AUSTIN, Texas -- The LSU men's 4x400-meter relay closed out the 79th Annual Clyde Littlefield Relays with a bang on Saturday, crossing the finish line in a smoking 3:02.31.
Over 20,000 fans packed into Mike A. Myers Stadium and saw Reginald Dardar, Melville Rogers, Xavier Carter and Kelly Willie turn in a new nation leading time over a field that featured four teams from last year's national championship final. The time also ranks as the sixth fastest in the world this year.
Despite running the fifth fastest time in LSU history, the women's 4x400 did not take home the relay crown for the first time this year. Juniors Meisue Francis and Cynetheia Rooks joined with sophomores Brooklynn Morris and Deonna Lawrence to run an amazing 3:28.23 as the women's streak of nine straight event crowns ended.
"It was a great performance," said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. "I know for a fact that is the fastest LSU has ever run at the Texas Relays. The only other time that we've run faster than that is at the NCAA Championships."
The quartet found themselves in fifth after the lane break and had to climb out of a hole for the rest of the race. Rooks brought her team up to second heading into the final lap but the Lady Tigers could not catch up to the eventual winner Miami (3:28.07).
The All-American Baptiste clocked one of the most impressive individual times of the day, crossing the finish line in 11.14 during the women's 100-meter. The Trinidad native found herself out leaned at the finish line by Texas' Marshevet Hooker in a photo finish. The duo now sits one-two atop the national performance list.
Baptiste currently holds the eighth fastest time in LSU history, improving on her mark set last year. The young sophomore is gaining ground on former LSU great Esther Jones, who sits in seventh with a time of 11.11.
The Lady Tiger quartet of Sherry Fletcher, Baptiste, Cynetheia Rooks and Brooklynn Morris easily claimed the 4x200-meter crown. The women combined to run 1:32.70 in the half-mile event, outrunning the nearest competitor by nearly two seconds.
The men's 4x100-meter relay completed the one lap race in a blazing time of 38.97, a new nation leading mark. The quartet of Richard Thompson, Tyler Sant, Willie and Marvin Stevenson held off a strong push from UTEP to bring home the event crown for the third straight year.
With the win, LSU became the first school since Texas A&M in 1980 to win both the 4x100- and the 4x400-meter relays. It is the fifteenth time that one school has swept both relays in the 81 year history of the meet.
Willie returned to light up the track on his own in the men's 100-meter finals. The All-American from Houston claimed his third consecutive event title with an amazing time of 10.18. This is the Texas native's last trip to the Texas Relays.
"To win the 4x100-, the 4x400- and to be the open 100-meter champion is huge. I'm really happy for Kelly," said Shaver. "We switched the order up in the 4x400(-meter relay) so Kelly could anchor. The guys wanted to see him carry the baton across the finish line."
The Lady Tigers 4x100-meter squad picked up a second place finish, crossing the finish line in 43.48. The foursome of Jessica Ohanaja, Morris, Fletcher and Baptiste nearly closed the gap on host Texas, who led from the third turn to the finish line.
Ohanaja didn't leave the track for long. The sophomore set a new personal and season best in the 100-meter hurdles, turning in an impressive time of 13.14, good for third place in the event.
Tiger Isa Phillips finished fourth overall in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 50.83. The junior, who entered the LSU record book with his mark on Thursday, moved up another spot to eighth all-time in LSU history.
The Lady Tiger distance medley relay team of Lindsay Day, Meisue Francis, Monique Cabral and Katie Dawson clocked an impressive 12:06.84 in the lengthy race. The mark ranks sixth all-time in LSU history.
Next up for LSU, the team will travel to Coral Gables, Fla., to compete in the Gatorade Classic next Saturday, April 15.