T&F Climbs NCAA Event Rankings in Friday Meets
BATON ROUGE – Just six days after opening her junior season with one of the NCAA’s fastest times in the 60-meter dash at the Razorback Invitational, LSU’s Mikiah Brisco emerged as one of the nation’s top hurdlers at the Bayou Bengal Invitational on Friday as she clocked 8.14 seconds to finish as the top collegian in the final.
Brisco followed her 8.32 from the preliminary round with a time of 8.14 in the final to cross the finish line as the NCAA’s No. 10-ranked performer in the women’s 60-meter hurdles for the 2017 season.
Olympian Phylicia George was the only hurdler in the field to keep Brisco from winning her second event in as many appearances this season as the Canadian international stopped the clock first in 8.04. Brisco was one of three Lady Tigers to follow as junior Danielle Phillips ran a seasonal-best time of 8.44 for third and sophomore Brittany Kelly posted a personal best of 8.48 for fourth overall in the final.
Brisco, the most decorated Lady Tiger returning from the 2016 season, has all but assured herself of a return to the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in both of her specialty events after opening her season at the Razorback Invitational a week ago where she ran the No. 3-ranked 60-meter time in the NCAA this season at 7.19 for a commanding victory.
Brisco has certainly made the difficult double her own over the past two seasons as she became the first Lady Tiger in team history to sweep SEC Indoor titles in the 60 meters and 60 hurdles as a sophomore a year ago en route to being named the SEC Women’s Indoor Runner of the Year for 2016. She followed with a pair of All-American performances at last year’s NCAA Indoor Championships while posting personal bests of 7.17 for third in the 60 meters and 8.04 for fifth in the 60 hurdles as a national finalist in both events.
Tiger senior Johnnie Jackson stepped into the circle at the Carl Maddox Field House on Friday as the NCAA leader in the weight throw with a seasonal-best throw of 77 feet, 3 ¾ inches to his credit and two-straight wins at the Auburn Indoor Invitational and Razorback Invitational meets in recent weeks to open his 2017 season.
He made it a perfect 3-for-3 at the Bayou Bengal Invitational as he won the men’s weight throw again with a series-best mark of 74-7 ¾ for his sixth and final throw of the day to finish nearly one foot clear of Alexander Young competing unattached in second place with a top throw of the day at 73-9.
Jackson took the early lead with an opening throw of 72-4 ½ on his first attempt before being overtaken by Young with his competitor 73-1 ¾ in the second round. LSU’s All-America hopeful struck back with his mark of 73-10 ¼ in the third round and never looked back before raising his series best with a winning 74-7 ¾ on his final throw of the competition.
Jackson now owns five of the NCAA’s Top 10 weight throw marks this season following his third-straight win Friday, including an NCAA-leading throw of 77-3 ¾ and the No. 2-ranked throw of 76-1 ¾ this season.
It’s shaping up to be a two-horse race for the claim of NCAA-title favorite midway through the indoor season as Jackson and Kansas freshman Gleb Dudarev have each thrown five of the 10 leading marks nationally this season as Jackson has also thrown 74-7 ¾ for No. 6, 73-10 ¼ for No. 9 and 73-8 ¾ for No. 10. Dudarev’s seasonal-best throw of 75-5 ½ is the third best throw in the country to-date.
Like Jackson, Lady Tiger sophomore Jordan McClendon saved her best for last to win the women’s weight throw title as she unleashed a nearly four-foot personal best of 66-5 ¼ on her final throw to crack the Top 15 in the NCAA rankings this season. McClendon raised her PR from 62-10 ¾ entering the meet to 65-8 ¼ in the fifth round and 66-5 ¼ in the sixth round of Friday’s event.
That performance moved the Tulane transfer into the No. 13 spot in the national rankings for 2017 and ahead of former Lady Tiger Mallory McDonald (65-2 ¾) into the No. 2 spot on LSU’s all-time indoor list.
McClendon is working to become the first Lady Tiger to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships and contend for All-America honors in the weight throw in three years since Denise Hinton placed fifth nationally as a senior in 2014. Hinton remains LSU’s school-record holder in the women’s event with her career-best of 73-11 also set in 2014.
