DES MOINES, Iowa -- The LSU track and field teams took another big step in their quest to be crowned this year’s national champion on Thursday by adding seven more qualifiers into NCAA finals on the second day of the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
The teams have now combined for an impressive total of 15 event finalists over the course of two days of competition at Jim Duncan Track at Drake Stadium.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers will have their first opportunity to score points at the NCAA meet on Friday as a total of nine finalists will line up with the chance to put LSU on the scoreboard.
“I think the farther you get into the meet, the muddier it seems to get,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “We’ve advanced about everybody that I thought we would advance into finals at this track meet except maybe the men’s 4x400 relay. We’ve even added a few extra qualifiers that maybe I wasn’t so sure about. That just illustrates the way the teams have competed to this point.
“What makes this meet so hard to predict right now is that the other contenders are qualifying all their people into the finals just like we are. It’s still anybody’s ballgame at this point, and I’m not sure it’s going to be settled until the 4x400 relays are run on the last day of the track meet.”
Junior Nickiesha Wilson was LSU’s only athlete to advance into a final that will be contested on Friday as she clocked the fastest time in the semifinal of the 400-meter hurdles at 55.89 seconds. She will look to dethrone returning champion Nicole Leach of UCLA (55.98) for this year’s title.
In addition to her outstanding performance in the 400 hurdles, Wilson qualified for the semifinal round of the 100 hurdles to be held Friday with the second-fastest time of the day at 12.95.
“Nickiesha has just been a workhorse for us all year long, and she’s proving once again why she is one of the elite dual hurdlers in the country,” Shaver said. “I’m very pleased with the way she’s running the rounds and getting through the races. She still looks a bit rusty while running the 400 hurdles, but that’s to be expected with so few races under her belt this year. I’m confident that she will pull it all together in what is sure to be an epic race tomorrow night.”
After qualifying for the final in the 100-meter dash on Wednesday, senior Kelly Baptiste and sophomore Samantha Henry advanced to the final of the 200-meter dash by finishing second in their respective semifinal heats on Thursday evening.
Henry qualified for the 200-meter final at the NCAA Outdoor Championships for the second year in a row with the fourth-fastest semifinal time of the day at 23.04, while Baptiste followed with the sixth-fastest qualifying time of the semifinal round at 23.20.
“It was important for both of us to get through in the 200 today because it was a very competitive field. I’m just relieved that both of us made it through,” Henry said. “I’m also glad that I was able to make it through in both the 100 and the 200 because I don’t know if I was predicted to do that. It’s a great feeling to be in a position to score points for my team.”
The Lady Tigers added two more finalists on the day as sophomore LaTavia Thomas advanced to the finals of the 800 meters with the fourth-fastest time of the day at 2 minutes, 4.17 seconds.
In addition, Thomas also ran the third leg on the women’s 4x400-meter relay team that carried the stick around the track with the second-fastest preliminary time of the day at 3:31.21. She teamed with seniors Brooklynn Morris, Juanita Broaddus and Deonna Lawrence to qualify for Saturday’s final, which will be the final event on the track at this year’s meet.
While the women put themselves in a position to score big points on the weekend, the men did the same on Thursday as senior Richard Thompson qualified for the final round of the 200-meter dash and senior Elkana Kosgei advanced to the final of the 800-meter run.
Thompson crossed the finish line with the fourth-fastest 200-meter time of the day at 20.62, while Kosgei was the seventh-fastest qualifier into the 800 final at 1:47.88. Thompson is also scheduled to run in the final of the 100 meters on Friday.
The final rounds of the 200 meters, 800 meters and 4x400-meter relay will be held on meet’s final day as the Tigers and Lady Tigers hope to score big points in each event on Saturday.
“I just thank God that I made it through these two days injury free,” Thompson said. “I feel very good and am ready to go again tomorrow. My plan coming in was just to run smart through all of my rounds and finish in the top two (of the 200) so I could get a lane in the middle of the track in the final. I’ve prepared myself mentally for this coming in because I knew the schedule and that I would be running a lot of races this week. I’m ready to go again tomorrow.”
