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Florida State teammates freshman Marvin Bracy and junior Dentarius Locke traded top times through the first two qualifying rounds of the 60-meter dash at the Tyson Invitational Friday, setting up a much-anticipated final at the Randal Tyson Track Complex.
The duo didn't disappoint.
Bracy laid down the fastest collegiate time of the 2013 indoor season, winning in a Florida State school record of 6.54 seconds, with Locke right on his hip in second at 6.56. Bracy's time is the fourth-fastest in the world this season and tied for the United States lead with 2012 Olympian Mike Rogers. Locke now boasts the second-fastest collegiate time in the country, which ranks sixth in the world and third in the U.S.
"I got out pretty well," Bracy said of the final. "I was leading the whole race and I just saw him (Locke) coming out of the corner of my eye; I saw him pushing and I was able to hold him off."
In the process, Bracy broke Maurice Mitchell's two-year old school record of 6.55. The victory, his second in as many meets, has the freshman from Orlando quite excited about where he's headed just six rounds into his collegiate career.
"I'm actually am (ahead of schedule)," Bracy said afterward. "I had it in my mind to run 6.55 here two weeks ago." Instead he settled for the win in 6.61 at the Razorback Invitational, then went back to work on campus with his every day training partner, Locke. From the start of the rounds, the day shaped up to be a special one.
Locke, competing in his first season for the 'Noles, dropped a career-best time of 6.63 in the preliminary round. edging Bracy who won his heat in 6.64.
"I was kind of shocked; kind of surprised," Locke said, after bettering his previous season best of 6.67. "It felt good just to get in that area. "I was so focused on executing the semis were easier."
Bracy came right back in the semifinals, blazing to an NCAA-leading time of 6.57 for the heat win, while Locke lowered his preliminary round mark with a 6.61 to win the second semifinal heat.
"When I saw he (Locke) ran 6.63 and I ran 6.64, I just felt like we were both getting better," Bracy said. "I felt like I had so much more to leave out on the track. I was just chilling and got faster each round."
After trading blows through the rounds, the two were anxious to test their boundaries in the final. Buoyed by the confidence he gained through the rounds, Locke was more than pleased to walk away from the night with the nation's second-fastest time.
"I train with one of the best sprinters in the country, so it makes it easier for me to focus on what I've got to do," Locke said. "Practicing with him and running with him - he was next to me (in the finals) - so it made it feel like it was practice."
Associate head coach Ken Harnden could not have been more pleased with the way his two sprint stars handled their business against a quality field, which included seven of the 10 fastest 60-meter runners this season at the collegiate level. "They handled it really well," Harnden said. "They executed. They were really coachable today. ... They did a really good job of controlling everything and taking the race by the scruff of the neck and saying, `It's mine.' I'm really proud of those guys."
While Bracy's star continues to shine, Locke's performance may have been even more important. The transfer from Tennessee has had to sit out two of his first three seasons on the college level and is just now beginning to show the form that led him to the Florida high school state 100-meter dash record as a senior at Tampa Chamberlain. Coincidentally, Bracy broke Locke's state mark as a high school sophomore at Orlando's Boone high school.
"When you think about it, it's only Locke's second year of collegiate track & field, so he's really young (competitively)," Harnden said. "That's pretty special. And Bracy, to do what he's done in his second meet is pretty special. ...
"Locke needed this in order to trust what we do in practice every day. I think Bracy is at that point in his life and his career where it's all good." Several other Seminoles turned in impressive Friday performances at meet as well. Sophomore Stefan Brits was the runner-up in the invitational section of the long jump with an all-time indoor best of 7.72 meters (25-4), which leads the Atlantic Coast Conference and ranks eighth nationally.
"Stefan jumped really well," Harnden said. "It's an indoor PR and it's very close to an outdoor PR, which is big for him. He's been battling this injury and not been practicing as much as we'd like to but he got out there and competed and he was in there with the big dogs."
Junior Elizabeth Ichite bettered her previous indoor personal-best in the 400-meter dash, racing to victory in her heat with a time of 54.87. It was the ninth-best time in the field of 61 competitors - eighth among collegians - and obliterated her previous indoor best of 56.13.
"Liz ran really well in a pretty good field, early in the day after a long trip last night," Harnden added. "I'm really happy with her race. There's more there. I was really excited about that."
Redshirt freshman pole vaulter Karly Jackson also recorded a new personal-best, clearing 3.70 meters (12-1.50) on her second attempt, which was good enough for a share of fifth place in the collegiate division. Jackson came into the meet with a personal-best of 11-8.50.
The action was not reserved for the Tyson Invitational. At the Husky Invitational on the University of Washington campus, senior Kayleigh Tyerman whacked 14 seconds off her previous personal best in the 5000-meter run, placing 15th in a loaded field with a time of 16.12.17.
FSU will be back in action Saturday in three different locations, with the sprinters and jumpers competing at Tyson and the distance runners going at it in Seattle, Wash. A group of two dozen Seminoles will also begin competition at the Samford Invitational meet in Birmingham.
Chris Nee of 247Sports.com. You can follow me on twitter @CNee247.
Locke and bract might be the top two 60m guys in America. Awesome that they get to push each other daily. Look for 6.51 range in the future
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