Cherry, Brisco Set Pace in Razorback Finale
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Saturday’s finale at the Razorback Invitational was déjà vu for LSU senior Michael Cherry as he not only ran his opening 400 meters at the Randal Tyson Track Center for the second-straight year, but did so with an NCAA-leading performance as he defended his title with a collegiate best of 45.91 seconds.
The day also saw junior Mikiah Brisco step onto the track for the Lady Tigers for the first time this season as she finished a split-second shy of the NCAA lead with a run of 7.19 to win the women’s 60 meters.
The Lady Tigers were crowned the women’s team champions in a loaded field at the Razorback Invitational as they totaled 84.33 points over two days of competition to finish in front of the 80 points scored by the USC Trojans for second place in the final women’s team standings. Arkansas was third with 75 points, followed by Texas A&M in fourth with 72.33 points and Georgia in fifth with 59 points.
Cherry provided the spark for the Tigers on the final day of the meet as the 10 points he scored as champion of the invitational 400 meters helped LSU crack the Top 5 in the final men’s team standings in fifth place with 48.5 points for the meet. Arkansas finished well in front on the men’s side with 99.5 points, followed by Texas A&M (85) in second, Florida (72) in third and Georgia (67) in fourth.
Cherry returned to the Randal Tyson Track Center just one day shy of one year when he opened his junior season with an NCAA-leading 45.78 to win the Razorback Invitational title for the first time on Jan. 30, 2016.
But unlike his opener a year ago, Saturday’s invitational 400 meters proved to be a fight to the finish line as Cherry only passed Arkansas’ Obi Igbokwe around the final turn with 50 meters to go and surged to the line in 45.91 to defend his crown. Florida sophomore Kunle Fasasi finished runner-up to Cherry with a time of 46.02, while Igbokwe slipped to third in the heat and fourth overall with a time of 46.40. Texas A&M’s Mylik Kerley placed third overall with a winning time of 46.09 in the first heat.
Cherry, the NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor Bronze Medalist in the event as a junior, will now be the hunted as he heads into the month of February as the fastest collegian to-date in the 2017 season.
Cherry even returned to help the Tigers run a seasonal best in the 4x400-meter relay as he took the baton on the second leg of LSU’s team that clocked 3:07.02 for third place in the invitational event. He joined up with sophomore Jaron Flournoy, senior Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and senior LaMar Bruton in running the NCAA’s No. 3-ranked time this season.
Brisco made a statement in scoring the women’s 60-meter title in her first competition of the season as she followed a prelim-best of 7.23 in her first race of the year with the second-fastest time in the NCAA at 7.19 in the final to finish a full tenth of a second ahead of the field. LSU sophomore Kortnei Johnson was runner-up in the final with a personal-best time of 7.29 to tie for the No. 6 position in the national rankings.
Brisco, the reigning NCAA Indoor Bronze Medalist in the event, matched the 7.19 run by Oregon’s Hannah Cunliffe two weeks ago while finishing just off the NCAA-leading 7.18 run by Kentucky’s Javianne Oliver.
The Baton Rouge native looks to have recovered from a minor injury that kept her out of the first three meets of the season as she is already within touching distance of her personal-best time of 7.17 run in the final at the NCAA Championships last March. She also ran 7.18 to win the SEC Indoor title in the event during her sophomore season.
Top 5 Relays
While the Tigers closed out the meet on the men’s side by running the third-fastest time nationally in the 4x400-meter relay, the Lady Tigers also cracked the Top 5 of the national rankings with a seasonal-best effort in the women’s invitational event as senior Jada Martin, sophomore Rachel Misher, junior Kymber Payne and senior Travia Jones placed third overall with a time of 3:33.25.
LSU won the first section in the women’s relay while beating Tennessee (3:36.46) to the finish line by more than three seconds. Southern California won the 4x400-meter relay with a time of 3:30.66 in the second heat. The Lady Tigers also trailed South Carolina in the event as the Gamecocks were runner-up to USC in 3:32.77.
A host of Tigers and Lady Tigers lined up in invitational events to close out this year’s Razorback Invitational, led by a pair of second-place finishes by senior Morgan Schuetz and freshman Ruby Stauber. Schuetz neared her personal best in the mile with a seasonal-best time of 4:40.89 for second place in the women’s invitational race, while Stauber scored the silver in the invitational 800 meters with a time of 2:05.00.
Freshman Tonea Marshall clocked a seasonal best of her own at 8.23 to finish third in the final of the women’s 60-meter hurdles, followed by fellow freshman Brittley Humphrey in sixth place with a time of 8.41. In the field events, freshman Nickolette Dunbar had her second-best throw of the season at 52 feet, 0 ½ inches for second place in the women’s shot put.
On the men’s side, senior Blair Henderson clocked a seasonal best of 1:49.00 for fifth place overall in the men’s invitational 800 meters, while senior Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake was seventh in the 60 meters in 6.79.
Other athletes setting personal bests during Saturday’s finale at the Razorback Invitational were senior Marcus Tiner with a time of 1:53.57 in the 800 meters, senior Ka’Lynn Jupiter with a run of 55.18 in the 400 meters and juniors Christian Johnson (8:23.60) and DC Lipani (8:34.96) and freshman Harrison Martingayle (8:35.43) all in the first event of the day in the 3,000 meters.
With a month of the 2017 indoor season now in the books, LSU’s athletes will be back on the road next week as they head to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for a two-day appearance at the New Mexico Collegiate Classic scheduled for Feb. 3-4 at the Albuquerque Convention Center. Selected athletes will also compete at home next Friday, Feb. 3, at the Bayou Bengal Invitational with events set to start at 12:30 p.m. in the field and 3:30 p.m. on the track at the Carl Maddox Field House in Baton Rouge.