2014 Track & Field Preview: Women's Sprints, Relays
Much will be written heading into the 2014 season about which Lady Tigers will step up to fill the void left behind by the departures of such program greats as Kimberlyn Duncan, Natoya Goule and Charlene Lipsey from last year’s squad. After all, Duncan swept NCAA titles in the 200 meters, Goule swept NCAA titles in the 800 meters and Lipsey added All-America honors in the 800 meters during both the indoor and outdoor seasons a year ago.
But the Lady Tigers return six All-Americans from a team that earned a third-place finish indoors and a fourth-place finish outdoors at the NCAA Championships, while welcoming one of the nation’s top recruiting classes as they look to reload for another championship run in 2014.
Sixth in a 10-part series previews a youthful crop of women’s sprinters who look to score points in the sprints and relays in 2014.
Women’s Sprints & Relays
The Lady Tigers have built the success of their program on developing the nation’s premier sprinters at the collegiate level year in and year out, and the 2013 season witnessed the end of an era as Kimberlyn Duncan ended her career as one of the all-time greats to lace up a pair of spikes for the Lady Tigers.
Duncan cemented her legacy as one of the NCAA’s great sprinters with another history-making senior season in 2013 as she defended her NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor titles in the 200-meter dash while sweeping titles for the third-straight season. She was also crowned the SEC champion in the 60 meters and 200 meters indoors and 100 meters and 200 meters outdoors as the most dominant short sprinter at the collegiate level once again during her senior season.
Duncan’s resume speaks for itself. She wrapped up her collegiate career with the Lady Tigers by tying the program record with seven NCAA event titles and 12 SEC event titles during her four-year career from 2010-13. She also captured 14 All-America honors during her tenure as one of the most decorated Lady Tigers to ever wear the LSU uniform.
She has even emerged as one of the world’s bright young stars after making her international debut for the United States at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics last year. Duncan, who set personal bests of 10.96 in the 100 meters and 22.19 in the 200 meters during her collegiate career, upset Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix to earn her first career U.S. Outdoor crown in the 200 meters to highlight her 2013 season.
In the wake of Duncan’s departure, senior Takeia Pinckney returns as a leader of the LSU sprint group with an impressive resume of her own as a four-time All-American.
Pinckney bounced back from a hamstring injury that ended her outdoor season in 2012 to qualify for the NCAA Indoor meet in the 60 meters and NCAA Outdoor meet in the 100 meters a year ago while also running on LSU’s All-American 4x100-meter relay team in the national final. A former fourth-place finisher in the 100-meter final at the NCAA Championships, Pinckney will compete with personal bests of 11.26 in the 100 meters and 23.32 in the 200 meters.
Pinckney will only compete outdoors for the Lady Tigers during the 2014 campaign after exhausting her indoor eligibility a year ago.
The Lady Tigers actually return both the third leg and anchor leg of their 4x100-meter relay team that earned a sixth-place finish nationally at the NCAA Outdoor Championships a year ago as Pinckney handed off to fellow senior Toshika Sylvester down the homestretch as each will look to lead the team once again during the 2014 season. Sylvester has set personal bests of 11.54 in the 100 meters and 23.87 in the 200 meters in her three previous seasons.
The Lady Tigers will compete with a youthful sprint relay pool this season that will boast the likes of sophomore transfer Kiersten Duncan (11.77/23.89) and the freshman trio of Bealoved Brown (11.83/23.80), Rushell Harvey (11.72/23.96) and Jada Martin (11.76/23.65).
With the departures of such All-Americans as Natoya Goule, Siedda Herbert, Latoya McDermott and Montenae Roye-Speight from last year, the Lady Tigers will look to develop depth in their 4x400-meter relay pool this season as Nikita Tracey returns for her senior season as the team’s only leg appearing in the national final a season ago.
Tracey, who also earned All-America honors in the 400-meter hurdles with seventh place in the NCAA final in her NCAA Championships debut in 2013, ran her seasonal-best 52.7-second split at the Penn Relays before running the second leg of LSU’s All-American mile relay squad in the national final to wrap up the collegiate season.
Tracey will be joined in the team’s 4x400-meter relay pool by the likes of junior Chanice Chase (53.52) and freshman Travia Jones (54.40) as they compete for All-American honors again during the 2014 season.