FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- The top-ranked LSU men’s track and field team has gotten off to a fast start at the 2008 NCAA Mideast Regional Championships as three Tiger throwers earned NCAA automatic qualifying marks during Friday’s action at John McDonnell Field.
Junior Ricky Jean-Francois (shot put), junior Chad Radgowski (javelin) and sophomore Preston Chatham (javelin) each earned the right to compete at the national meet on Friday afternoon after qualifying automatically with top-five finishes in their respective events.
Athletes earn automatic qualification into the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships by finishing in the top five of an individual event in NCAA regional competition.
Jean-Francois kicked off the afternoon by automatically qualifying for the NCAA Championships with a fourth-place finish in the shot put after uncorking a throw of 58 feet, 4 inches on his fourth attempt of the competition and first attempt in the final round.
Jean-Francois is no stranger to winning national championships as he led the LSU football team to a 38-24 victory over Ohio State in the 2008 BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 7 while being named the game’s Most Outstanding Player on the defensive side of the ball.
He will look to do the same in track and field in two weeks as this marks the first time in his LSU career that Jean-Francois will compete in the shot put at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Chatham and Radgowski followed Jean-Francois’ performance by taking second and third in the javelin throw, respectively. Chatham unleashed a throw of 224-6 on his final attempt and Radgowski posted a mark of 220-4 on his fifth throw of the competition as the duo will make an appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships for the second year in a row.
The trio racked up 22 points to put the Tigers in second in the team standings after the first day of competition as they currently trail the 24 points scored by Auburn.
“The one word that I would use to sum up what we did today is solid,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “Our kids competed very well today, and I thought the performance of our throwers was evidence of that. Ricky was outstanding today, and our javelin guys did what they needed to do to get back to the NCAA meet for the second year in a row.
“Those are three legit scoring opportunities we now have at the NCAA meet that we did not have coming into the weekend. I’m proud of them for coming through for our men’s team today.”
Not only did LSU send three of its athletes to the NCAA Championships on the first day of the competition, but the Tigers and Lady Tigers put themselves in a good position to add many more NCAA qualifiers during Saturday’s final-round action by combining for an impressive total of 27 qualifiers in Friday’s prelims.
Senior sprinter Richard Thompson led the Tigers’ effort as he clocked the third-fastest time in the prelims of 100 meters and the fastest time in the prelims of the 200 meters.
Thompson entered the meet as the NCAA’s No. 1 ranked sprinter in each event and advanced to Saturday’s final with a wind-aided time of 10.05 seconds in the 100 meters and a new wind-legal personal best time of 20.18 in the 200 meters. His new personal best in the 200 is the fifth-fastest time in the world this season and the second-fastest time in school history.
Joining Thompson in the finals of the 100-meter dash is the defending NCAA Mideast Regional champion Trindon Holliday, who qualified with a windy 10.07. Holliday also anchored the 4x100 relay to the third-fastest preliminary time of the day at 39.86.
Freshman Gabriel Mvumvure also automatically qualified for the final of the 200 meters by winning his preliminary heat with a seasonal best wind-aided time of 20.68.
Other Tigers who qualified for Saturday’s final-round action include Armanti Hayes (46.86) in the 400 meters, Elkana Kosgei (1:48.47) and Jamaal James (1:48.57) in the 800 meters, John Kosgei (3:46.62) in the 1,500 meters and Ryan Fontenot (13.89w) in the 110-meter hurdles.
The Lady Tigers will run with firepower of their own on Saturday as they advanced 17 qualifiers into the regional finals, including four in the 100-meter dash as Samantha Henry (11.04w), Kelly Baptiste (11.14w), Juanita Broaddus (11.27w) and Kenyanna Wilson (11.34w) were the top four qualifiers by virtue of winning their respective preliminary heats.
In addition, Baptiste (22.77w), Henry (22.90) and Broaddus (23.25w) also qualified for the final of the 200-meter dash after running on the Lady Tigers’ 4x100-meter relay team that clocked the fastest preliminary time of the day at 43.51.
Junior Nickiesha Wilson was the Lady Tigers’ top performer on Friday as she was the meet’s top qualifiers in both the 100-meter hurdles (12.78w) and 400-meter hurdles (55.82). Wilson’s 12.78 clocking in the 100 hurdles was with the help of a 5.3 meters-per-second tailwind, while her time of 55.82 in the 400 hurdles was a seasonal best.
The Lady Tigers also feature a pair finalists in both the 400 meters and 800 meters as Brooklynn Morris (53.20) and Deonna Lawrence (53.25) advanced to Saturday’s final in the 400 and Kayann Thompson (2:06.74) and LaTavia Thomas (2:08.72) qualified for the final of the 800.
“Both of our teams really had a great day of qualifying, and I’m proud of the way our athletes got the job done today,” Shaver said. “I can’t think of anyone who might be considered a projected scorer at the NCAA Championships that is out of the mix at this point. We advanced everybody through that we were supposed to today, and that just shows the competitiveness of our kids.
“The plan today was for our kids to do what they had to do to qualify. Now the goal is to finish in the top five and lock up a spot in the NCAA Championships.”
The action continues at the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships on Saturday with the field events scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. CDT followed by the first events on the track at 5 p.m. All athletes who earn the right to compete at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships will travel to Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa, to battle the nation’s best from June 11-14.
