Jackson Leads Scorers on SEC Indoor Day 1
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Senior Johnnie Jackson enjoyed his first All-SEC performance with a silver-medal-winning second place finish in the weight throw, and LSU’s athletes combined for 21 qualifying performances on the track to highlight Friday’s opener at the 2017 SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Vanderbilt Multipurpose Facility.
Jackson, the NCAA leader in the weight throw this season with a best of 77 feet, 3 ¾ on the year, was honored as an All-SEC performer for the first time while throwing 73-9 for second place in Friday’s event.
The former junior college national champion took third place into the final with his best qualifying throw of 72-2 ½ in the first round, and moved into second place in the standings with his series-best mark of 73-9 in the fifth round to lock up eight points for the Tigers and his first career All-SEC award as this year’s SEC Indoor Silver Medalist.
Alabama’s Daniel Haugh took the lead in qualifying with a throw of 74-2 ¼ in the third round before clinching the title in the final round with the top throw in the field at 75-8. Georgia’s Alex Poursanidis rounded out the medalists earning All-SEC honors with his top throw of the day at 73-0 for third place.
Jackson is LSU’s first-All-SEC performer in the weight throw since former All-American Michael Lauro was a back-to-back SEC Indoor Silver Medalist as a junior in 2011 and as a senior in 2012. He will now look forward for his first NCAA Championships appearance for the Tigers when he arrives at Texas A&M’s Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium as an NCAA-title contender as the national leader in the event.
The Tigers also picked up a point from freshman Rayvon Grey making his SEC Championships debut in the men’s long jump on Friday as he opened his series with a mark of 25-2 in the first round for a seasonal best.
Grey posted two jumps over the 25-foot mark as he also skied to a distance of 25-0 ¾ for the third round to take fifth place into the finals. His opening mark of 25-2 held up for eighth place to cap his night. Florida junior KeAndre Bates won the long jump title with a mark of 26-4 ½ in the third round, while Arkansas’ Travonn White placed second at 26-0 ¼ and Texas A&M’s Will Williams placed third at 25-9 ½ to round out the medalists.
Grey’s was one of two eighth-place finishes for the on opening day of the SEC Indoor Championships as sophomore Dajour Braxton closed out the night with a point in the men’s 3,000 meters. The Las Vegas native ran a four-second indoor personal best of 8:08.55 for the eighth and final scoring position that also moved him to No. 7 on LSU’s all-time indoor performance list.
Lady Tigers On The Board
Sophomore Brittany Kelly was the first to put the Lady Tigers on the scoreboard at this year’s SEC Indoor Championships as she totaled a personal-best score of 3,881 points to grab eighth place in the pentathlon.
Kelly was quick out of the blocks as she almost matched her personal best in the 60-meter hurdles with the sixth-fastest time of the day at 8.49 for 1,019 points. She was just one one-hundredth of a second off her top time this season of 8.48 that she twice ran at the Bayou Bengal and Tyson invitationals in recent weeks.
Kelly followed with the sixth-best jump in the field in the high jump as she cleared 5-7 ½ for 879 points before also throwing a personal best of 30-5 ½ for 482 points in the shot put and jumping 18-5 for 732 points in the long jump. She then closed out the pentathlon competition by running 2:24.10 for 769 points in the 800 meters.
Kelly, who eclipsed her previous best of 3,840 points from the Razorback Invitational earlier this season, moved to No. 8 on LSU’s all-time indoor performance list in the pentathlon with her 3,881 points.
Freshman Nickolette Dunbar put two more points on the board for LSU’s women with a seventh-place finish in the women’s shot put as she threw a series best of 50-2 ¾ in the fourth round after taking eighth into the finals. The Ole Miss duo of Raven Saunders (62-6 ¾) and Janeah Stewart (56-9 ½) outclassed the field as they swept the top two spots in the competition.
Lady Tigers In The Hunt
Not only did the Lady Tigers get on the scoreboard with Kelly and Dunbar providing the points on the opening day, but LSU’s women put themselves in position to compete for their first SEC Indoor Championship since 2011 on Saturday with 11 different athletes combining for 14 qualifying performances in Friday’s preliminary races on the track.
They first stepped onto the track in the 60-meter hurdles as defending SEC Indoor Champion Mikiah Brisco led the squad with the second-fastest time of the day at 8.13. Brisco actually led a 1-2 finish for LSU in the first heat as freshman Tonea Marshall qualified fifth overall while matching her seasonal best of 8.23. Freshman Brittley Humphrey was runner-up in the second heat and seventh overall with a seasonal best of 8.29.