Bayou Bengal Champions
LSU’s other event champions at the Bayou Bengal Invitational were led by sophomore Erika Lewis and redshirt freshman Hannah Bourque as each set personal bests in their respective events on Friday night.
Lewis doubled as champion of the women’s 800 meters and mile in one of her most impressive performances as a Lady Tiger. After scoring an easy victory in the mile with her personal best at 4 minutes, 57.34 seconds, Lewis returned to the track to win the 800 meters in 2:14.33. Those times convert from the 200-meter flat track at the Carl Maddox Field House to 4:54.43 and 2:12.80, respectively, in each event.
Bourque won the women’s 3,000 meters with a time of 10:23.08 that converts to an indoor personal best of 10:17.78. Other Tigers and Lady Tigers to win events at the Bayou Bengal Invitational were senior Ka’Lynn Jupiter (1:34.49) in the women’s 600 meters, junior Christian Johnson (8:36.79) in the men’s 3,000 meters, junior Jack Wilkes (4:18.21) in the men’s mile, freshman Nickolette Dunbar (50-6) in the women’s shot put and freshman Rayvon Grey (24-5) in the men’s long jump.
Sophomore Donte Jackson has made a name for himself as one of the fastest players in college football while starting at cornerback for DBU during the 2016 season that culminated last month with a dominating victory by the Tigers over Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and top-10-ranked Louisville at the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
Jackson now looks to make his mark on the track this season as an All-America hopeful in the short sprints after making his season debut in the 60-meter dash at the New Mexico Collegiate Classic on Friday night.
Jackson was the top qualifier in the preliminary heats at the Albuquerque Convention Center as he edged senior teammate Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (6.67) at the finish line in the first preliminary heat with his season-opening time of 6.64 that has him among the Top 15 sprinters nationally in the event this year. His 6.64 adjusts for altitude to 6.66 to tie for the No. 15 spot on the national performance list in the men’s 60 meters.
Mitchell-Blake’s qualifying time of 6.67 adjusts for altitude to 6.69 for a new seasonal best in the event as he followed Jackson with the second-fastest time overall in Friday’s preliminary round.
Tiger senior Tremayne Acy also advanced from the first round of qualifying with a heat-winning time of 6.75 in the fourth section. The semifinal round of the men’s 60-meter dash will run Saturday at 12:25 p.m. CT with the final following at 2:45 p.m. Senior Keane Bland added a qualifying performance in the men’s 60-meter hurdles with the third-fastest time of the day at 8.15.
Lady Tigers Dominant
The Lady Tigers also wrote the headlines during Friday’s opener at the New Mexico Collegiate Classic as seven sprinters lining up in the first round of women’s 60-meter qualifying advanced to Saturday’s semifinals.
Junior All-American Aleia Hobbs continued to show her strength this season as she led the field with a run of 7.26 for the fastest time of the evening. Senior Jada Martin (7.35), sophomore Shayna Yon (7.47) and senior Rushell Harvey (7.43) advanced with seasonal bests, while sophomore Kortnei Johnson (7.28), freshman Cassondra Hall (7.50) and freshman Tonea Marshall (7.54) also qualified among the 16 semifinalists.
After running her second-fastest 60 meters of the year with an altitude-adjusted 7.30, Johnson wrapped up the day’s events with a fast indoor PR of 23.30 to win the women’s 200-meter title over UTEP’s Tobi Amusan (23.38) while cracking the Top 10 of the NCAA rankings. Johnson’s altitude-adjusted 23.37 tied her for the No. 10 spot on the national list with Texas A&M’s Diamond Spaulding.
Fellow sophomore Rachel Misher sprinted to an indoor personal best of her own with an altitude-adjusted 23.48 for third place overall in the women’s 200 meters. Other Lady Tigers running indoor PRs in the women’s 200 meters were senior Travia Jones (23.98) and sophomore Shayna Yon (24.62) with both times also adjusted for altitude.
Saturday in New Mexico
While the Bayou Bengal Invitational is now in the books, LSU’s athletes will return to the Albuquerque Convention Center for a second day of competition at the New Mexico Collegiate Classic on Saturday as the action kicks off at 11:45 a.m. CT with the first semifinal races on the track. Events will continue for the Tigers and Lady Tigers through the women’s 60-meter final at 2:50 p.m.