DES MOINES, Iowa – The LSU track and field teams made their presence felt early and often during Friday’s action at the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships as the squads combined to win four NCAA event titles on the third day of competition at Drake Stadium.
The squads also scored their first points of the meet as both the Tigers and Lady Tigers wrapped up the day in second place in the team standings with 31 points each.
The defending NCAA Outdoor champions lead both races for this year’s national championship as the Arizona State Sun Devils scored a total of 36 points on the day to sit atop the women’s standings, while the Florida State Seminoles are out in front in the men’s race with 32 points.
“Our teams have performed very well at this track meet, and I thought they competed very well for the third straight day,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “It’s like I tell the kids, we have to treat each day like a different track meet, and I feel like we’ve done that very well to this point. We’ve got to come back and get ready to go one more time tomorrow.
“This is exactly how we expected this track meet to unfold. We knew it would be a two-team race on the men’s side and a three-team race on the women’s side. Our teams have done a good enough job to put themselves in a position to compete for a team title tomorrow.”
The Tigers got the ball rolling by winning their seventh NCAA title all-time in the 4x100-meter relay as the foursome of sophomore Armanti Hayes, senior Richard Thompson, freshman Gabriel Mvumvure and junior Trindon Holliday clocked a seasonal best and the third-fastest time in team history at 38.42 seconds to beat runner-up Texas A&M (38.58) to the tape by a split second.
Their time is not only one of the fastest in the history of the LSU track and field program, but it is also a new stadium record for Jim Duncan Track at Drake Stadium.
After running the second leg on the 4x100 relay, Thompson beat an elite field to the finish line in the final of the 100-meter dash by clocking a time of 10.12 into a slight headwind to win his second individual NCAA title of the season. Travis Padgett of Clemson was runner-up with a time of 10.16, while Holliday earned All-America honors in the event for the second straight year with a third-place finish and a time of 10.18.
Thompson is the first LSU track athlete to win both NCAA sprint titles in the same season after also winning the 60-meter crown in March. He is also only the second Tiger in program history to be crowned NCAA champion in the 100 meters, joining LSU great Xavier Carter in 2006.
“This was a great way to go out in my last 100-meter race at LSU,” Thompson said. “I’ve been preparing for this race for four years now, and I just thank God for giving me the ability to come out here today and have the chance to win. I finished ahead of guys that I have a lot of respect for in this sport, and I feel very fortunate to come out on top.”
Thompson was not the only LSU athlete to grab the spotlight in the final of the 100-meter dash on Friday evening as fellow senior Kelly Baptiste added a national title of her own by winning the women’s championship with a time of 11.20 in a very competitive race.
Baptiste beat Texas A&M senior Simone Facey (11.27) to the finish line to become just the fifth Lady Tiger in program history to carry the title of NCAA champion in the 100 meters, joining the likes of such Lady Tiger greats as Dawn Sowell (1989), Esther Jones (1990), D’Andre Hill (1995, 1996) and Sherry Fletcher (2007).
In fact, Baptiste clocked the exact same time to win this year’s 100-meter title that Fletcher did in coming out of nowhere to win the race last season.
Like Thompson, Baptiste wraps up the 2008 season by sweeping 60-meter and 100-meter titles at the NCAA Championships, marking the first time in the history of collegiate track and field that athletes from one school have swept championships in the short sprints at both NCAA meets and have won all four titles in the same season.
Baptiste also helped the Lady Tigers score eight big points by anchoring the 4x100-meter relay to a runner-up finish with a time of 42.85. She teamed with freshman Kenyanna Wilson, Henry, and senior Brooklynn Morris to earn All-America honors in the event.
“Coach Shaver always tells me that I have the best top end speed at this level, and I just knew that I had to be patient during the race. That’s exactly what I did,” Baptiste said. “I caught Simone (Facey) with about 40 meters to go, and once I was in striking distance, I knew I just had to finish the race strong. I did that and got to the line before she did.
“Winning the 100 was also important for our team because we’re in a fight for the title. We had a chance to make a big move, and I was hoping to put us back in the hunt by winning that race.”