Brisco had no time to rest as she was quickly back on the track for the preliminary round of the 60-meter dash and turned in a heat-winning 7.28 to set up another defense of her SEC Indoor title from a year ago.
Lady Tigers will occupy five of the eight lanes in the women’s 60-meter final as Brisco will be joined by senior Jada Martin, junior Aleia Hobbs, sophomore Kortnei Johnson and freshman Cassondra Hall. Hobbs smashed her previous personal best of 7.25 from earlier this year with the fastest time of the day of 7.21 to win the fourth heat. She moved into a tie for the No. 4 spot in the NCAA rankings this season and tie for the No. 7 spot on LSU’s all-time indoor performance list in the women’s 60 meters.
Hobbs led a 1-2 finish in the fourth heat as Martin also sprinted to a personal best of 7.26 for the third-fastest time of the day and ninth-fastest time in the country in 2017. Martin was one of three LSU sprinters to post a time of 7.26 in qualifying as Johnson’s was fourth-fastest and Hall’s PR was fifth-fastest among all qualifiers. They also tied for the No. 9 spot in the NCAA rankings this season.
Both Martin and Johnson would later advance in 200-meter qualifying as Martin, the SEC leader in the event coming into the meet, won her heat with the fastest time in the field at 22.99 and Johnson grabbed seventh spot with a time of 23.61 to advance to the SEC Indoor final in the event for the second-straight season.
Senior Morgan Schuetz, who won the SEC Indoor title in the 800 meters a year ago, kept the ball rolling in mile qualifying as she was third in the first heat and third overall with a time of 4:41.35 to advance.
The Lady Tigers picked up two more qualifiers in the women’s 400 meters as senior Travia Jones advanced to her first career SEC final with the third-fastest time of the day at 53.19 to take the first heat and sophomore Rachel Misher raced to a big indoor PR of 53.53 for second place in the second heat with the fourth-best time of the prelims.
Despite lining up at the SEC Championships for the first time in Friday’s qualifying, freshman Ruby Stauber ran like a seasoned veteran in her first preliminary event as she cruised in the second heat of the women’s 800 meters with a winning time of 2:06.63 that held up for the second-fastest time of the day. Stauber will look to claim the SEC Indoor crown Schuetz relinquished by running the mile this weekend.
Tigers Qualify Seven
LSU’s qualifying on the men’s side was highlighted by three Tigers advancing to finals in both the 60-meter and 200-meter dashes with senior Blair Henderson also earning automatic qualification in the 800 meters.
Seniors Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and Tremayne Acy advanced in each of the short sprints while being joined by sophomores Donte Jackson in the 60 meters and Jaron Flournoy in the 200 meters. Mitchell-Blake ran at his personal best of 6.65 in the 60 and won his heat with a time of 20.89 in the 200 as both times proved to be the fifth-fastest of the day. Acy followed a seasonal best of 6.67 with his heat-winning indoor PR of 20.80 in the final heat of the 200 meters that tied him for No. 15 on the NCAA list this season.
Jackson, who ran his personal best of 6.63 in the SEC prelims a season ago, advanced to his second-straight SEC 60-meter final with the seventh-fastest time for the day at 6.67. Flournoy added the seventh-best time in the 200 meters with an indoor personal best of his own at 20.98 to finish runner-up in the third of nine heats.
Henderson, LSU’s indoor school record holder in the 800 meters with a best this year of 1:47.34, qualified for his third-straight SEC final in the event dating back to last year’s SEC Indoor meet when he ran 1:49.63 for his automatic qualifying performance. That time earned Henderson second place in the first heat and seventh place overall in men’s qualifying.
A total of 12 personal bests were set by LSU athletes during Friday’s opener at the SEC Indoor Championships as junior Bryiana Richardson and sophomores Oksana Lawrence and Erika Lewis enjoyed their fastest races as Lady Tigers. Lawrence (53.90) and Richardson (55.35) both ran their fastest indoor 400 meters, while Lewis (2:10.41) was just outside the qualifying places in the 800 meters.
Saturday’s action at the 2017 SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships gets underway at 11 a.m. CT with the first field event of the day followed by the first finals on the track at 2 p.m. Fans can catch the Tigers and Lady Tigers in action as the meet will be streamed live on the SEC Network+ beginning at 1:55 p.m. This year’s SEC Indoor Champions and Cliff Harper Trophy winners will be awarded at approximately 6:30 p.m.
Saturday will also be the last day for LSU’s athletes to achieve a qualifying performance for the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships that follow March 10-11 at Texas A&M’s Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium.