FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Senior Charlene Lipsey and junior Natoya Goule turned in the NCAA's two fastest times in the 800-meter run while making their 2013 debut in the event and the LSU Track & Field teams combined for seven Top 10 performances nationally during Saturday's finale at this year's Razorback Invitational.
The Lady Tiger duo staked their claim as the early-season favorites to wear the NCAA 800-meter crown with a dominating performance in Saturday's invitational race at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
Both Goule and Lipsey battled one another for the top spot on the award's podium from the opening gun as it was Goule outlasting Lipsey for this year's 800-meter title at the Razorback Invitational with each NCAA contender setting a new indoor personal record in the race.
Goule smashed her previous indoor best of 2 minutes, 5.79 seconds by more than two seconds with a season-opening run of 2:03.49 to catapult herself to the top of the NCAA rankings. Lipsey set a new indoor PR of her own as she followed Goule in second place with a 2:03.76 debut to take her place in the No. 2 spot in the NCAA for 2013.
Their performance also ranks No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, on LSU's all-time indoor performance list in the women's 800-meter run.
The middle distance stars were among seven NCAA Top 10 performances turned in by the Tigers and Lady Tigers on the final day of this year's Razorback Invitational as senior Kimberlyn Duncan (60 meters); juniors Keri Emanuel (triple jump), Denise Hinton (weight throw) and Jasmin Stowers (60 hurdles); and the Lady Tigers' 4x400-meter relay each cemented their position among the nation's elite with their effort in Saturday's finale in Fayetteville.
"We both knew we were going to run fast today. We were ready," Goule said following the race. "That was a fast race today. We train together every day, so we both know what we're capable of in that kind of a race. We went out and did exactly what we wanted to do today. I'm glad I get to train with Charlene so we can keep pushing each other."
Both athletes spoke of the impact of their training with one another as a catalyst for such a strong season-opener.
Lipsey has earned three All-America honors during her collegiate career at LSU, including a silver-medal-winning runner-up finish in the 800-meter final at the NCAA Outdoor Championships a season ago. Goule signed with LSU as the reigning junior college national champion at South Plains College with a lifetime PR of 2:01.45 in the event.
"It's really beneficial for both of us," Lipsey said of training each day with someone of Goule's class. "We go into a race like that with a gameplan, and did a pretty good job of executing the race today. We both have strengths and weaknesses, so I think we really help each other out a lot over the course of a race."
Goule and Lipsey even pulled double-duty on Saturday while running for the Lady Tigers on their 4x400-meter relay that set a new seasonal-best in a fourth-place finish.
Lipsey split 54.51 seconds on the second leg before Goule anchored with a 52.41-second split as they teamed with senior Siedda Herbert (55.29) and sophomore Montenae Roye-Speight (54.24) in setting the NCAA's sixth-fastest time this season at 3:36.45 to finish in fourth place behind Florida (3:31.68), Texas (3:31.69) and Arizona (3:36.35).
"It really helps us with our speed work," Goule said of their experience running a leg on the 4x400 relay. "I'm also happy to help our team in any way that I can. If that means they need me to run a leg for the relay, I'll do it. It's just another way I can improve myself for the 800."
Just one week after moving to the top of the NCAA rankings with a season-opening run of 23.15 seconds in winning the 200 meters at Texas A&M, Lady Tiger junior Kimberlyn Duncan emerged as a NCAA title contender in the 60-meter dash with a dominating victory at the Razorback Invitational.
After running the fastest qualifier of 7.40 in Friday's preliminary round, Duncan cruised into the final in 7.28 for an easy win in the second semifinal heat.
She then returned to the track and dominated the field with a PR of 7.22 to finish the meet as the NCAA's No. 3-ranked sprinter in the 60-meter dash. Senior teammate Takeia Pinckney was second in the 60-meter final after running back-to-back seasonal-bests of 7.40, while junior Toshika Sylvester took eighth place in the final at 7.57.
A two-time defending NCAA Indoor champion at 200 meters, Duncan is poised to add the NCAA 60-meter crown to her resume as she trails the 7.19 run by Clemson's Dezerea Bryant and Central Florida's Octavious Freeman in the national rankings for 2013.
Duncan's career-best time of 7.22 also ties her for the No. 6 spot on LSU's all-time performance list in the event.
Ernest claimed second place in the first semifinal race with a lifetime best and the eighth-fastest performance in Tiger history at 6.70. He then clocked a 6.71 in the men's 60-meter final for a silver-medal-winning runner-up finish to Florida State's Marvin Bracy (6.61) for the event crown.