The Lady Tigers were not finished as junior Nickiesha Wilson delivered a blow to the rest of the field by running away from defending NCAA champion Nicole Leach of UCLA in the final 100 meters of the race to be crowned this year’s winner in the women’s 400-meter hurdles.
Wilson, who finished runner-up to Leach in the NCAA final a year ago, got out of the blocks fast and made up the stagger on the UCLA star by the 250-meter mark of the race. She seemed to turn it on while gliding over the final three hurdles before crossing the finish line with a seasonal best time of 54.45. Leach finished runner-up to Wilson this time around with a time of 54.62.
“Nicole is a great competitor, and we seem to always push each other when we race together. It seems like either one of us can win on any given day,” Wilson said. “I wanted to go out there and win the race. I went out a little fast, but I knew that I would be in good shape because of my kick going into the eighth hurdle. I was very confident after clearing that 10th hurdle before she did.”
While the Tigers and Lady Tigers racked up four event titles on Friday evening, junior Preston Chatham was LSU’s first All-American of the day as he let loose a new personal best throw of 234 feet, 7 inches on his fourth attempt of the competition and first of the final round of throws to earn a fourth-place finish in the men’s javelin.
Chatham, who entered this year’s NCAA Championships with a previous personal best of 233-1 and a 10th-place finish in the event at the national meet last season, scored five big points for the Tigers in the team standings and earned his first career All-America honor as an LSU Tiger.
The Lady Tigers also added a pair of NCAA finalists during Friday’s action as Wilson and senior Jessica Ohanaja advanced to Saturday’s final in the women’s 100-meter hurdles.
The duo will look to score big points for the Lady Tigers on the meet’s final day as Wilson clocked the second-fastest semifinal time at 13.00, while Ohanaja was the fourth-fastest qualifier in the semifinal round with a time of 13.10.
The LSU women have six opportunities to score points Saturday as sophomore LaTavia Thomas will kick things off in the finals of the 800 meters as the reigning NCAA indoor champion hopes to sweep titles in 2008. Baptiste and Henry will follow in the finals of the 200-meter dash, while Wilson and Ohanaja are set to line up in the final heat of the 100-meter hurdles.
As always, this year’s national champion will be crowned following the 4x400-meter relay as the Lady Tigers will line up in the event at 4:37 p.m. CDT.
With Florida State now in control of the race for the men’s team title, the Tigers are in a position to earn a second-place finish for the third straight season. They have two scoring opportunities of their own with Thompson in the 200-meter final and Elkana Kosgei in the final of the 800 meters.
“Our kids showed a lot of guts today,” Shaver said. “Today was really the first day of the track meet that we had to face a little adversity. Juanita wasn’t at 100 percent, which forced us to run a different order on the relay that we haven’t run all year. They were able to finish second, and that in itself was probably the most important thing that happened all day. The goal in that race was to just get the stick around the track.
“And what can you say about what Kelly-Ann, Nickiesha and Richard did today. They have been great competitors for us all year long and came up big for our teams today.”
The 2008 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships will come to a dramatic conclusion on Saturday as the action kicks off with the conclusion of the women’s heptathlon at 11 a.m., followed by the first field events at 1p.m. and the first event on the track at 2:45 p.m. CBS will carry a live two-hour broadcast of the final day of the competition beginning at 3 p.m.
2008 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships Results
Friday at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa (All race distances in meters)
1. Richard Thompson, LSU, 10.12; 2. Travis Padgett, Clemson, 10.16; 3. Trindon Holliday, LSU, 10.18; 4. Walter Dix, Florida State, 10.22; 5. Jacoby Ford, Clemson, 10.33; 6. Jeremy Hall, Florida, 10.36; 7. Teddy Williams, UT-San Antonio, 10.40; 8. Kendall May, Mississippi State, 10.44.
1. Robert Cutis, Villanova, 13:33.93; 2. Stephen Pifer, Colorado, 13:39.34; 3. Brent Vaughn, Colorado, 13:39.44; 4. David McNeill, Northern Arizona, 13:42.17; 5. Ryan Vail, Oklahoma State, 13:42.85; 6. Hassan Mead, Minnesota, 13:44.30; 7. Kenyon Neuman, Colorado, 13:45.54; 8. Patrick Smyth, Notre Dame, 13:47.82.
