TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – On the heels of outstanding seasons, Florida State track & field junior Dentarius Locke and freshman Sage Watson have claimed two of the six major postseason awards presented by the Atlantic Coast Conference, following a vote of the league’s coaches.
Locke, who closed the 2013 season with the fastest legal 100-meter dash time in the nation (9.97) and was the runner-up in the event at last week’s NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., has been selected the ACC Men’s Track Performer of the Year.
“Dentarius had an incredible first season for us,” Florida State coach Bob Braman said. “He was instrumental in leading us to victory at the ACC Championship meet and continued to improve. He has a chance to be one of the fastest – if not the fastest – sprinters in FSU history.”
Watson, who placed 12th at the NCAA Championship meet in the 400-meter hurdles and also starred for the Seminoles on the 4x400 relay and the 400 dash, has been selected ACC Women’s Freshman of the Year.
“Sage stepped right in and led our sprint/hurdles group,” Braman said. “She showed no fear and took the ACC by storm. Placing 12th at the NCAA Championship meet is no small feat for a freshman and a great start to a promising career.”
A redshirt junior transfer from Tennessee, Locke has made the most in his return to the competitive collegiate ranks for the first time since 2011. The Tampa native was named Most Outstanding Track Performer at the ACC Championship meet when he won the 100 (10.05), helped the Seminoles to the 4x100 title and placed second in the 200 as FSU won the team title. From there he qualified for the NCAA Championship meet in the 100 and 4x100 from the East Preliminary.
In the finals at historic Hayward Field, Locke and TCU’s Charles Silmon hooked up to lead the fastest all-conditions 100-meter final in NCAA Championship history. Silmon edged Locke at the finish line as they crossed in 9.89 and 9.91, respectively, in the wind-aided showdown. Locke’s 9.97 in the semifinal round heat victory at the NCAA Championship was just under the legal wind limit and ranked tied for fifth-fastest in the world at the time. It also ranks No. 4 in Florida State history.
He also helped the Seminoles reach the finals of the 4x100 meter relay with a season-best semifinal round time of 39.14. Locke actually had the ‘Noles out in front after his second leg in the finals, but a pulled hamstring by teammate Stefan Brits forced FSU to finish eighth for his second first-team All-American honor of the meet.
Watson, a native of Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, topped off a remarkable freshman season by qualifying for the NCAA Championship meet in the 400-meter hurdles. The versatile standout was the runner-up in her specialty at the ACC Championship meet and then ran a leg on the 4x400 relay team as the Seminole women finished second. Her season-best time of 58.20 – which she ran at the Texas Relay and later matched at the Florida Relays – ranked 16th against the NCAA Championship field in Eugene.
Her season-best time is the fastest in the 400 hurdles by a Seminole since 2006 and ranks 10th in Florida State history.
The pair join impressive lists of former Seminoles to grab similar ACC honors.
Locke is the eight Seminole runner to claim Performer of the Year honors – the seventh in the last nine years – joining Maurice Mitchell (2011, 2012), Charles Clark (2009), Walter Dix (2007), Ricardo Chambers (2006), Tom Lancashire (2005) and Philip Riley (1994).
Watson is the fourth FSU woman to claim Freshman of the Year honors, following Kimberly Williams (2008), Lydia Willemse (2006) and Laura Bowerman (2005).