Florida State grabs top program award
Chelanga ties Liberty mark with 14th All-America honor
The Florida State men didn’t break Texas A&M’s streak at the NCAA outdoor championships, but it did stop another that is just as satisfying.
The Seminoles’ men’s program has won this year’s USTFCCCA’s John McDonnell Program of the Year Award. The award, in its third year, had been won the previous two academic years by Oregon – which has swept the women’s award all three years.
The award is given to an institution that had the best combined team finishes in each of the NCAA cross country and track and field championships in a given academic year. During the past academic year, FSU finished fifth at the indoor championships and was runner up at the cross country championships and outdoor championships. FSU was the only program in the country to record top-five national finishes at each of the championships in the year.
The disappointment of leading in points going into the final event at the just completed outdoor championships, and not having a mile relay team to compete in it is still fresh with head coach Bob Braman. But this award goes a long way in salving the wounds.
“Absolutely it does. No question about it,” Braman said of the honor. “[Former Arkansas coach] John McDonnell is a legend. It is an incredible honor to be associated with that kind of excellence. It says something since we split our scholarships in thirds across the three seasons. Ninety percent of the programs don’t do it that way, and that’s their prerogative. I’m just real proud of the kids and real proud of the coaches.”
Need to Know
• Florida State’s Ngoni Makusha and Florida’s Will Claye are the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s 2011 NCAA Division I National Men’s Athletes of the Year for outdoor track & field. Makusha, a junior from Zimbabwe, became only the fourth man in NCAA Division I history, and the first since 1981, to win national titles in the 100 meters and long jump in the same NCAA championships. Two of the others who have accomplished that feat are Jesse Owens and Carl Lewis.
Makusha won the national 100-meter crown in a collegiate- and championships-record 9.89 seconds, topping the 1996 record of UCLA’s Ato Boldon (9.92). The time, also a new record for his native country Zimbabwe, ranks No. 4 in the world for the 2011 season. Makusha, who announced this week he was turning pro, also won the 100 meters at the ACC Championships in a wind-aided time of 9.97.
Claye, a junior from Phoenix, Ariz., had an outstanding campaign. He finished second in the triple jump and third in the long jump nationally with a pair of world-class performances. Claye executed four jumps more than 56 feet and two wind-aided leaps of longer than 57 feet at the national championships. Claye’s best jump of the series, a wind-aided, final-attempt leap went 57-9 3/4 (17.62m) and has only been bettered twice in collegiate history. In the long jump, Claye was third at the NCAA meet with a best of 26-11 (8.20m).
At the SEC Championships, Claye won titles in both events, the first person to do since 2004, with a season’s best long jump of 27-2 1/2 (8.29m) and a wind-aided triple jump best of 56-6 3/4 (17.24m).
• Now it’s permanent. Mike Turk, an assistant coach at Illinois since 2006, has been named head coach of the men's track and field program. Turk spent two years as interim head coach while also coaching the jumps, throws and multi-events. He led the Illini to the program's best finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 23 years during the 2011 season. The Illini tied for 12th overall, marking the highest finish by an Illini squad since placing seventh in 1988.
• Texas A&M won the men’s 4x400 relay in 3:00.62 to secure the Aggies’ third consecutive team title. They entered the final event nine points behind then-leader Florida State (54), which was not in the race. Florida, in second place at the time with 50 points, placed sixth in the 4×400 to gain three points for a team total of 53. LSU was second in the 4×400 in 3:01.07.
• Sam Chelanga, a redshirt senior and 14-time All-American, ended his Liberty career with the men’s 5,000 meters title at the national championships. Chelanga’s winning time (13:29.30) was a season-best and was the first at that distance for the Kenyan. He had been the runner-up in the event four times, including last year’s outdoor 5,000 meters and this year’s indoor race. His All-American honors match former Liberty distance standout Josh McDougal, who also collected 14 awards during his career (2004-08).
• Matt Centrowitz gave Oregon a victory in the 1,500 meters. Centrowitz finished in 3:42.54 and earned the Ducks back-to-back NCAA titles in the 1,500 meters. Andrew Wheating won for the Ducks in 2010.
• Florida junior Christian Taylor won the men’s triple jump with a best leap of 58-4 3/4 (17.80m), followed by teammate Will Claye (57-9 3/4, 17.62m). Both marks were wind-aided, but each had allowable marks in the event that topped the previous Drake Stadium record.