BATON ROUGE -- Junior Rabun Fox led the Tigers’ effort on the first day of competition at the 2008 LSU Tiger Relays by unleashing a 12-foot personal best of 210 feet, 11 inches to win the hammer throw title Friday afternoon at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium.
Fox has gotten off to a fast start in the outdoor season after equaling his previous personal record with a regional qualifying mark of 198-11 in LSU’s season opener last weekend.
The junior from Houma, La., is showing no ill effects from a torn meniscus in his right knee that forced him to sit out the entire 2007 season. His effort ranks him No. 2 in the NCAA on the young season and moves him into the No. 3 spot on LSU’s all-time performance list in the event.
Fox was not the only LSU hammer thrower to shine early in the competition as sophomore Chris Bless set a new personal best by nearly 18 feet with a throw of 181-0 and freshman Ross Roubion improved his PR by exactly 23 feet with a mark of 164-0. Bless’s effort also cracked the school’s all-time Top 10 list as he moved himself into the No. 9 position.
“That was a great performance by Rabun this afternoon,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “He’s a guy who we want to see do really well this season because he’s come back strong from a pretty significant injury last season. He’s gotten off to a great start these last two weeks, and we hope he continues to improve to where he can help us in the postseason.
“I think next week at the Texas Relays will be a big test for him to really see where he’s at. He’s probably going to need that kind of a throw just to make it to the final.”
The LSU throwers continued to outdistance the field as the day’s events drew to a close. Junior putters Ricky Jean-Francois and Adam Wilcox posted their first NCAA regional qualifying marks of the season, while junior Anna Lyons improved her regional qualifying mark in the javelin.
Jean-Francois stepped into the shot put circle for the first time since wrapping up the indoor season at the LSU NCAA Indoor Qualifier on March 7 and uncorked a throw of 59-1 ¼ to win the event title. Wilcox posted a new personal best in the event with a fourth-place effort of 56-0 to qualify him for the regional meet for the first time in his career.
Lyons followed by winning the women’s javelin with a new PR of 158-8 on her first throw of the competition, which ranks her No. 5 on the school’s all-time performance list in the event.
“I thought the throws group as a whole had a really great day,” Shaver said. “Rabun threw really well, and Ricky’s performance was outstanding considering he’s been trying to balance this with football the last few weeks. He’s a guy that just knows how to compete.”
In addition to the performance by the LSU throwers, seven other Lady Tigers punched their ticket to the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships for the first time this season.
The Lady Tiger hurdlers led the way as junior Nickiesha Wilson clocked a wind-legal time of 13.26 seconds and senior Jessica Ohanaja crossed the finish line with a windy 13.33 in their outdoor debuts in the 100-meter hurdles. In addition, senior Angel Boyd and freshman Tenaya Jones improved their regional marks with wind-aided times of 13.04 and 13.70, respectively.
The foursome qualified for the final with the four fastest times during Friday’s preliminary action and will battle one another for the event title on Saturday afternoon.
“I thought our hurdlers also did a great job today, especially Angel Boyd with it being this early in the season,” Shaver said. “The question now is whether or not they can run faster tomorrow than they did today when they’re in a more competitive race. That will be true test of what kind of competitive spirit they have when they line up against one another.”
Like their teammates in the 100-meter hurdles, four Lady Tigers qualified for Saturday’s final in the 100-meter dash with junior Monique Cabral (11.54w), sophomore Kristina Davis (11.67w) and Boyd (11.71) clocking their first NCAA regional qualifying times of the young season. Frosh Kenyanna Wilson was the fastest Lady Tiger of the day with an improved time of 11.50.
Sophomore Katelyn Rodrigue and senior Kathy Coleman saw their first action of the outdoor season following appearances in the NCAA Indoor Championships and added their names to the Lady Tiger’s regional roster in the pole vault and long jump, respectively.
Rodrigue won the women’s pole vault competition as she opened up with a clearance of 13-1 ½, while Coleman finished third in the long jump with a regional qualifying mark of 19-10 ¼.
In all, the Tigers and Lady Tigers combined for nine new NCAA regional qualifiers, five improved regional qualifiers and five athletes who enjoyed personal best performances on Friday.
“It was good to see everybody on the track for the first time,” Shaver said. “Many of our athletes opened up for the first time today, and I was pleased with how they took care of business in their first competition of the outdoor season. We prepared ourselves well in the week leading up to the meet, and I think that showed today. We need to continue that tomorrow.”
And true to the theme of the weekend, LSU dominated the relays on the first day of the meet as the teams combined to win three of four relay titles. The men swept titles in the 4x800 and sprint medley relays, while the women ran away with the sprint medley relay themselves.
The Lady Tiger foursome of sophomore Samantha Henry (200 meters), senior Kelly Baptiste (200 meters), senior Deonna Lawrence (400 meters) and freshman Brittany Hall (800 meters) was the winner in the sprint medley relay with the 10th-fastest time in school history at 3:47.55.
The LSU Tiger Relays continues Saturday with the field events at 11 a.m. CDT followed by the first events on the track at 1:43 p.m. The Tigers and Lady Tigers will follow with their annual trip to Austin, Texas, to compete in the 81st Texas Relays at Mike A. Myers Stadium from April 3-5.
LSU’s Qualifiers for the 2008 NCAA Mideast Regional Championships (as of March 28, 2008)
Athlete, Event, Time/Mark
Preston Chatham, Javelin, 220-11
Reggie Dardar, 400 meters, 46.85
Ryan Fontenot, 110 hurdles, 13.68
Rabun Fox, Hammer Throw, 210-11
Armanti Hayes, 200 meters, 21.28
Ricky Jean-Francois, Shot Put, 59-1 ¼
Patrick Lee, 110 hurdles, 14.29
Gabriel Mvumvure, 100 meters, 10.37
Gabriel Mvumvure, 200 meters, 21.23
Chad Radgowski, Javelin, 213-6
Adam Wilcox, Shot Put, 56-0
Athlete, Event, Time/Mark
Angel Boyd, 100 meters, 11.71
Angel Boyd, 100 hurdles, 13.04w
Monique Cabral, 100 meters, 11.54w
Brittani Carter, High Jump, 5-8 ¾
Kathy Coleman, Long Jump, 19-10 ¼
Kristina Davis, 100 meters, 11.67w
Brittany Hall, 400 meters, 54.26
Tenaya Jones, 100 hurdles, 13.70w
Deonna Lawrence, 400 meters, 53.44
Anna Lyons, Javelin, 158-8
Brooklynn Morris, 400 meters, 53.29
Jessica Ohanaja, 100 hurdles, 13.33w
Katelyn Rodrigue, Pole Vault, 13-1 ½
Kim Williams, Hammer Throw, 183-0
Kenyanna Wilson, 100 meters, 11.50
Nickiesha Wilson, 100 hurdles, 13.26
Boyd, Cabral, Davis, Wilson; 4x100-meter relay; 44.67
Hall, Broaddus, Thompson, Lawrence; 4x400-meter relay; 3:38.71