NEW YORK - It was a record-setting opener for the fifth-ranked Lady Tigers on Friday at the 2013 Armory Collegiate Invitational as seniors Kimberlyn Duncan and Charlene Lipsey set meet records and fellow senior Laura Carleton turned in a new school record while winning their events at the New Balance Track & Field Center.
Duncan broke Lady Tiger great Kelly-Ann Baptiste's meet record in winning the 60-meter title, while Lipsey eclipsed her own meet record to win the 1,000 meters and Carleton set LSU's new indoor mark in winning the 5,000 meters at The Armory for the first time in school history.
Duncan became the NCAA's No. 1-ranked 60-meter sprinter this season while leading four event winners on the day as Tiger senior Damar Forbes also defended his title in the men's long jump.
While claiming four event championships during Friday's action at The Armory, the Tigers and Lady Tigers also combined for five performances that rank among the NCAA's Top 10 in 2013.
Duncan certainly stole the show with an NCAA-leading performance in the final event of the day for the Lady Tigers as she dominated an NCAA Championship caliber field in winning the 60-meter crown. After winning her qualifying heat with the second-fastest time of the rounds at 7.33, Duncan was mistakenly assigned lane No. 8 when she returned to the track for the final. But that proved no match for the reigning NCAA Indoor 200-meter champion as she cruised to an easy victory with a meet record and personal record of 7.16.
Clemson's Dezerea Bryant, the NCAA leader entering the meet, trailed Duncan in second place at 7.26, while Portland State's Geronne Black won the bronze medal with a time of 7.30.
It marks the second-straight final in which Duncan has set a new personal best as she ran 7.22 to win the 60-meter title at the Razorback Invitational a week ago.
Duncan emerged from the event as the NCAA's No. 1-ranked performer in both the 60 meters (7.16) and 200 meters (23.15). Her winning time of 7.16 on Friday broke the previous meet record of 7.17 by Baptiste in her 2008 victory and moved her into the No. 3 spot on LSU's all-time performance list in the event.
"I wasn't expecting anything like that at all," Duncan said. "Running out there (on the outside), I thought maybe I ran 7.3 or something like that. It didn't feel like I ran that fast. I'm just so happy right now. I never thought I could contend in the 60. This is a big thing for me."
Duncan is now the third Lady Tiger to win the 60-meter title at the Armory Collegiate Invitational as she follows Baptiste (2008) and three-time champion Muna Lee (2002-04).
"For me to be up here with people like that, it just motivates me to try to achieve some of the things they did while they were here at LSU," Duncan said. "I can't wait to see what the rest of this season is going to bring. I'm feeling confident right now with what I'm able to do."
Lipsey certainly set the tone as LSU's first athlete to step onto the track at this year's Armory Collegiate Invitational as she turned in a meet-record performance in defending her 1,000-meter crown.
Lipsey took the lead coming off the very first turn of the race and never looked back as she scored a wire-to-wire victory in her final collegiate appearance at The Armory. Pushed to the finish line by the likes of Villanova's Stephanie Schappert and Iowa State's Ejiroghene Okoro, Lipsey crossed the finish line after running 2 minutes, 44.20 seconds for an easy victory as Schappert followed in second place at 2:45.65 and Okoro trailed in third place overall at 2:46.23 in the fourth section.
A product of Hempstead High School in Hempstead, N.Y., Lipsey eclipsed the previous meet record of 2:44.34 she set in winning her first career Armory Collegiate Invitational title a season ago as she will wrap up a brilliant collegiate career as a two-time 1,000-meter champion in 2012 and 2013.
"I'm trying to figure out where I am this year compared to the same time last year. Breaking my record shows me I'm in good shape," Lipsey said. "I wanted to take the lead early. In a race where there's so many other runners, you don't want to get boxed in. I wanted to set a pace where not everybody could follow, but there would be enough people to push me through."
Lipsey added that she wanted to make the home fans proud while returning to her home state for her final collegiate appearance at The Armory.
"It means a lot to win here," Lipsey said. "I've run a lot of races here over the years going back to high school. I think winning these races and setting meet records and things like that show everyone here that I made a great decision in coming to LSU. I'm proud of how far I've come since I got here."
With the track still sizzling following Lipsey's record-setting run, Carleton set a record of her own while becoming the fastest Lady Tiger in history to run the 5,000 meters indoors with her victory.