In addition to the seven finalists that LSU added during Thursday’s competition, the squads also qualified four athletes into Friday’s semifinal round of the sprint hurdles as Jessica Ohanaja (13.04) and Angel Boyd (13.40) will join Wilson in the semifinal of the 100-meter hurdles, while Ryan Fontenot (13.64) earned a spot in the semifinal of the men’s 110-meter hurdles.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers will have their first opportunities to score points at this year’s NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships during Friday’s competition as the action kicks off for LSU at 1 p.m. with sophomore Preston Chatham in the final of the men’s javelin. Live results for the final two days of the NCAA meet can be found online at www.flashresults.com.
2008 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships Results
Thursday at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa (All race distances in meters)
1. Shadrack Songok, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 28:46.69; 2. Shawn Forrest, Arkansas, 28:47.08; 3. Tyson David, Alabama, 28:49.76; 4. Jacob Korir, Eastern Kentucky, 28:49.92; 5. Seth Pilkington, Weber State, 28:51.81; 6. Sean Quigley, La Salle, 29:03.27; 7. Jeremy Johnson, New Mexico, 29:06.13; 8. Japheth Ng’ojoy, UTEP, 29:07.08.
1. Ngonidzashe Makusha, Florida State, 27-2 ¾; 2. Matt Turner, Arizona State, 26-3 ½; 3. Julian Reid, Texas A&M, 25-11; 4. Elvie Williams, Idaho, 25-7 ½; 5. Gary Lee, Fresno State, 25-7 ½; 6. Norris Frederick, Washington, 25-6 ¾; 7. Cadeau Kelley, Akron, 25-5 ¼; 8. Kiwan Lawson, Indiana, 25-4 ¾.
1. Ashton Eaton, Oregon, 8,055; 2. Jangy Addy, Tennessee, 7,916; 3. Gonzalo Barriolhet, Florida State, 7,907; 4. Nick Adcock, Missouri, 7,612; 5. Chris Richardson, Long Beach State, 7,594; 6. Raven Cepeda, Northern Iowa, 7,581; 7. Lars Rise, Missouri, 7,534; 8. Rickey Moody, Washington State, 7,477.
TEAM STANDINGS (3 events scored)
1. Florida State, 16; t2. Oregon, 10; t2. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 10; t4. Arkansas, 8; t4. Tennessee, 8; t4. Arizona State, 8; 7. Missouri, 7; t8. Texas A&M, 6; t8. Alabama, 6; t10. Idaho, 5; t10. Eastern Kentucky, 5.
1. Lisa Koll, Iowa State, 32:44.95; 2. Danette Doetzel, Providence, 33:44.23; 3. Alexandra Gits, Stanford, 33:49.73; 4. Marisa Ryan, Boston, 33:54.38; 5. Katrina Rundhaug, Wisconsin, 34:00.62; 6. Meghan Armstrong, Iowa, 34:01.87; 7. Morgan Haws, Weber State, 34:05.56; 8. Racheal Marchand, Iowa, 34:05.87.
1. Brittney Reese, Ole Miss, 22-9; 2. Natasha Harvey, Jacksonville, 21-10; 3. Blessing Okagbare, UTEP, 21-7 ½; 4. Erica McClain, Stanford, 21-6 ¼; 5. Gayle Hunter, Penn State, 21-4 ¾; 6. Janay DeLoach, Colorado State, 21-3 ¼; 7. Bianca Stuart, Southern Illinois, 21-2 ¾; 8. Shara Proctor, Florida, 20-10 ½.
TEAM STANDINGS (2 events scored)
1. Stanford, 11; t2. Ole Miss, 10; t2. Iowa State, 10; t4. Providence, 8; t4. Jacksonville, 8; 6. UTEP, 6; 7. Boston, 5; t8. Wisconsin, 4; t8. Iowa, 4; t8. Penn State, 4.