2014 Track & Field Preview: Men's Jumps
The Tigers featured a balanced attack while earning yet another top-10 team finish with seventh place overall at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships to finish off the 2013 season. Leading the way were nine All-Americans scoring in events ranging from the sprints and relays to the jumps and throws as the Tigers again established their position as one of the premier teams in all of collegiate track and field.
They will follow that formula for success again in 2014 as they return seven of their nine All-Americans from last year while welcoming one of the nation’s top recruiting classes to Baton Rouge to help fuel a national championship run this season. Led by the likes of Aaron Ernest, Rodney Brown and their powerful relay teams as NCAA event contenders, the pieces are in place for the Tigers to contend for their first national championship in 10 years.
Fourth in a 10-part series previews the men’s jumpers during the 2014 season.
The 2013 season closed the book on one of the storied careers in the history of the LSU Track & Field program as Tiger great Damar Forbes wrapped up a brilliant four years in Baton Rouge by sweeping SEC Outdoor and NCAA Outdoor championships in the long jump for 2013.
Forbes certainly went out with a bang as he saved his two farthest jumps in his career in sweeping gold medals with wind-aided leaps of 27 feet, 4 ½ inches at the SEC Outdoor Championships and 27-4 ¾ at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in his final appearance as an LSU Tiger. He raised his wind-legal personal best to 27-0 ¾ last summer while winning the Jamaican long jump title in qualifying for the IAAF World Championships in Athletics for the second time.
Forbes trails only 2004 Olympic silver medalist John Moffitt on LSU’s all-time list in the men’s long jump with his career-best mark of 27-0 ¾. Moffitt set the school record of 27-9 ¾ in a silver-medal-winning performance at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
Not only did Forbes sweep SEC and NCAA titles in the long jump, but he also captured a conference title and earned All-America honors as the leadoff leg of LSU’s 4x100-meter relay for the 2013 outdoor season. He went out as a six-time All-American and six-time All-SEC athlete in his four seasons with the Tigers from 2010-13.
While the Tigers will certainly miss having Forbes lead the way in the jumps during the 2014 season, they return a talented squad featuring the likes of returning NCAA qualifiers Fitzroy Dunkley in the triple jump and Andreas Duplantis in the pole vault in the new season.
A native of Trelawny, Jamaica, Dunkley arrived at LSU in January of last year and quickly established himself as one of the SEC’s top high jump and triple jump prospects while he set personal bests of 6-11 ¾ and 51-5, respectively, during his rookie season. Despite qualifying as the No. 47 seed out of 48 competitors in the triple jump at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds in 2013, Dunkley set a nearly two-foot PR of 51-5 in the event to take third place and claim a spot in the NCAA semifinals at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in his debut.
Dunkley looks to build on his early success following a strong fall training campaign and will certainly lead the way for the Tigers in the jumps in 2014.
Duplantis has quickly emerged as an All-America candidate as one of the nation’s elite pole vaulters after setting personal bests of 17-9 ¼ indoors and 17-7 outdoors as a sophomore last season. After competing in the national semifinals at the NCAA Outdoor Championships during a breakout freshman season in 2012, he qualified for the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds again last spring. He also won the SEC Indoor bronze medal and ranked among the Top 20 pole vaulters for the 2013 indoor season while just missing a spot at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Duplantis will be joined by two other 17-foot pole vaulters in the 2013 season as seniors Joseph Caraway (17-5) and Jaora Johnson (17-3) have All-American aspirations during their final season with the Tigers in 2014.
The Tigers are also set to welcome two standout recruits this season as Mandeville, La., native Cameron Robichaux owns a personal record of 16-0 in the pole vault and South Brunswick Township, N.J., native Jonathan Pitt has set personal bests of 23-3 in the long jump and 49-7 ½ in the triple jump during their respective high school careers.