Hobbs Highlights Historic SEC Relays Finale
BATON ROUGE – LSU junior Aleia Hobbs anchored the Lady Tigers to a collegiate-record-tying 42.12 seconds to win the 4x100-meter relay before doubling with the second-fastest wind-legal time in NCAA history at 10.85 to headline a historic finale Saturday at the inaugural SEC Relays at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium.
LSU's teams hit their stride in their final competition before the SEC Championships in two weeks as they closed out the inaugural SEC Relays with five individual and four relay championships for their efforts.
After matching the collegiate record of 42.12 in the 4x100-meter relay, the Lady Tigers added wins in the 4x200-meter relay with a time of 1 minute, 30.60 seconds and shuttle hurdle relay with the seventh-fastest time in collegiate history at 53.13. The Tigers completed the sweep of sprint-relay titles with a winning 38.88 in the men's 4x100-meter relay.
Hobbs wrote the headlines with a personal best of 10.85 (+2.0) in the women's 100-meter dash after senior Blair Henderson and freshman Ruby Stauber won both 1,500 meters, senior Rebekah Wales secured another victory in the women's javelin and senior Johnnie Jackson opened the day with a win in the men's hammer throw.
Texas A&M captured the team championship at the inaugural SEC Relays as the Aggie men and women combined for 136 points in the final relay tally. LSU wrapped up second place with 115 points ahead of Arkansas in third place with 102 points, Mississippi State in fourth place with 84 points and Alabama well back in fifth place with 45 points.
Rounding out the team scores were Ole Miss in sixth place with 29.5 points, Tennessee in seventh place with 24.5 points, Kentucky in eighth place with 19 points and Vanderbilt in ninth with 17 points.
Collegiate Record Relay
The Lady Tigers' school record in the 4x100-meter relay coming into the 2017 season stood for 28 years since Tananjalyn Stanley, Dawn Sowell, Cinnamon Sheffield and Esther Jones ran 42.50 way back in 1989. That was until junior Mikiah Brisco, sophomore Kortnei Johnson, senior Jada Martin and Hobbs teamed for the second-fastest time in collegiate history at 42.14 at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 15.
That's also where Oregon beat LSU for the event title with a collegiate record of 42.12 in what proved to be the fastest relay race ever run at the NCAA level. Texas A&M's 42.36 from 2009 was a distant memory.
LSU's school record stood exactly two weeks this time around as Brisco, Johnson, Martin and Hobbs again combined to equal Oregon's NCAA mark of 42.12 during Saturday's finale at the SEC Relays. They also smashed their own Bernie Moore Stadium record of 42.66 from the Battle on the Bayou earlier this season. The Lady Tigers were never challenged Saturday as Texas A&M (43.01) was nearly a second back as the runner-up.
“Honestly, we didn't think we would run that fast with the wind that we had,” Hobbs said. “With me running into a headwind, I was kind of nervous and just hoping I could get through it strong. We ran well.”
Brisco was a part of two winning relays on the day as she ran the third leg of LSU's shuttle hurdle relay that clocked the top time by a collegiate team this season at 53.13 to finish well in front of Arkansas's time of 55.25 for the win. Junior Danielle Phillips, freshman Brittley Humphrey and freshman Tonea Marshall were also part of the seventh-fastest shuttle hurdle relay in NCAA history.
The Lady Tigers were three-time relay champions on the afternoon as Johnson also ran the third leg and Martin ran the anchor leg of LSU's 4x200-meter relay team that clocked the fifth-fastest time in school history at 1:30.60 as the only team to finish the race. Freshman Cassondra Hall led off with sophomore Rachel Misher running the second leg.
No Slowing Down
Hobbs was only getting warmed up as she made history with the fastest 100 meters ever run by a college sprinter at low altitude with a personal best of 10.85 to overtake Oregon's Deajah Stevens for the NCAA lead in the event this season. It was also the fastest 100 meters ever run at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium as Hobbs took down Kimberlyn Duncan's mark of 10.96 from the 2012 SEC Championships.
Only the collegiate record of 10.78 set by LSU great Dawn Sowell at the 1989 NCAA Championships at BYU separates Hobbs from the top of the NCAA's all-time rankings in the women's 100-meter dash.
Kentucky's Destiny Carter finished two tenths of a second back in second place with the third-fastest time in the country this season at 11.05, while Crystal Emmanuel running for Athletics Canada placed third overall as she clocked a heat-winning 11.06 (+5.8) in the second heat. Kentucky's Javianne Oliver was third in the first heat and fourth overall at 11.16.
