2013 Track & Field Season Preview: Jumps, Pole Vault
The Tigers featured a balanced attack while finishing just two points shy of a national championship at the 2012 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships as they scored 48 points for a runner-up finish in the team race in an exciting conclusion to the college season a year ago. Leading the way were 12 All-Americans scoring in events ranging from the sprints, hurdles and relays, to the jumps and throws as the Tigers again proved themselves among the best teams in all of collegiate track and field.
They will look to follow that formula for success in 2013 as they again feature one of the more balanced rosters in the country featuring All-America candidates across each of the event areas. With three-time NCAA long jump silver medalist Damar Forbes leading the way and emerging sprint star Aaron Ernest contending for NCAA titles on the track, the team boasts a host of returning firepower and an infusion of talent with one of the nation's top recruiting classes that is sure to lead LSU the pinnacle of collegiate track and field again this spring.
Fourth in a 10-part series previews a the men's jumpers and pole vaulters competing during the 2013 season.
Men's Jumps & Pole Vault
After qualifying for the national final in the long jump at the 2011 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Tiger standout Damar Forbes soared into the record book when he smashed his personal record and joined the 27-foot club by jumping 27 feet, 0 inches for his effort with one of the more impressive performances by an LSU Tiger in recent memory.
That performance earned Forbes his first career All-America accolade as the sophomore finished as the NCAA runner-up and within six inches of taking home his first career NCAA title. He became the first Tiger since John Moffitt in 2004 to eclipse the 27-foot mark in the long jump with the No. 3-ranked mark on LSU's all-time outdoor performance list in the event.
Forbes followed with a sensational junior season in 2012 during which he won two more NCAA silver medals as the national runner-up in the long jump during both the indoor and outdoor seasons.
Also a three-time All-SEC selection in the long jump during his collegiate career, Forbes is a national championship contender once again as he leads the way for the Tigers as a senior in 2013. He is the only Olympian returning to the LSU roster this year after making his Olympics debut for Jamaica last summer while earning an 18th-place finish in the London Games.
While Forbes returns for what is sure to be an exciting senior season this spring, the Tigers are without their top scorer from the NCAA Outdoor Championships a season ago with the departure of one of the nation's premier dual jumpers in Kyron Blaise.
The Trinidad & Tobago international earned three All-America honors in his final season with the Tigers in 2012. Blaise scored a team-leading nine points with his performance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships as he won the bronze medal with a third-place finish in the triple jump and added three points with a sixth-place finish in the long jump. In all, Blaise won a trio of All-America honors and a pair of All-SEC honors during his senior season.
The Tigers do return a deep and talented squad of pole vaulters this season, led by All-SEC selection Thomas Reinecke for his senior season and NCAA Championships qualifier Andreas Duplantis for his sophomore season as they also look to lead the group in 2013.
Duplantis is the team's top returning vaulter after clearing his personal record of 17-5 ½ at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds and advancing to the national semifinal as a freshman. He also cleared 17-4 ½ in his debut at the SEC Outdoor Championships while finishing the season as the No. 9-ranked performer in the event in the program's history.
A native of Lafayette and son of former Tiger All-American Greg Duplantis, the younger Duplantis even earned international experience following the collegiate season while competing for the Swedish National Team at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain. That's where he finished in 10th place worldwide in his final meet of the 2012 season.
Reinecke, a former All-SEC performer in the pole vault as the SEC Indoor silver medalist in 2010, cleared his personal record of 17-4 ½ as a junior a year ago. Senior Joseph Caraway is also a member of the 17-foot club with a best of 17-0 ¾ during his collegiate career.
Enrolling at LSU in January for the start of the 2013 spring semester is freshman triple jump prospect Fitzroy Dunkley. The Jamaican product is young in the sport after only competing in the triple jump during the 2012 season in his final campaign at Kingston's Jamaica College. That's where he set PRs of 6-8 in the high jump and 49-5 ½ in the triple jump at the 2012 Jamaican Boys & Girls Championships. Dunkley is a high school teammate of LSU's freshman sprinter Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake.
Check back Sunday as Part 5 of LSU Track & Field's 2013 season preview will feature the men's throwers.