Track & Field Rolls in Purple Tiger Opener

Tonea Marshall won the 60-meter hurdles in her collegiate debut!
Tonea Marshall won the 60-meter hurdles in her collegiate debut!
Steve Franz
Will Stafford (@WillStaffordLSU)
Will Stafford (@WillStaffordLSU)
Associate SID

BATON ROUGE – Tonea Marshall was quick out of the blocks in her collegiate debut at Friday’s Purple Tiger Invitational as the freshman from Arlington, Texas, won the women’s 60-meter hurdles while running 8.29 seconds in her first collegiate final to highlight LSU’s 2017 season opener at the Carl Maddox Field House.

Marshall emerged as the fourth-fastest hurdler in the NCAA ranks in the early stages of the season as she followed her time of 8.40 in the prelims with a winning 8.29 in the final to win her first collegiate title.

The Juan Seguin High School graduate signed with LSU as the top sprint hurdle recruit in the country in the Class of 2016 and helped form the nation’s No. 3-ranked recruiting class by Track & Field News before the 2017 season. She certainly gave the fans a glimpse of her talent in Friday’s final as she posted one of the fastest season-opening times by a freshman in program history.

Marshall is just 10 months removed from setting the national high school record in the 60-meter hurdles when she was crowned the New Balance Indoor Nationals Champion in the event with a personal best of 8.02 at The Armory in New York. She is certainly off on the right foot in her quest for NCAA Championship qualification this season with her season-opening 8.29 on Friday afternoon.

Marshall was not the only Lady Tiger to line up in Friday’s final in the women’s 60-meter hurdles as fellow freshman Brittley Humphrey trailed in third place with a season-opening time of 8.47 and junior Danielle Phillips followed in fourth place overall with a time of 8.52. Alexia Fortenberry of the University of New Orleans scored the silver medal in 8.46.

Johnson Equals Career Best

Italy, Texas, native Kortnei Johnson ran her fastest 60-meter race as a freshman last season when it counted the most as she crossed the finish line in 7.33 for sixth place in the event final at the 2016 SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships while making her conference debut. That was after sprinting to the finish line in 7.37 in her first collegiate race in the prelims at last year’s Bayou Bengal Invitational.

Johnson wasted no time in equaling her personal best in her first meet as a sophomore when she won the 60-meter title at the Purple Tiger Invitational on Friday while matching her PR of 7.33 in the final.

Johnson was also the top qualifier in the preliminary round when she advanced with a time of 7.40 to win the second heat. She was followed across the line in the final by fellow sophomore Rachel Misher, who clocked a personal best of her own at 7.38 for second place in the final. Misher eclipsed her previous best of 7.43 set as a freshman a year ago.

The Lady Tigers took home the top four spots in the women’s 60-meter final on Friday afternoon with senior Rushell Harvey taking third in 7.54 and freshman Cassondra Hall finishing fourth overall in 7.55 in the event.

McClendon Cracks Top 10 List

Sophomore Jordan McClendon led a host of six Lady Tigers kicking off Friday’s action in the early field events by winning the women’s weight throw title in her LSU debut, and she did so by cracking the school’s all-time Top 10 performance list in the event with a winning mark of 58 feet, 6 ¾ inches on her sixth and final throw of the day.

McClendon held the fourth position heading into the final after qualifying with a throw of 54-7 ½ on her third attempt of the preliminary round. She moved into second place on her first throw of the final with her mark of 57-6 ¼ on her fourth attempt before improving again at 57-9 ½ in the fifth round and 58-6 ¾ in the sixth round to finish two inches clear of Texas State’s Julie Lange in second place at 58-4 ¾.

McClendon, who owns a personal best of 62-1 in the event from her freshman season at Tulane a year ago, ended the meet as the No. 10-ranked Lady Tiger all-time to ever compete in the weight-throw event.

Three other Lady Tigers did set personal bests in their season debuts in the event as McClendon was followed by junior Marvalyn Vernon in third place with a series-best PR of 58-2 ½, freshman Nickolette Dunbar back in sixth place with a personal best of 55-5 ½ and sophomore Madison Danna in 16th place with a career-best throw of 46-6 ¾ on the afternoon.

Tigers Win With Personal Bests

Not only did senior Blair Henderson and sophomore Dajour Braxton open their indoor seasons with wins, but they did so while setting new indoor personal bests as Henderson won the mile and Braxton followed with a victory in the 3,000 meters to highlight an outstanding opening meet for LSU’s distance group.

Henderson’s winning time of 4 minutes, 12.17 seconds on the 200-meter flat track at the Carl Maddox Field House converts to a new lifetime best of 4:08.99, slashing more than one full second from his previous PR run of 4:10.16 set a year ago. He won the men’s mile over junior teammate Jack Wilkes, who clocked a converted time of 4:17.42 for second place in his season-opening race.

Braxton edged closer to the school’s all-time Top 10 list in the men’s 3,000 meters with a winning season opener of 8:21.12 converted to a banked track as he beat Tiger senior Christian Johnson (8:27.65) to the line.

Parker Paces Women’s Distance

Sophomore Hollie Parker was the team’s lone double winner on the afternoon as she swept middle distance titles in both the 800 meters and mile with strong season-opening performances in both events.

Parker broke five minutes in her first mile of the season with a winning run of 4 minutes, 57.10 seconds converted to a banked track, finishing six seconds ahead of sophomore teammate Erika Lewis (5:03.33). She later added the 800-meter title to her resume while crossing the finish line with a converted time of 2:13.88 ahead of Lady Tiger senior Danielle Avery in second place in 2:17.31.

Event Champions

The Tigers and Lady Tigers combined for 14 event wins in Friday’s Purple Tiger Invitational as seniors Keane Bland, Michael Cherry, Ka’Lynn Jupiter and Bryiana Richardson and redshirt freshman Hannah Bourque ended the day as individual champions. The Lady Tigers also wrapped up the meet by sweeping the women’s 4x400-meter relay and distance medley relay.

Cherry led a 1-2 finish for the Tigers in the men’s 600 meters with a winning time of 1:19.94 as he was followed across the finish line by senior LaMar Bruton in second place with a time of 1:20.60. Bland proved to be the leading sprint hurdler in the men’s field as he won the 60-meter hurdles with times of 8.11 in the prelims and 8.06 in the final.

Jupiter added a victory in the women’s 600 meters with a run of 1:34.84, while Richardson followed with a win in the women’s 400 meters in 57.22 and Bourque took the tape in the women’s 3k with a time of 10:18.70.

Senior Christian Brennan led off the Lady Tigers’ 4x400-meter relay team that won the women’s title as she teamed with Misher, sophomore Oksana Lawrence and senior Travia Jones for a time of 3:46.30 converted to a banked track. LSU’s winning DMR featured sophomore Erika Lewis (1,200 meters), junior Keterra Harris (400 meters), Avery (800 meters) and junior Hannah Deworth (mile) running a converted time of 12:45.56.

Next Week

With the 2017 indoor season now off and running, the Tigers and Lady Tigers will look forward to their first of two trips to Nashville, Tennessee, this season with the Commodore Invitational running on Jan. 13-14 at the Vanderbilt Multipurpose Facility. Vanderbilt will also play host to the 2017 SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships later this indoor season from Feb. 24-25.

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