Four Wins Highlight Texas Relays Finale
AUSTIN, Texas – The LSU Track & Field teams closed out the 90th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays with four wins Saturday as the Tigers swept 4x100-meter and 4x200-meter relays, the Lady Tigers took home the 4x800-meter relay and sophomore Kortnei Johnson dominated the women’s 100-meter dash on the final day of the meet.
LSU added to its tradition as one of the most decorated teams to compete at the Texas Relays with a total of 81 relay titles and 78 individual titles in University finals in the history of the meet.
Their performance added to wins by junior Kymber Payne in the women’s 400-meter hurdles and the men’s distance medley relay on Friday night as LSU’s athletes totaled six wins for the week in another outstanding trip to Mike A. Myers Stadium. They also combined for two NCAA leaders, seven NCAA Top 5s and 10 all-conditions personal bests in four days of action.
Men’s 4x200 Relay
There was no doubt which team would win the men’s 4x200-meter relay when senior Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake took the baton with a lead on the anchor leg as the Olympic semifinalist powered the Tigers well in front of Texas A&M’s anchor Elijah Morrow and through the finish line with the third-fastest time in school history at 1 minute, 20.82 seconds.
Senior Michael Cherry gave the Tigers a strong leadoff leg before junior Tinashe Mutanga and sophomore Jaron Flournoy gave way to Mitchell-Blake with a comfortable lead on the anchor. The Aggies followed second with a time of 1:22.28 ahead of BYU in third at 1:23.38 and Texas-San Antonio in fourth at 1:23.67.
The Tigers picked up their second 4x200-meter relay title at the Texas Relays in three years and their 11th win in the event all-time after last winning the men’s University final two seasons ago in 2015.
The Lady Tigers followed with a sixth-place finish in the women’s 4x200-meter relay finals as freshman Cassondra Hall, Johnson, sophomore Rachel Misher and senior Rushell Harvey clocked 1:36.06 in the event. Texas A&M returned the favor in the women’s race with a new Texas Relays meet record of 1:29.89.
The Tigers completed the sprint relay sweep when Mutanga (first leg), Mitchell-Blake (second leg) and Flournoy (anchor leg) all returned to the track along with senior Tremayne Acy (third leg) for the final of the Clyde Littlefield Men’s 4x100-Meter Relay Final after qualifying with the fastest time from Friday’s preliminary round at 39.23.
They teamed to run the second-fastest time in the NCAA this season with a 38.97 in the final, taking the title by more than a half second ahead of the homestanding Texas Longhorns in second place at 39.49. The Tigers ended a run of nine seasons without a win in the men’s 4x100-meter relay as they picked up their ninth in meet history and first since winning five-straight from 2004-08.
Flournoy and Cherry would later close out the meet by joining seniors Blair Henderson and LaMar Bruton in the Tigers’ season-opening mile relay as they clocked 3:06.10 for fourth place in the Cleburne Price, Jr. Men’s 4x400-Meter Relay. Texas A&M won it in 3:01.74, while the Tigers also followed Baylor (3:03.11) and Texas Tech (3:03.28) across the finish line.
As they were for much of the afternoon, LSU and Texas A&M were again the class of the field in the Carlette Guidry Women’s 4x100-Meter Relay Final with the Aggies claiming the crown by a split-second.
Junior Mikiah Brisco led off for the Lady Tigers with Johnson returning for the second leg and senior Jada Martin and junior Aleia Hobbs bringing home the baton with a seasonal best of 42.86 after advancing Friday with the top time in qualifying at 43.25. Aaliyah Brown edged Hobbs at the finish line with a winning time of 42.82 for Texas A&M, while Texas was more than one second back in third place at 43.99.
Johnson Wins 100
While Johnson came up short in her bid for a relay title at this year’s Texas Relays, she was unchallenged in the women’s 100-meter final as she followed her PR of 11.13 (+1.9) in Friday’s qualifying with a winning run of 11.19 (+1.0) on Saturday to finish well in front of Baylor’s Taylor Bennett (11.34). Texas A&M’s Brenessa Thompson and Aaliyah Brown were third and fourth, respectively, at 11.45.
An LSU sprinter has now been crowned the Texas Relays Champion in the women’s University 100-meter dash 11 times in meet history as Johnson became the first since the great Kimberlyn Duncan in 2013.
Also lining up for LSU in the final of the women’s 100-meter dash was Harvey, who crossed seventh with a time of 11.56. Hobbs did not start the race after qualifying second Friday with a wind-aided opener of 11.20.
Brisco Blasts PR in Hurdles
Brisco came away from the 90th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays with the two fastest hurdle times of her collegiate career as she followed a wind-aided 12.93 (+3.6) in Friday’s qualifying with a wind-legal personal-best run of 12.85 (-0.3) for third place in Saturday’s University final.
LSU’s seven-time All-American ran shoulder-to-shoulder with UTEP’s NCAA leader Tobi Amusan through eight hurdles in the race before the Miner sophomore pulled ahead over the last two for a winning 12.72. Texas rookie Rushelle Burton was second with a time of 12.80, while Brisco followed in third place with the fastest hurdle race of her career at 12.85.
Brisco walked off the track at Mike A. Myers Stadium ranked No. 4 in the NCAA for the 2017 season and tied for the No. 7 spot on LSU’s all-time outdoor performance list in the women’s 100-meter hurdles.
Women’s 4x800 Relay
The Lady Tigers’ impressive win in the women’s 4x800-meter relay final was certainly a sign of things to come in Saturday’s finale as sophomore Erika Lewis, sophomore Hollie Parker, freshman Ruby Stauber and senior Morgan Schuetz stormed to victory in LSU’s first event of the day with a gold-medal-winning time of 9:39.57.
Lewis (2:11.90) and Parker (2:11.08) put the team within striking distance in third place through two legs before Stauber, the fifth-place finisher nationally at the NCAA Indoor Championships last month, surged into the lead at the final exchange with a 2:09.27 carry on the third leg. Schuetz (2:07.34) extended LSU’s lead down the homestretch and crossed the finish line more than two seconds ahead of Clemson at 9:41.68.
Their victory handed LSU its second relay title of the weekend and their 79th all-time at the Texas Relays as the Tigers were crowned champions in the men’s distance medley relay on Friday night.
The Lady Tigers have now won the women’s 4x800-meter relay at the Texas Relays six times in their history as Lewis, Parker, Stauber and Schuetz claimed their first since the 2013 season. LSU also claimed the crown at the Texas Relays in 1985, 2008, 2009 and 2011 as one of the winningest teams in the event.
Closing It Out
In other action, Mutanga clocked a wind-aided 10.48 (+2.1) for sixth place in the men’s 100-meter final just one day after sprinting to a seasonal best of 10.38 (+1.4) in the qualifying round. LSU also featured the eighth-place finisher in both the men’s and women’s long jump and women’s shot put. Freshman Rayvon Grey jumped 24 feet, 8 ¼ inches and senior Nataliyah Friar jumped 19-10 ¼ in their season openers, while rookie Lady Tiger Nickolette Dunbar threw the shot 49-7 ¾ in her outdoor debut.
LSU’s teams return to Baton Rouge next weekend for their outdoor home opener as they play host to the seventh-annual Battle on the Bayou on Saturday, April 8, at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium. They follow with a Spring Break trip to the West Coast as they are set to compete at the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, California, running April 13-15.