Carter, Willie Highlight Final Day at SEC Indoors

LSU's Kelly Willie
LSU's Kelly Willie (@LSUsports) (@LSUsports)
LSU Sports Interactive

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Individual event titles by Xavier Carter and Kelly Willie plus a pair or relay crowns highlighted the final day of competition for the LSU track and field team at the SEC Indoor Championships Saturday at Florida's O'Connell Center.

LSU capped the meet with a pair of victories in the men's and women's 4x400-meter relays.

The foursome of Brooklynn Morris, Cynetheia Rooks, Juanita Broaddus and Deonna Lawrence successfully defended the Lady Tigers' relay title for a year ago earning the victory in 3:33.40.

The Tiger quartet of Kelly Willie, Reggie Dardar, Melville Rogers and Xavier Carter then took to the track and completed LSU's relay sweep, crossing the line in 3:09.67.

Carter began the day with a win in the 400 meters. The NCAA's top-ranked competitor in the event glided to a 46.98 finish to garner the first individual SEC indoor title of his career.

Willie captured an individual title of his own, easily handling the competition in the 200 meters with a time of 21.01. The pair of SEC titles marked the sixth and seventh of his career and his fourth and fifth indoors.

"To come in here are win is a blessing in itself," said Willie. "I love being out here. I love competing and I thank the Lord I could come out here and compete at this level and do my best."

Earlier in the day Willie fell just short of successfully defending his conference title in the 55-meter dash, finishing second to Auburn's Rubin Williams (6.26) by one-hundredth of a second. The Houston native still garnered All-SEC accolades for his 6.27 effort.

Freshman Ricky Jean-Francois also picked up all-conference honors in his inaugural SEC competition, placing second in the shot put with a collegiate personal best of 60-1 . The distance, which ranks as the eighth best in LSU history, also provisionally qualifies him for the NCAA Championships.

"Ricky's performance was probably our biggest one of the day," said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. "For a freshman to come into this competition and perform that well in the shot put really says something about his potential."

The points earned through Jean-Francois, Willie, Carter and the 4x400 relay spearheaded the Tigers' efforts as they finished fourth in the final team standings with 77 points.

"I don't know what else we could have done to improve on our team finish," said Shaver. "Before we came here I figured if we scored 80 points we'd be right where we wanted to be."

Arkansas won its 13th men's team crown, toppling the competition with 141 points. Tennessee earned runner-up honors (106), while Florida rounded out the top three (100).

Georgia won the women's title with 101.5 points, while Auburn placed second
(96) and South Carolina and Tennessee finished tied for third (78.5). The Lady Tigers finished the weekend in seventh place with 62.5 points.

"I think the women have to learn that coming to this kind of meet isn't just about showing up," said Shaver. "It's about preparing beforehand, knowing your competition and were you stand in that competition.

"Honestly, I feel we are the third-best team at this meet, but we just weren't able to get it done today."

LSU turned in several other individual highlights on the day.

Junior Isa Phillips just missed out on all-conference accolades, finishing third in the men's 800 meters with a time of 1:51.60.

Sophomore Kelly Baptiste turned in a pair of third-place finishes of her own in both the 55 and 200-meter dashes. The three-time All-American posted the seventh fastest time in school history in the 55 meters (6.73) before turning in a time of 23.46 in the 200.

Fellow sophomore Brooklynn Morris also scored for the Lady Tigers in both short sprint events, placing sixth in the 200 (23.66) and eighth in the 55 (6.83).

In the men's mile, senior Patrick Gavin turned in a personal-best effort of 4:03.53 to finish fourth overall. The time, also an NCAA provisional qualifying mark, ranks as the fifth fastest in Tiger school history.

Top performances for the Lady Tigers in the field events came from Andrea Linton and Kathy Coleman in the triple jump and Shaunette Davidson in the high jump.

Linton and Coleman each turned in season-best efforts as Linton finished sixth with a leap of 41-5 and Coleman followed with a personal best of 41-3 to place seventh overall.

Davidson cleared 5-7 in placing fifth in the high jump.

Also scoring for the Lady Tigers were Jessica Ohanaja in the 55-meter hurdles (4th, 7.68), Cynetheia Rooks in the 400 meters (4th, 54.06), Tanya Osbourne (7th, 2:09.72) and Meisue Francis (2:09.83) in the 800 meters and the distance medley relay (8th, 11:45.50).

Others tallying points towards the Tigers' team total included Austin Benton in the 400 meters (6th, 47.64) and the men's distance medley relay team (5th, 9.50.47).

Up next, any LSU athlete having not yet qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships will have one last opportunity to do so at either the LSU Twilight on Fri., March 3, or the Iowa State Invitational on Sat., March 4.


1. Arkansas, 141
2. Tennessee, 106
3. Florida, 100
4. LSU, 77
5. South Carolina, 63.5
6. Georgia, 48.5
7. Alabama, 43
8. Auburn, 38
9. Ole Miss, 25
10. Kentucky, 21

1. Georgia, 101.5
2. Auburn, 96
3. South Carolina, 78.5
4. Tennessee, 78.5
5. Arkansas, 73
6. Alabama, 70.5
7. LSU, 62.5
8. Florida, 45.5
9. Kentucky, 26
10. Ole Miss, 16
11. Mississippi State, 13
12. Vanderbilt, 2

Xavier Carter -- 400 meters (1st, 46.98)
Ricky Jean-Francois -- Shot put (2nd, 60-1 )
Kelly Willie -- 55 meters (2nd, 6.27); 200 meters (1st, 21.01)
4x400 Relay (1st, 3:09.67)

4x400 Relay (1st, 3:33.40)



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