FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- LSU senior Trindon Holliday has waited three long years to claim the title as NCAA champion of the 100-meter dash, and on Friday night he had to wait a little longer with severe thunderstorms delaying the action once again at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships at John McDonnell Field.
The final of the men’s 100-meter dash was set to run live on CBS College Sports at 7:45 p.m. CT until a torrential downpour earlier in the afternoon forced a delay in the events on the track with a new start time of 8:50 p.m. announced for the race.
Holliday breezed through the first two rounds of qualifying on Wednesday night, clocking fastest times in each round at 10.00 seconds in the first round followed by a 10.14 in the semifinal.
It set up a much-anticipated showdown with fellow football standout and NCAA Indoor 60-meter champion Jacoby Ford of Clemson, who also cruised to victory in his qualifying heats with a time of 10.01 in the first round and a time of 10.26 in the semifinal round.
And when the runners finally took their mark, the final turned into a runaway as Holliday sprinted across the finish line in 10.00 to capture his first career individual NCAA title and become the third LSU Tiger in four years to be crowned NCAA champion in the 100-meter dash. He joins the likes of LSU greats Xavier Carter (2006) and Richard Thompson (2008) as winners of the event.
Holliday overcame an uncharacteristically slow start to catch Ford by the 40-meter mark and used his strength to surge ahead of the field with 30 meters to go for an easy victory. Ford dropped out of the race with an apparent leg injury as Holliday began to pull away with Ahmad Rashad of Southern California finishing as the NCAA runner-up with a time of 10.10.
Holliday’s official time was 9.991, but times in all sprint races are rounded up to the nearest tenth of a second in the sport of track and field, leaving him one one-thousandth shy of cracking 10.00.
For Holliday, Friday’s victory was an exclamation point onto the end of a brilliant outdoor career in an LSU uniform as he was the NCAA runner-up in 2007 before finishing third a year ago.
“I didn’t get the start that I wanted at all, but I felt like I was catching him (Ford) at 40,” Holliday said. “We were even at that point. I was just strong enough to pull away. I do feel like I executed my race better than I have all year. This is something that I’ve been working toward all year long. There have been too many seconds and thirds in the past and I wanted to get that title.
“There was some adversity. I was definitely behind coming out of the blocks, but I stayed focused and ran my race. He (Ford) was hanging in there, and all of a sudden I didn’t see him anymore.”
The 100-meter final was Holliday’s second race of the evening as he also anchored the Tigers to a NCAA runner-up finish in the 4x100-meter relay. He teamed with Barrett Nugent, Will Coppage and Armanti Hayes to run a seasonal-best time of 38.67 and score another eight points in the team standings for LSU. The Tigers entered the meet as the defending NCAA champion in the event.
Also scoring eight points for the Tigers during Friday’s championship action was sophomore stud Walter Henning, who finished as the NCAA runner-up in the men’s hammer throw.
Henning, who was the fourth-place finisher in the weight throw at the NCAA Indoor meet back in March, qualified for the final round of throws with a mark of 224 feet, 9 inches on his third throw of the preliminary round before improving to second place at 232-0 on his fifth throw of the day.
In addition, the Tigers enjoyed another outstanding day of qualifying as both of their semifinalists qualified for finals to be run on Saturday afternoon. Nugent finished third in his semifinal heat of the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 13.73 to advance to the final, and freshman Robert Simmons set a personal best of 45.84 to finish fourth and advance in his semifinal heat of the 400 meters.
After 13 events, the Tigers have racked up 30 points and trail only the Oregon Ducks in the team standings as Oregon has scored a total of 36 points for the meet.
“I can’t say enough about how the men have competed this week, and they’ve really done all that we’ve asked them to do at this meet and more,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “They have really put themselves in a position to compete tomorrow with three more chances to score. I’m so proud of the effort they have given to this point, and we hope to finish strong tomorrow.”
Sophomore Brittani Carter got the ball rolling for the Lady Tigers in the first event of the evening as she earned her second All-America honor of 2009 by tying for fifth place in the high jump.
After clearing heights of 5-8 ½, 5-9 ¾ and 5-10 ¾, Carter was on the brink of elimination with the bar resting at 6-0 and two misses to her credit. But Carter cemented her All-America status with a clearance on her third attempt to equal her own personal best in the event.
With her performance, Carter scored 2.5 points for the Lady Tigers as she finished in a four-way tie for fifth place in the final standings. This marks the second time that she has picked up All-America honors during the 2009 season after finishing third in the event at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships in College Station, Texas, back in March.
Carter is also the first Lady Tiger to earn outdoor All-America honors in 15 seasons when former LSU standout Gai Kapernick accomplished the feat in 1994.
Sophomore Kenyanna Wilson and junior Samantha Henry then stepped onto the track later in the evening for the final of the women’s 100-meter dash and added seven points toward LSU’s team total as Wilson finished third with a time of 11.30 and Henry placed eighth with a time of 11.42.
The Lady Tigers took a hit in the race for the team title when they failed to carry the stick around the track in the final of the 4x100-meter relay in the first event on the track.
Senior Monique Cabral got out of the blocks and appeared to be in position to pass the stick to Henry on the first exchange, but they were unable to connect before running outside the exchange zone and seeing their hopes of a top finish come to an end. LSU entered the event hoping to score big points in the event as the Lady Tigers had run the NCAA’s second-fastest time this year.
The foursome from Texas A&M set a new collegiate record of 42.36 to win the NCAA title in the 4x100 relay, breaking the 20-year-old mark of 42.50 set by LSU in 1989. The Lady Tiger team of Tananjalyn Stanley, Dawn Sowell, Cinnamon Sheffield and Esther Jones set the previous record.
After 13 events, the Lady Tigers currently sit in 25th place with a total of 9.5 points, while Oregon also leads the race for the women’s team title with 39 points followed by USC with 21 points.
“That’s the only thing in three days at this meet that hasn’t gone our way for either the men or the women,” Shaver said. “I’m just disappointed for them because I know they wanted to get in there and compete. I still think we’ve had a great meet and are in position to score some big points here tomorrow. It’s time for us to put today behind us and get ready to go again tomorrow afternoon.”
The 2009 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships come to an end Saturday as the meet will be broadcast live to a national television audience on CBS from 12-2 p.m. CT.