“I'm getting better every meet,” Hobbs said of her progression meet-to-meet this outdoor season. “This was a great practice meet for us to get ready for the SEC meet. Next week we have finals and stuff, so we want to work on finals and prepare well on the track, too, to get ready for SECs.”
With the Bernie Moore Stadium track still sizzling from the Lady Tigers' record-setting relay, the Tigers completed LSU's sweep of 4x100-meter relay wins as sophomore Donte Jackson, senior Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, senior Tremayne Acy and sophomore Jaron Flournoy edged Arkansas (38.95) for the men's title. Athletics Canada was third in 39.19 followed by Texas A&M in fourth at 39.31.
The Tigers (38.88) follow with a narrow win over Arkansas (38.95) in the men's 4x1! Athletics Canada (39.19) 3rd & Texas A&M (39.31) 4th. pic.twitter.com/BWgrjnl0Wd— LSUTrackField (@LSUTrackField) April 29, 2017
Saturday also saw Acy and Jackson both line up in the 100-meter dash for the first time this season as Acy won the second heat with a wind-aided time of 10.13 (+2.9) to place third overall and Jackson crossed the finish line first in the third heat with a wind-legal PR of 10.22 (+1.6) for sixth in the standings. Tennessee's Christian Coleman (9.93w) and Mississippi State's Lawrence Crawford (9.97w) finished 1-2 in the first heat.
Thanks to their season-opening performance at the SEC Relays, Acy entered the NCAA rankings at No. 11 while Jackson cracked the nation's Top 25 at No. 25 among times entering the weekend.
The Tigers closed out the inaugural SEC Relays by running their fastest 4x400-meter relay of the season as the event produced the two fastest times in the NCAA in 2017. While Texas A&M won the race with a national-leading 3:00.74, LSU's team of senior LaMar Bruton (46.56), Flournoy (45.94), Mitchell-Blake (45.72) and senior Michael Cherry (44.61) clocked 3:02.80 for the No. 2-ranked time in the NCAA this spring.
They cut nearly a second and a half from their previous seasonal-best time of 3:04.19 from the Mt. SAC Relays two weeks ago. Arkansas finished third in the men's 4x400-meter relay final with a time of 3:04.20.
Saturday's action kicked off in the men's hammer throw as Jackson, the NCAA Indoor Champion in the weight throw, outlasted Tennessee's Cameron Brown (223-8) for the win as he threw a series-best of 225 feet, 11 inches on his third throw of the qualifying round. Jackson's series also featured marks of 220-6 in the fifth round and 223-1 in the sixth round of the final.
Henderson and Stauber made it five-straight wins to start the day for LSU with their double in the 1,500 meters immediately following the 4x100-meter relays on the track. Stauber struck first in the event with her time of 4:24.82 in the women's 1,500 meters to beat Arkansas' Sydney Brown (4:27.45), while Henderson followed with a winning run of 3:49.03 to edge Alabama's Alfred Chelanga (3:49.11) in the men's event.
LSU's winning streak at the start of the day extended to six-straight events when the Lady Tigers crossed the finish line first in the women's 4x200 relay. It ended with the Tigers' second place in the men's 4x200.
Wales stepped onto the javelin runway at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium for the final time in her collegiate career, and she made it an event to remember while throwing her second-best mark of the season at 186-4 to take the title by nearly 14 feet over Texas A&M's Audrey Malone (172-10) in second place. Wales left no doubt in the minds of her competitors as she opened at 186-4 on her very first attempt.
The NCAA's leading javelin thrower this season, Wales now owns the four best throws in the country after throwing 186-4 on Saturday afternoon. She also threw her PR of 188-0 at the Texas Relays on March 31 before adding marks of 183-2 at the Beach Invitational and 185-7 at the LSU Alumni Gold the last two weeks.
Other athletes impressing in the field events were senior Nataliyah Friar with a seasonal-best wind-aided jump of 43-7 ¼ (+4.6) for second place in the women's triple jump and freshman Nickolette Dunbar with a new outdoor personal best of 53-7 ¾ for fifth place in the women's shot put. Dunbar's outdoor best moved her up a spot to No. 3 on LSU's all-time outdoor performance list in the event.
With the inaugural SEC Relays now in the books, LSU's teams will journey to Columbia, South Carolina, in two weeks for the 2017 SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships set for May 11-13 at Weems Baskin Track. The championship season continues May 25-27 with the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds being held at the University of Kentucky.
The semifinal and final rounds at the 2017 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships return to Oregon's Hayward Field again this year as the finale of the collegiate season follows June 7-10.