Track & Field Qualifies Seven at NCAA Indoors
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The LSU Track & Field teams kicked off the 2017 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships by qualifying seven athletes in Friday’s preliminary races on the track as the No. 4 Lady Tigers advanced four and the No. 12 Tigers qualified three at Texas A&M’s Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium.
LSU’s teams will compete with a combined 11 scoring chances in Saturday’s finale with their seven qualifiers in individual events on the track, two field-event athletes and two 4x400-meter relays.
Reigning NCAA Indoor Bronze Medalist Mikiah Brisco earned a return trip to the women’s 60-meter final along with sophomore Kortnei Johnson qualifying for an NCAA final for the first time. Senior Jada Martin earned a spot in the women’s 200-meter final, while freshman Ruby Stauber advanced in the women’s 800 meters in her debut appearance at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Each of the three Tigers that ran in Friday’s qualifying races on the track advanced to their respective finals led by returning NCAA medalists Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (200 meters) and Michael Cherry (400 meters). The day was also highlighted by fellow senior Blair Henderson qualifying for his first career NCAA final in the men’s 800 meters.
The Lady Tigers ended the night by lining up in their first final of the championship in the women’s distance medley relay as they earned a 10th-place finish nationally in the event for the second-straight season.
Johnson and Martin both advanced with their fastest indoor races in an LSU uniform as Martin won her heat in the 200 meters with the third-fastest time of the day at 22.85 seconds and Johnson clocked a PR of 7.21 to advance sixth overall in the 60 meters. Martin’s indoor PR of 22.85 moved her to No. 6 on LSU’s all-time indoor list in the event, while Johnson’s 7.21 tied her for the No. 8 spot in school history.
Brisco will join Johnson in the final of the women’s 60-meter dash on Saturday as she crossed the finish line in 7.24 for sixth place in the first heat and seventh place overall as she seeks a seventh All-America honor.
Johnson and Martin were not the only LSU athletes to qualify for their first finals at the NCAA Indoor Championships as Stauber and Henderson both turned in qualifying performances in the 800 meters to help set the pace on the opening day of the competition while advancing to the first NCAA finals of the their collegiate careers.
Stauber was the first to line up in the event as she ran alongside senior Morgan Schuetz in the first heat of the women’s 800 meters and turned in an automatic qualifying time of 2 minutes, 4.59 seconds for third place. Stauber’s time was the third-fastest between the two heats as she easily qualified for her first national final in her debut appearance at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Schuetz, making her third-straight appearance in the 800 meters at the NCAA Indoor Championships, just missed advancing on time as she placed ninth overall between the two heats with a time of 2:05.82.
Henderson followed by lining up in the second heat of the men’s 800 meters and advancing on time with his run of 1:48.23 for fifth place in the heat and fifth place overall. The top-three finishers in each prelim section plus the next two fastest times earned qualification in the event as Henderson’s 1:48.23 for fifth in the first heat was even faster than the time of 1:48.29 turned in by Georgetown’s Joseph White to win the second.
Stauber and Henderson are both poised to earn their first All-America honors after turning in a pair of All-SEC performances as the SEC Indoor Silver Medalists in the 800 meters at the SEC meet two weeks ago.
The Tigers scored all 28 of their points in the sprints and relays in a fourth-place team finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships a year ago, and they will compete for a top finish once again on Saturday after Cherry and Mitchell-Blake both advanced with the fourth-fastest times of the day in their respective events.
Cherry made amends from his disappointment of not qualifying for the 400-meter final at the SEC Indoor Championships two weeks ago by clocking his seasonal-best time of 45.81 to win the third heat with the fourth-fastest time in the men’s field. He will line up in Saturday’s final as the reigning NCAA Indoor Bronze Medalist in the event from a season ago.
Mitchell-Blake, the reigning NCAA Indoor Silver Medalist in the men’s 200 meters, also won the third heat of his event with the fourth-best time of the qualifying round at 20.55 to earn a return to the NCAA final.
Not only are they set to line up in their individual finals once again on the final day of this year’s NCAA Indoor Championships, but they are also likely to feature on LSU’s defending NCAA Indoor Champion 4x400-meter relay team along with senior LaMar Bruton and sophomore Jaron Flournoy as the eighth-fastest time lining up in the NCAA field.
Distance Medley Relay
The Lady Tigers closed out the meet by running the third-fastest time in school history in the distance medley relay as Stauber (1,200 meters), senior Travia Jones (400 meters), sophomore Erika Lewis (800 meters) and Schuetz (mile) crossed the finish line in 11:06.83 for 10th place overall.
Stauber led off in 3:24.31 before Jones gave the Lady Tigers a nearly one-second lead at the second exchange with her 53.40-second carry for the 400-meter leg. Lewis followed with a 2:09.50 split for the 800-meter leg ahead of Schuetz’s 4:39.64 on the mile to cross the finish line in 10th place. Colorado took the tape in 11:00.34 ahead of Stanford (11:00.36) in second and Oregon (11:00.68) in third.
Other finishers in Friday’s qualifying on the track included Hobbs (7.26) in ninth, Martin (7.34) in 13th and freshman Cassondra Hall (7.35) in 15th in the women’s 60-meter dash; Brisco (8.20) in 13th in the women’s hurdles and Johnson (23.34) in 13th place in the women’s 200-meter dash. LSU’s teams combined to qualify seven of their 14 semifinalists lining up on the track in Friday’s opener.
Saturday’s finale at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships will bring an end to the 2017 indoor season as senior Johnnie Jackson kicks off the action for LSU’s teams at 2 p.m. CT in the preliminary round of the men’s weight throw. The Tigers and Lady Tigers have also combined for seven individuals and two relays in finals on the track as events are scheduled to begin at 4:20 p.m.
ESPN3.com will broadcast live streaming video of the final day at the NCAA Indoor Championships beginning at 3:55 p.m. CT and running through the men’s 4x400-meter relay at approximately 7 p.m. Live results can be found on the official website for Flash Results at http://www.flashresults.com throughout the remainder of the meet.