Forbes posted back-to-back personal bests with a run of 6.84 in the semifinal round and 6.77 in the final en route to a sixth-place finish overall. Joining his teammates in the 60-meter final was Tiger senior Rynell Parson, who stopped the clock in 6.76 in the final to earn a fifth-place finish for his efforts.
The LSU hurdlers also turned in some of the NCAA's leading performances for the 2013 season as all three athletes advanced to Saturday's finals in the 60-meter hurdles.
Junior Jasmin Stowers led the way as she cracked the Top 10 of the NCAA rankings for the first time this year with a seasonal-best run of 8.25 for second place in the women's final. She became the ninth-fastest hurdler in the country for 2013 while finishing runner-up in the race to Baylor's event champion Tiffani McReynolds (8.10).
After running the 15th-fastest time in the NCAA with a seasonal-best of 8.31 in the semifinal round, senior Shanekia Hall took fourth place in the final after running 8.32 in her second race of the day.
Sophomore Joshua Thompson continued to show improvement while running in the semifinal and final rounds of the men's 60-meter hurdles, securing a fourth-place finish with a top time this season of 7.89 in the final. Thompson finished fourth to Arkansas' Caleb Cross (7.69), Florida's Eddie Lovett (7.70) and Texas' Keiron Stewart (7.85) with the seventh-fastest time in school history.
It was the Lady Tigers setting the pace in the field events with a pair of Top 10 performances in the NCAA this season by both Emanuel and Hinton.
Emanuel smashed her indoor PR in a runner-up finish in the women's triple jump as she posted her best mark of the day at 42 feet, 8 ¾ inches in the fifth round of jumps. She finished runner-up to Cierra Brewer of Florida (42-10 ¼) with the No. 9-ranked performance in LSU history in the event. Lady Tiger junior Lynnika Pitts followed in fifth place while matching her seasonal-best of 40-6.
Emanuel actually recorded five jumps for her series that eclipsed her previous indoor PR of 41-1 as she jumped 42-1 ½ on her second jump, 42-4 ¼ on her third jump and 42-5 ½ on her fourth jump before a best of 42-8 ¾ on her fifth jump and finishing with a mark of 42-6 ¼ on her sixth jump.
Hinton enjoyed an impressive series of her own in winning her third-straight women's weight throw title of 2013 with a seasonal-best mark of 67-6.
Hinton quickly moved into the Top 10 of the NCAA rankings at No. 8 after throwing her seasonal-best of 67-6 in the second round as she took the title by just 1 ¼ inches over the mark of 67-4 ¾ by Baylor standout Erin Atkinson. Hinton also followed with a mark of 67-1 ½ on her third attempt that eclipsed her previous seasonal best of 65-1 ¼ entering the meet.
"We had a number of athletes really step up their game today and put themselves in a great position to qualify for the NCAA Championships," said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. "We put a big emphasis in our program of not only showing consistency week-to-week, but also getting a little bit better as a team each time we compete.
"I thought our athletes did a great job of that today. I'm proud with how far we've come in such a short amount of time. We'll look to take another big step as a team next weekend."
Lady Tiger senior Laura Carleton led a host of other athletes setting personal records during Saturday's finale in Fayetteville.
Carleton is now on the cusp of a Top 10 ranking in the NCAA this season after claiming a fourth-place finish in the women's invitational 3,000 meters. She slashed nearly eight seconds from her PR heading into the meet as she crossed the finish line in 9:21.92 to pull to within three seconds of Lisa Reed's indoor school record of 9:19.11 set back in 1987.
Carleton also cracks the NCAA rankings at No. 13 following her first 3,000-meter race of the 2013 season.
Other LSU athletes setting indoor PRs on Saturday afternoon include senior Dakota Goodman (10:08.76) and junior Laura Aleman (10:17.56) in the 3,000 meters, sophomore Quincy Downing (47.38) in the 400 meters and both sophomore Barrett Miller (4:16.36) and freshman Andria Aguilar (5:03.39) in the mile.
In all, the Tigers and Lady Tigers combined to set 29 indoor personal bests on the weekend, including eight LSU all-time Top 10 performances and seven NCAA Top 10 performances.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers will head back on the road next weekend as they make their annual trip to the New Balance Track & Field Center, better known as The Armory, in New York City for The Armory Collegiate Invitational that is scheduled to run from Feb. 1-2. The teams will then return to Fayetteville in two weeks for the Tyson Invitational being held at the Randal Tyson Track Center.