond for the first time in nearly two weeks, the Seminoles split their two games on day one of the 2020 Wooo Pig Classic. No. 8 Florida State (8-5) dropped a close game with No. 19 Baylor (16-2) by a score of 2-1, before posting an 11-1 victory over Kent State (7-4) to close out the day.

“It was nice to get back out on the field and play again,” said FSU coach Lonni Alameda. “We are still working on a few things, but pleased with how we came back in game two against Kent State. Caylan pitched really well against Baylor in the morning, but we weren’t take advantage of our opportunities offensively. Excited to come back out tomorrow and make some adjustments.

Game 1: No. 19 Baylor 2, No. 8 Florida State 1

Baylor opened the scoring in the top of the first as a walk and a double put runners on second and third with one out for the Bears. A sacrifice fly to right field by Josie Bower gave Baylor an early 1-0 lead. 

The Bears added another run in the top of the third inning as a leadoff walk by Alyssa Avalos and a two-out double by Aliyah Pritchett made it 2-0.

Florida State had runners on base in each of the first four innings on singles by Kiersten Landers, Cassidy Davis, Sydney Sherrill and Elizabeth Mason, along with walks by Devyn Flaherty and Dani Morgan, but the Noles were unable to get beyond second base until the bottom of the fifth inning.

Landers reached on a Baylor fielding error with one out in the fifth and stole second base for her sixth SB of the season. Sherrill lined an RBI double to left center to cut the BU lead to 2-1. It marked her 50th career double, which moved her into a tie with Jessica van der Linden (2001-04) for third-most in FSU history.

Six of the final seven FSU batters were retired as the Seminole comeback came up short.

Caylan Arnold (2-2) pitched well, despite taking the loss on Friday. The senior allowed two runs on five hits with just two walks and a season-high 11 strikeouts. It marked the third-most strikeouts in her career, trailing a pair of 13-strikeout performances in 2018 while at Tennessee.

Game 2: No. 8 Florida State 11, Kent State 1

A pair of doubles from FSU freshmen put the Seminoles on the board in the top of the second inning against Kent State. Flaherty drew a walk and stole second, while Josie Muffley was hit by a pitch with two outs. Kaia LoPreste opened the scoring with a two-run double to the wall in left center, and Landers brought her in with an RBI double of her own, as FSU staked an early 3-0 lead.

The Noles added two more in the top of the third as Morgan led off with a single, stole second and eventually scored on an RBI groundout by Mason. Flaherty followed with a solo home run to right center, hitting the first pitch of her AB out of the park for her third round-tripper of the season to push the Seminole lead to 5-0.

Consecutive singles in the bottom of the third inning put Kent State runners on the corners with nobody out. FSU starting pitcher Kathryn Sandercock struck out the next two batters and got out of the inning with a groundout to second base.

The Golden Flashes got on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning with a solo home run by Brenna Brownfield.

Sherrill reached on an error by the Kent State RF and got all the way to third base to begin the top of the fifth, before scoring on an RBI groundout by Davis to make it 6-1 Seminoles.

Flaherty drew her second walk in the top of the sixth and also stole her second base of the game to move into scoring position. It didn’t matter which base she was on, as she scored on Morgan Noah’s first home run of the season, a towering shot to right field to extend the Seminole lead to 8-1.

Sherrill walked to begin the top of the seventh and was pinch-run for by Maegan Tomlinson. Tomlinson stole second and Kaley Mudge followed with a walk. Davis lined a two-run double to left center and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Flaherty for the 11-1 final score.

Brianna Enter pitched the final inning for the Noles and allowed just one baserunner on a walk to close out the game. Sandercock improved to 4-1 on the year, scattering three hits and one run over 6.0 innings, along with zero walks and a career-high six strikeouts. She retired 12 of the last 13 batters she faced on the afternoon.

The Seminoles will play two more games in the Wooo Pig Classic on Saturday, taking on Baylor at 11 a.m., and finishing with No. 21 Arkansas at 5:45 p.m.

FSU women’s tennis

The second-ranked Florida State women’s tennis team (12-2) got the weekend started with a 6-1 win over Florida Gulf Coast (4-5) on Friday.

The Noles captured the doubles point with ease as junior Petra Hule and freshman Victoria Allen earned a 6-1 win on court one. Junior Emmanuelle Salas and freshman Sasha Hill capped off the doubles point with a 6-2 win on court three. Seniors Nandini Das and Andrea Garcia were up 4-3 but did not finish.

Hule took her momentum from the doubles match into singles dominating her opponent to a 6-1, 6-2 win on court two. Allen quickly gave the Garnet and Gold a 3-0 lead with her impressive performance on court five. The freshman followed in Hule’s footsteps, taking the first set 6-1 and the second 6-2.

Salas went on to clinch the match for her seventh dual match win of the spring. The first set started close before she pulled ahead 3-2 and then went on to win 6-2. The second set was back and forth but at 3-2 Salas turned it on to win three of the final four games to take the second set 6-3 and clinch the match.

With the match already in hand, Garcia and Hill extended the Seminole lead. Garcia finished first winning the first set 6-2. In the second set, she fell behind but fought her way back to take the set 7-5, giving the Seminoles a 5-0 lead. Hill extended the lead to six with a win on court five. She took the first set 6-2 and battled in the second on her way to a 7-6 (1) win.

Das capped off the morning on court three. She lost the first set 6-4 before taking the second set 6-2. In the third set superbreaker Das would fall 10-6.

The Seminoles are back at it on Sunday at 4 p.m. against No. 5 Ohio State. That match will be played at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona, Fla. The match will be broadcast live on the Tennis Channel.

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