2008 NCAA Mideast Regional Championships Results
Friday at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville, Ark. (All race distances in meters)
1. Jacob Korir, Eastern Kentucky, 14:03.43; 2. Felix Kiboiywo, Auburn, 14:06.43; 3. Patrick Smyth, Notre Dame, 14:07.97; 4. Patrick Sovacool, Miami-Ohio, 14:12.84; 5. Emmanuel Bor, Alabama, 14:14.53; 6. James Strang, Arkansas, 14:15.67; 7. Joseph Maina, Eastern Kentucky, 14:16.65; 8. Michael Eaton, Louisville, 14:19.43.
1. Grant Lindsey, Kentucky, 7-2 ½; 2. Shamel Smith, Kent State, 6-11; 3. Brandon Fitch, Cincinnati, 6-11; 4. Adetayo Adesanya, Purdue, 6-11; t5. Jason House, Southern, 6-9; t5. Travis Brumm, Miami-Ohio, 6-9; t5. Lance Moe, Purdue, 6-9; t5. Xavier Clais, Eastern Michigan, 6-9; t5. Greg Shroka, Illinois, 6-9.
1. Bassett O’Darien, Troy, 26-0 ¾; 2. Alain Bailey, Arkansas, 26-0 ¾; 3. Rudon Bastian, Louisville, 25-11 ½; 4. Andre Black, Louisville, 25-9 ½; 5. Cadeau Kelley, Akron, 25-7 ½; 6. Kiwan Lawson, Indiana, 25-5 ¼; 7. John Berry, Southeast Missouri, 25-1 ¼; 8. Mychael Stewart, Arkansas, 25-0 ¾.
1. Cory Martin, Auburn, 65-9 ½; 2. Brenton Siemons, Southern Illinois, 59-7 ¾; 3. Eric Werskey, Auburn, 59-4 ¼; 4. Ricky Jean-Francois, LSU, 58-4; 5. Billy Hardcastle, Purdue, 57-11 ¾; 6. Derek McGuire, Ole Miss, 57-8 ½; 7. Evan Whiting, Kent State, 57-8 ¼; 8. Tyler Miller, Purdue, 57-5 ½.
1. Jeffrey Kent, UL-Monroe, 233-5; 2. Preston Chatham, LSU, 224-6; 3. Chad Radgowski, LSU, 220-4; 4. Larry Jones, Louisiana Tech, 219-4; 5. Luke Laird, Arkansas, 216-4; 6. Mark DeBlanc, LSU, 216-1; 7. Christian McDonald, Memphis, 212-11; 8. Matt Maloney, Tennessee, 211-4.
TEAM STANDINGS (5 events scored)
1. Auburn, 24; 2. LSU, 22; 3. Arkansas, 16; t4. Louisville, 12; t4. Purdue, 12; t4. Eastern Kentucky, 12; t7. Kentucky, 10; t7. Kent State, 10; t7. Troy, 10; t7. UL-Monroe, 10.
1. Angela Bizzarri, Illinois, 16:24.38; 2. Lauren Weaver, Belmont, 16:26.02; 3. Katrina Rundhaug, Wisconsin, 16:28.51; 4. Christine Kalmer, Arkansas, 16:30.52; 5. Betty Rotich, Alabama, 16:31.76; 6. Hollie Knight, Auburn, 16:42.62; 7. Lauren Blankenship, Samford, 16:42.98; 8. Holly Nearman, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 16:46.88.
1. Kylie Hutson, Indiana State, 13-11 ¾; 2. Brianna Neumann, Purdue, 13-7 ¾; 3. Brittnay Klima, Cincinnati, 13-7 ¾; t4. Mallory Peck, Purdue, 13-3 ¾; t4. Carrie Kayes, Akron, 13-3 ¾; t4. Jenny Soceka, Wisconsin, 13-3 ¾; 7. Mary Saxer, Notre Dame, 13-3 ¾; 8. Vera Neuenswander, Indiana, 13-3 ¾.
1. Brittney Reese, Ole Miss, 21-10 ¾; 2. Casey Taylor, Michigan, 21-1 ½; 3. Bianca Stuart, Southern Illinois, 21-1 ¼; 4. Marrissa Harris, Mississippi State, 21-0 ½; 5. Ashley May, Ole Miss, 20-11 ¼; 6. Amanda Barnhart, Ball State, 20-9 ¾; 7. Peter Gaye-Beckford, Arkansas, 20-7; 8. Wendy Copeland, Mississippi State, 20-5 ¼.
1. Annie Alexander, Tennessee, 183-10; 2. Astin Steward, Purdue, 176-0; 3. Jaclyn Espinoza, Notre Dame, 172-0; 4. Brittany Riley, Southern Illinois, 170-9; 5. Phelecia Reynolds, Louisiana Tech, 169-3; 6. Susan King, Memphis, 167-11; 7. Emilee Strot, Kentucky, 167-10; 8. Trecey Rew, Northwestern State, 164-6.
1. Stevi Large, Akron, 202-9; 2. Brittany Riley, Southern Illinois, 202-6; 3. Veronica Jatsek, Ohio State, 198-11; 4. ZeNai Savage, Louisville, 196-11; 5. Valentina Srsa, Auburn, 193-8; 6. Anna Weber, Notre Dame, 192-3; 7. Jere Summers, Louisville, 189-4; 8. Lindsey Cook, Louisville, 188-8.
TEAM STANDINGS (5 events scored)
1. Purdue, 20; 2. Southern Illinois, 19; 3. Akron, 14; 4. Notre Dame, 11; t5. Wisconsin, 10; t5. Indiana State, 10; t5. Illinois, 10; t5. Ole Miss, 10; t5. Tennessee, 10; t10. Michigan, 8; t10. Louisville, 8; t10. Belmont, 8.