1. Jeshua Anderson, Washington State, 48.69; 2. Rueben McCoy, Auburn, 48.71; 3. Robert Griffin, Baylor, 49.55; 4. Jussi Heikkila, South Carolina, 49.69; 5. Nick Robinson, Texas A&M, 49.92; 6. Terry Thornton, Hampton, 49.99; 7. Kai Kelley, USC, 50.34.
1. LSU, 38.42; 2. Texas A&M, 38.58; 3. Florida, 38.84; 4. Florida State, 39.11; 5. Tennessee, 39.19; 6. Baylor, 39.47; 7. TCU, 39.60.
1. Kyle Alcorn, Arizona State, 8:28.26; 2. Billy Nelson, Colorado, 8:28.85; 3. Luke Gunn, Florida State, 8:34.41; 4. Hillary Bor, Iowa State, 8:36.84; 5. Peter Kosgei, Arkansas, 8:37.61; 6. Kyle Heath, Syracuse, 8:38.03; 7. Patrick Mutai, UTEP, 8:38.48; 8. Carl Moe, Washington, 8:41.83.
1. Mickael Hanany, UTEP, 7-7 ¼; 2. Dusty Jonas, Nebraska, 7-5; 3. Grant Lindsey, Kentucky, 7-5; 4. Scott Sellers, Kansas State, 7-2 ½; 5. Donte Nall, North Carolina, 7-1 ½; 6. Ehi Oamen, Northern Iowa, 7-1 ½; 7. Norris Frederick, Washington, 7-1 ½; 8. Raymond Harris, Texas, 7-1 ¼.
1. Maston Wallace, Texas, 17-6 ½; t2. Yavgeniy Olhovsky, Viginia Tech, 17-2 ¾; t2. Nick Frawley, Air Force, 17-2 ¾; t2. Jared O’Connor, Washington, 17-2 ¾; 5. Luke Schoen, Albany, 17-2 ¾; 6. Robert Caldwell, New Mexico, 17-2 ¾; 7. Jeff Cover, Indiana, 17-2 ¼; t8. Johnny Quinn, UCLA, 16-8 ¾; t8. Brian Hancock, Missouri, 16-8 ¾.
1. Rashaud Scott, Kentucky, 199-8; 2. Yemi Ayeni, Virginia, 195-2; 3. Clendon Henderson, Liberty, 192-7; 4. Leif Arrhenius, BYU, 187-11; 5. Russ Winger, Idaho, 187-7; 6. Jason Schutz, Colorado State, 186-3; 7. Greg Garza, UCLA, 186-1; 8. Martin Maric, California, 185-10.
1. Cory Martin, Auburn, 243-2; 2. Jake Dunkleberger, Auburn, 239-5; 3. Egor Agafonov, Kansas, 229-5; 4. Boldizsar Kocsor, UCLA, 229-5; 5. Matej Muza, Virginia Tech, 229-1; 6. Steffen Nerdal, Memphis, 223-9; 7. Colin Veldman, Oregon, 219-7; 8. Andy Fryman, Kentucky, 216-8.
1. Chris Hill, Georgia, 257-3; 2. Corey White, USC, 255-2; 3. Adam Montague, Florida, 244-10; 4. Preston Chatham, LSU, 234-7; 5. Alex VanderMerwe, UTEP, 231-7; 6. Jeffrey Kent, UL-Monroe, 225-6; 7. Alex Wolff, Oregon, 220-1; 8. John Austin, Duke, 216-10.
TEAM STANDINGS (13 events scored)
1. Florida State, 32; 2. LSU, 31; 3. Auburn, 26; 4. Colorado, 24; t5. Texas A&M, 18; t5. Arizona State, 18; t5. Kentucky, 18; 8. UTEP, 17; 9. Florida, 15; 10. Oregon, 14.
1. Kelly Baptiste, LSU, 11.20; 2. Simone Facey, Texas A&M, 11.27; 3. Lakecia Ealey, Florida, 11.35; 4. Nickesha Anderson, Kansas, 11.37; 5. Jessica Onyepunuka, USC, 11.43; 6. Alexandria Anderson, Texas, 11.44; 7. Samantha Henry, LSU, 11.63; 8. Juanita Broaddus, LSU, 12.44.
