SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Just two weeks after jumping a wind-legal personal best of 44 feet, 1 ¼ inches at the NCAA Championships, Lady Tiger senior Lynnika Pitts captured the bronze medal in the women’s triple jump at the 2014 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships with a career-best wind-aided mark of 44-6 ¼ on Thursday at Sacramento State’s Hornet Stadium.
Pitts opened the competition by jumping a wind-legal 42-8 ¼ (+0.8) on her very first attempt of the second flight, and held her position in eighth place with just one qualifying jump remaining.
That’s when she returned to the runway for the third round of jumps and popped a career-best wind-aided mark of 44-6 ¼ (+3.0) on her third attempt to catapult herself into medal contention in third place heading to the final rounds of jumps. She could even see the gold medal in her sights as she trailed Amanda Smock’s leading mark of 44-8 ¼ by just two inches following the preliminary round.
After fouling each of her first two jumps in the final, Pitts ended her series with a leap of 42-8 ¾ (+1.2) in the sixth and final round of jumps to maintain her position in third place and end her first USA Championships as the 2014 USA Outdoor Bronze Medalist thanks to the best jump of her athletics career at 44-6 ¼w.
Smock extended her lead to 45-2 ¼ on her final jump to take the title over Florida’s silver medalist Ciarra Brewer, who posted an identical mark as Pitts at 44-6 ¼ on her opening jump. Brewer scored the silver medal on the night as she had a better second jump than Pitts at 43-11 ¼ in the second round to separate the two former SEC rivals. Pitts’ second-best mark was her jump of 42-9 ½ in the final round of the competition.
Her bronze-medal-winning performance on Thursday capped an outstanding senior season that saw her earn a pair of All-America honors while leading the Lady Tigers at the NCAA Championships in 2014.
Pitts saved her best jump for last in her final collegiate appearance with the Lady Tigers as she jumped a wind-legal personal best of 44-1 ¼ in the final round at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships to earn All-America honors with a fourth-place finish in the national final. She was also crowned the NCAA Indoor Bronze Medalist as one of the team’s top performers throughout the campaign.
Pitts was not the only LSU athlete to shine during Thursday’s action at Hornet Stadium as Tiger junior Vernon Norwood won his qualifying heat in the men’s 400-meter dash with a run of 45.39 seconds. Norwood’s time of 45.39 was the fourth-fastest time of the qualifying round as he beat Oregon’s Michael Berry (45.43), Florida’s Najee Glass (45.53), Hampton’s Je’von Hutchison (46.21) and South Carolina’s Clayton Gravesande (46.96) to the finish line in the second preliminary heat.
Norwood, the NCAA Indoor Silver Medalist and NCAA Outdoor Bronze Medalist in the 400-meter dash in 2014, will next line up in the semifinal round of the men’s 400 meters on Friday at 9:54 p.m. CT.
Three former LSU All-Americans advanced to Friday’s semifinals in the 800 meters on Friday afternoon, led by former Lady Tiger LaTavia Thomas who qualified in ninth place overall with her heat winning time of 2:02.39 in the third qualifying heat. She will be joined in the women’s semifinal by former Lady Tiger Charlene Lipsey, who qualified in 15th place overall with her time of 2:03.50 for second place in the second heat.
Former Tiger middle distance standout Richard Jones raced to a 2014 seasonal best of 1:47.72 to finish in fifth place in a quick opening heat for ninth place overall in the qualifying round of the men’s 800 meters.
Also making an appearance during Thursday’s action at Hornet Stadium was former Lady Tiger All-American Kenyanna Wilson, who sprinted to the finish line in 11.53 (-0.2) to earn a sixth-place finish in the first heat and finish in 14th place overall in qualifying to advance to Friday’s semifinal round as the third-fastest qualifier on time.
LSU’s NCAA Outdoor Silver Medalist Tori Bliss kicked off the 2014 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Wednesday by earning a 12th-place finish in the women’s shot put competition held at the State Capitol in downtown Sacramento. In her first career USA Championships, Bliss qualified for the final with a qualifying mark of 55-2 ¼ earlier in the day before throwing 52-7 ½ in the final en route to a 12th-place finish.
Bliss caps her breakout junior season that saw her earn All-America honors for the first time in her collegiate career with a school-record throw of 57-4 ¼ in a silver-medal-winning runner-up finish in the national final of the women’s shot put at the NCAA Outdoor Championships just two weeks ago.
Time Schedule for LSU Entries at the 2014 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships
Note: Times are Central and subject to change based on round-by-round qualifying and weather delay
Friday, June 27
TV Schedule: TAPE DELAY on NBC Sports Network (9-11 p.m. CT)
5:15 p.m. – Men’s Discus Qualifying/Final (Rodney Brown)
6:00 p.m. – Women’s 400 Hurdles First Round (Cassandra Tate)
6:30 p.m. – Men’s 400 Hurdles First Round (Quincy Downing)
7:25 p.m. – Women’s 100 Hurdles First Round (Lolo Jones, Tenaya Jones, Jasmin Stowers)
7:51 p.m. – Women’s 100 Meters Semifinals (Kenyanna Wilson)
9:54 p.m. – Men’s 400 Meters Semifinals (Vernon Norwood)
10:09 p.m. – Women’s 800 Meters Semifinals (Charlene Lipsey, LaTavia Thomas)
10:26 p.m. – Men’s 800 Meters Semifinals (Richard Jones)
10:43 p.m. – Women’s 100 Meters Final (Kenyanna Wilson)
Saturday, June 28
TV Schedule: LIVE on NBC (3-5 p.m. CT); LIVE on Universal Sports (5-6 p.m. CT)
1 p.m. – Women’s Hammer Throw Qualifying/Final (Denise Hinton)
1 p.m. – Women’s 100 Hurdles Semifinals (Lolo Jones, Tenaya Jones, Jasmin Stowers)
1:20 p.m. – Men’s 200 Meters First Round (Aaron Ernest)
2:20 p.m. – Women’s 200 Meters First Round (Kimberlyn Duncan)
3:13 p.m. – Women’s 400 Hurdles Semifinals (Cassandra Tate)
3:29 p.m. – Men’s 400 Hurdles Semifinals (Quincy Downing)
4:42 p.m. – Men’s 400 Meters Final (Vernon Norwood)
4:52 p.m. – Women’s 100 Hurdles Final (Lolo Jones, Tenaya Jones, Jasmin Stowers)
Sunday, June 29
TV Schedule: LIVE on Universal Sports (2-3 p.m. CT); LIVE on NBC (3-5 p.m. CT)
1:30 p.m. – Men’s 200 Meters Semifinals (Aaron Ernest)
1:50 p.m. – Women’s 200 Meters Semifinals (Kimberlyn Duncan)
3:05 p.m. – Women’s 400 Hurdles Final (Cassandra Tate)
3:30 p.m. – Women’s 800 Meters Final (Charlene Lipsey, LaTavia Thomas)
3:40 p.m. – Men’s 800 Meters Final (Richard Jones)
4:09 p.m. – Men’s 200 Meters Final (Aaron Ernest)
4:19 p.m. – Men’s 400 Hurdles Final (Quincy Downing)
4:29 p.m. – Women’s 200 Meters Final (Kimberlyn Duncan)