Carleton and Maine's Corey Connor separated themselves from the rest of the pack early in the 25-lap race as Carleton chose to run on the shoulder of her opponent in second place. After turning in consistent 39-second laps throughout the race, Carleton took charge with three laps to go after running 40 seconds on her 22nd trip around the oval and never relinquished her lead as she took the tape in 16:11.58 to outlast Connor's 16:14.19 for the crown. She is the first Lady Tiger to win the 5,000-meter championship at the Armory Collegiate Invitational.
Carleton, who has run a best of 16:28.08 in the 5,000 meters outdoors during her collegiate career, certainly made the most of her first career indoor 5k as she smashed the previous indoor school mark of 17:16.95 set by former Lady Tiger Bridgette Cusack back in 2000.
Not only that, but Carleton also cracked the Top 10 of the NCAA rankings with her performance as she is now the No. 7-ranked 5,000-meter runner nationally for 2013.
"I was pretty confident I was going to get the (school) record," Carleton said following the race. "My PR outdoors is 16:28, so I wanted to try and go under that. Coach (Mark Elliott) was calling out splits for each lap, and we were running even 39s every lap. We ran 40 seconds that lap, and since I felt pretty good, I decided to pass (Corey Connor). It was a pretty good race."
After setting meet and school records in their distance sweep, Lipsey and Carleton later returned to the track to pace the Lady Tigers to a seventh-place finish in the distance medley relay.
With Carleton running the 1,200-meter leadoff leg and Lipsey running the 1,600-meter anchor leg, they teamed with sophomore Montenae Roye-Speight on the 400-meter leg and junior Nikita Tracey on the 800-meter leg to run the second-fastest DMR indoors in school history at 11:22.74 for seventh place.
While the Lady Tigers were led by a trio of event winners during Friday's opener at The Armory, Forbes took flight in the long jump for the first time this season and successfully defended his meet crown in the championship final with the No. 2-ranked performance in the NCAA for 2013.
A three-time NCAA long jump silver medalist over the last two seasons, Forbes has already solidified his reputation as a national title contender after opening with a top mark of 25 feet, 10 ¼.
It marks the seventh time in the 13-year history of the Armory Collegiate Invitational that an LSU Tiger has captured the men's long jump championship as Forbes is the first two-time winner since former Tiger star John Moffitt in 2003 and 2004. Other Tigers to win the event include Walter Davis (2002), Will Coppage (2009) and Zedric Thomas (2010).
The Lady Tigers were also impressive with their performance in the long jump as junior Keri Emanuel led the way with a seventh-place finish while setting an indoor PR of 20-4 ¼. Emanuel cracked the Top 10 of the NCAA rankings with her effort as she eclipsed her previous best of 19-9 ¾ with the 10th-ranked mark nationally this season.
Another Lady Tiger who continued her climb up the national rankings with an impressive performance was junior Jasmin Stowers as the four-time SEC champion struck silver in the 60-meter hurdles final. Stowers clocked the sixth-fastest time in the NCAA this season at 8.19 to finish runner-up to Clemson's collegiate record holder Brianna Rollins (7.93).
While Stowers finished runner-up in the championship final, senior Shanekia Hall won the consolation final in the women's 60 hurdles with a strong run of 8.32.
While Duncan wrapped up the meet for the Lady Tigers with an impressive win in the 60-meter dash, the Tigers went out with a bang in their final event of the day as senior Rynell Parson and sophomore Aaron Ernest ran impressive seasonal bests in a 2-3 finish in the men's 60-meter championship.
Parson moved into a tie for the No. 13 spot in the NCAA rankings with his 6.68 seasonal best for second place, while Ernest followed in third place after setting a PR of 6.69 in the final. They were edged at the finish line by Mississippi State's D'Angelo Cherry, who took the men's title in 6.67.
"We got a lot done as a team today," said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. "We're continuing to build upon what we've done through the first three meets of the season. That's the kind of progress we've come to expect each time out. It's important for us to keep that going here tomorrow with another opportunity to compete."
Two Tigers have given themselves an opportunity to run in Saturday's championship finale as senior Caleb Williams and freshman Darrell Bush each advanced to the final of the men's 400-meter dash on the strength of their performance on Friday afternoon.
Bush raced to a new 2013 seasonal best and indoor personal record of 47.37 to win the seventh preliminary heat with the eighth-fastest time of the qualifying round. Williams grabbed the ninth and final qualifying spot for the final with a preliminary run of 47.43 in a runner-up finish in the sixth heat.
The action at the 13th-annual Armory Collegiate Invitational continues early Saturday morning as the LSU Track & Field teams open the competition at 7:45 a.m. CT in the field events followed by their first events on the track at 8:46 a.m. Live results of Saturday's finale will be available online at the official website of The Armory at www.armorytrack.com.