BATON ROUGE - Lady Tiger freshman Alex Gochenour kicked off the 2012 SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships by scoring a Day 1 personal record of 3,252 points in the women's heptathlon while wrapping up the first four events in fifth place overall after Thursday's action.
Fellow freshman Kaitlyn Moreau scored a Day 1 personal best of her own with 3,056 points as she ended the first day of competition at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium in ninth place overall.
Gochenour raced out to a fast start in her SEC Outdoor Championships debut as she clocked a career-best wind-aided time of 13.67 seconds in taking third place overall in the 100-meter hurdles. That run gave her 1,026 points to start the day in third place in the overall heptathlon standings.
Gochenour, who has run a seasonal-best time of 13.93 this spring, smashed her previous best effort for all conditions of 13.89 set at the 2010 USATF National Junior Olympics in Sacramento, Calif.
"That was a big boost," Gochenour said of her performance in the 100-meter hurdles to open up the event for the Lady Tigers. "Coach (Todd Lane) was trying to calm me down after that so I could get ready for the high jump. I was pretty jacked up after I saw my time pop up on the board."
She then added 712 points with a clearance of 5 feet, 2 ¼ inches in setting a new outdoor seasonal best for 2012 before shattering her lifetime personal record with a series-best throw of 39-3 ¾ on her third attempt in the shot put for 660 points. She raised her lifetime PR by more than one foot after setting her past mark of 37-11 ½ during the pentathlon competition at the SEC Indoor Championships earlier this season.
Gochenour wrapped up the day by running a wind-legal time of 25.36 to add 854 points to her Day 1 total and finish in fifth place overall as she will open Friday's action with 3,252 points.
She is already 103 points ahead of her pace through four events in her collegiate debut in the heptathlon at the Texas Relays earlier this season when she scored 3,149 points on the first day of action in Austin. Not only that, but Gochenour is also 24 points ahead of her pace when she set her previous personal records of 3,228 points on Day 1 and 5,300 points overall in winning the gold medal at the 2010 USA Track & Field Junior Outdoor Championships nearly two seasons ago as a high school junior.
A native of Missouri Valley, Iowa, and product of Logan Magnolia Senior High School, Gochenour looks to make a homecoming at the 2012 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships as the event will return to Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 6-9.
"I'm feeling pretty good," Gochenour said. "My score is a lot better right now than it was at Texas for this point. I'm looking to score some points for the team this weekend and get qualified for NCAAs."
While making her collegiate debut in the heptathlon at the SEC Championships, Moreau has given herself the opportunity to score points for the Lady Tigers after scoring 3,056 points for ninth place after Day 1.
Moreau opened the day by clocking 14.53 into a strong headwind of -1.1 meters per second for 905 points in the 100-meter hurdles. She then cleared a height of 4-11 ¾ for 644 points in her first high jump of the season, before setting an impressive lifetime PR of 39-0 ½ for 654 points in her first shot put event for her collegiate career. Moreau finished just .01 seconds behind Gochenour in the second heat of the 200-meter dash to add 853 points to her total with 3,056 points for ninth place overall.
Reigning SEC heptathlon champion Makeba Alcide of Arkansas is in a strong position to defend her SEC crown as she ended the day with 3.455 points to take a 38-point lead over Alabama's Kaylon Eppinger for the overall standings. Florida's Brittany Harrell follows in third place overall with 3,410 points.
Friday's action at the 2012 SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships kicks off at 11:30 a.m. CDT with the women's hammer throw for the first championship final of the weekend. The men's decathlon is set to start at 2 p.m., followed by the continuation of the women's heptathlon at 2:15 p.m.