1. Sally Kipyego, Texas Tech, 15:15.08; 2. Angela Bizzarri, Illinois, 15:46.08; 3. Nicole Blood, Oregon, 15:49.22; 4. Teresa McWalters, Stanford, 15:50.18; 5. Rebecca Lowe, Florida, 15:50.73; 6. Tasmin Fanning, Virginia Tech, 15:54.38; 7. Gwen Jorgensen, Wisconsin, 16:10.85; 8. Hollie Knight, Auburn, 16:11.46.
1. Nickiesha Wilson, LSU, 54.45; 2. Nicole Leach, UCLA, 54.62; 3. Takecia Jameson, Miami, 56.75; 4. LaToya James, North Carolina, 56.91; 5. Amelia Anderson, Auburn, 57.12; 6. Danielle Gilchrist, Auburn, 57.81; 7. Danielle Brown, Western Michigan, 58.31; 8. Ti’erra Brown, Miami, 58.47.
1. Texas A&M, 42.59; 2. LSU, 42.85; 3. Baylor, 43.61; 4. Florida, 43.61; 5. Tennessee, 43.83; 6. UTEP, 43.95; 7. South Carolina, 44.04; 8. California, 44.32.
1. Jenny Barringer, Colorado, 9:29.20; 2. Silje Fjortoft, SMU, 9:55.54; 3. Bridget Franek, Penn State, 9:58.74; 4. Lindsay Allen, Stanford, 10:05.26; 5. Irene Kimaiyo, Texas Tech, 10:05.29; 6. Angela Wagner, BYU, 10:06.05; 7. Sarah Madebach, Georgia, 10:07.16; 8. Sariah Long, Weber State, 10:07.77.
1. Elizabeth Patterson, Arizona, 6-1 ¼; 2. Sharon Day, Cal Poly-SLO, 6-1 ¼; 3. Raevan Harris, Auburn, 6-1 ¼; 4. Desirae Gonder, Northridge, 6-0; 5. Amber Kaufman, Hawaii-Manoa, 6-0; 6. Emily Sheppard, Hawaii-Manoa, 5-10 ¾; 7. Jasmin Day, Arizona, 5-10 ¾; 8. Kristina Bolterstein, Miami-Ohio, 5-10 ¾.
1. Katie Morgan, California, 13-9 ¼; 2. Stephanie Bagan, San Diego State, 13-9 ¼; 3. Katie Stripling, Arkansas, 13-9 ¼; 4. April Kubishta, Arizona State, 13-9 ¼; 5. Rachel Greff, Rice, 13-5 ¼; 6. Kelly Phillips, Virginia Tech, 13-5 ¼; 7. Jenny Soceka, Wisconsin, 13-5 ¼; 8. Melissa Gergel, Oregon, 13-1 ½.
1. Sarah Stevens, Arizona State, 184-2; 2. Tai Battle, Arizona State, 182-8; 3. D’Andra Carter, Texas Tech, 181-7; 4. Khadija Talley, Miami, 179-7; 5. McKenzie Garberg, Washington State, 174-10; 6. Rachel Talbert, Oral Roberts, 165-7; 7. Jessica Pressley, Arizona State, 164-11; 8. Billie-Jo Grant, Virginia, 164-11.
1. Eva Orban, USC, 225-5; 2. Brittney Riley, Southern Illinois, 221-3; 3. Sarah Stevens, Arizona State, 217-9; 4. Jessica Pressley, Arizona State, 214-2; 5. Loren Groves, Kansas State, 210-4; 6. McKenzie Garberg, Washington State, 210-3; 7. Brittany Pryor, Virginia Tech, 208-1; 8. Stevi Large, Akron, 206-3.
TEAM STANDINGS (11 events scored)
1. Arizona State, 36; 2. LSU, 31; 3. Stanford, 21; 4. Texas Tech, 20; 5. Texas A&M, 18; 6. Florida, 16; t7. Auburn, 14; t7. Southern California, 14; t9. Arizona, 12; t9. Miami, 12.