Martin Headlines T&F Day 1 in Arkansas
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Friday’s opener at the Razorback Invitational featured the fastest 200-meter competition on the women’s side to-date in 2017 as LSU’s senior All-American Jada Martin finished a split-second shy of her indoor personal best in the event with a heat-winning 23.05 seconds at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
Martin, who clocked her indoor best of 22.92 at the SEC Indoor Championships a year ago in her last appearance at the Tyson Center, emerged as the NCAA’s No. 2-ranked 200-meter sprinter this season.
While lining up in the 10th of 12 sections in the women’s 200 meters on Friday night, Martin (23.05) outlasted Texas A&M’s Danyel White (23.26) to the finish line for the win in the heat. Her time was just off the mark in the end as she was edged for the title by USC’s Deanna Hill, who crossed the finish line in the 12th and final heat as the new NCAA leader in the event with a winning run of 22.94.
It was an event that actually featured the three fastest performances in the collegiate ranks this January as Southern California standout Kendall Ellis rounded out the medalists with a winning 23.15 in the ninth heat for the third-fastest time in the country thus far. LSU sophomore Kortnei Johnson finished runner-up to Ellis in the ninth heat with a seasonal-best time of 23.74 for 12th place in the final standings.
Other Lady Tigers running their fastest 200 meters of the season were senior Rushell Harvey with a time of 24.07 for 17th place and sophomore Shayna Yon with an indoor PR of 24.74 for 30th place in the event.
Top 5 DMRs
LSU’s distance medley relay teams kicked off Friday’s events on the track with two of the top performances in school history as the Tigers placed third in the men’s event with the third-fastest time in team history at 9 minutes, 36.22 seconds before the Lady Tigers finished runner-up in the women’s final with the second-fastest time in school history at 11:08.44.
Running with a team of senior Blair Henderson (1,200 meters), senior Marcus Tiner (400 meters), junior Jack Wilkes (800 meters) and sophomore Dajour Braxton (mile), the Tigers came up nine tenths of a second from their indoor school record of 9:35.31 as they placed third behind Oklahoma State’s 9:33.93 in first and Ole Miss’ 9:34.39 in second with the NCAA’s three fastest times this campaign.
The Lady Tigers nearly set a school record of their own as freshman Ruby Stauber, senior Travia Jones, sophomore Hollie Parker and senior Morgan Schuetz teamed for a time of 11:08.44 that was just three seconds off of their school record of 11:05.34 in the event. They were second only to the national-leading 11:08.05 by Oklahoma State.
Jones, Parker and Schuetz all return from LSU’s historic women’s DMR a year ago that qualified to run at the NCAA Championships for the first time in team history. Arkansas was well back in third at 11:15.54.
Johnnie Jackson was just one week removed from opening his senior season with an NCAA-leading performance in the weight throw at the Auburn Invitational in Birmingham last Saturday where he threw 77 feet, 3 ¾ inches for the win. That performance earned Jackson the title of SEC Men’s Co-Field Athlete of the Week as an early-season NCAA-title contender in the event.
He followed that effort with a second-straight victory on Friday afternoon as he threw a series-best of 71-8 ¾ in the fourth round to finish a little more than three inches clear of Georgia’s Alex Poursanidis for the win.
Jackson took the early lead in the competition with his opening throw of 71-1 ½ in the first round that held up for second place through three rounds of qualifying. After Poursanidis displaced his SEC rival with a mark of 71-5 ½ in the second round before Jackson took back the initiative with his winning throw of 71-8 ¾ in the fourth round of the competition.
Freshmen Rayvon Grey and Jace Attuso were among other athletes enjoying seasonal-best performances in Friday’s opener in Arkansas as they proved to be the top Tigers in the men’s long jump field. Grey, the 2016 New Balance Indoor Nationals Champion with a lifetime best of 26-0 ¼, raised his freshman best to 24-9 ¾ to place fifth in a loaded event. Attuso followed in eighth place with an indoor PR of 24-1 ¾ on the day.
Also setting a personal best with her effort on the opening day of this year’s Razorback Invitational was junior Marvalyn Vernon, who threw a best of 58-9 ¼ for 14th place in the women’s weight throw.
In an event that is sure to provide a preview of what’s to come at the SEC Indoor Championships in February, sophomore Brittany Kelly scored a personal best 3,840 points for sixth place in a pentathlon field with many of the league’s top multi-event athletes. It marked Kelly’s pentathlon debut for the Lady Tigers after already featuring in the 60-meter hurdles, high jump and long jump individually this season.
Kelly was off to a fast start as she totaled 1,002 points while tying her personal-best time in the 60 hurdles with the third-fastest time of the day at 8.57 in their first event. She followed by clearing 5-5 ¾ for 818 points in the high jump and throwing a series-best of 30-4 ¼ in the shot put for a new indoor personal best and 480 points in the event.
Kelly then put herself within striking distance of the 4,000-point mark in the penultimate event with a lifetime PR of 19-3 ¼ for 810 points in the long jump to sit with 3,110 points through those four events.
She returned to the track for the 800 meters with an indoor personal best of 2 minutes, 15.51 seconds in her collegiate career, a time that would have put her just below that 4,000-point milestone at 3,996 points in her first pentathlon as a Lady Tiger. Kelly finished just outside LSU’s all-time Top 10 list in the event as her official time of 2:27.11 gave her 730 points in the finale for a personal best of 3,840 points across five events.
A former NCAA Outdoor Championships qualifier in the heptathlon during her freshman season at Ole Miss in 2015, Kelly edged out her previous pentathlon PR of 3,830 points she set in a 10th-place finish for the event at the SEC Indoor Championships in her rookie season with the Rebels.
Other top performers in Friday’s events were senior Nataliyah Friar in ninth place in the women’s long jump with a mark of 19-6 ¾, junior Briana Kelly in a tie for second place in the women’s high jump with a clearance of 5-6, sophomore Jordan McClendon in eighth place in the women’s weight throw with a mark of 61-10 ½ and freshman Milton Harrell in a tie for seventh place with a mark of 6-9 in the men’s high jump.
Saturday’s finale at the Razorback Invitational is scheduled to get underway at 10:15 a.m. CT with the early distance events on the track. The invitational races in the afternoon are set to begin at 1 p.m., followed by the first field events of the afternoon at 2 p.m. Events will run through the conclusion of the 4x400-meter relays at approximately 5 p.m.
Fans can watch the Tigers and Lady Tigers in action on Saturday afternoon as the SEC Network will feature live television coverage of the event from 1-4:30 p.m. CT. Live streaming video of the event will also run during that TV window as fans can access the SEC Network+ on ESPN3.com on all tablet and smartphone devices.