Duncan Makes History with NCAA Title Defense
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - As she has done throughout a storied collegiate career as a Lady Tiger, senior Kimberlyn Duncan electrified a capacity crowd at the Randal Tyson Track Center on Friday night as she made history in defending her national crown in the 200-meter dash at the 2013 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships.
Duncan, who entered the meet as the two-time defending NCAA Indoor champion in the event, followed a qualifying run of 22.59 seconds with a title-clinching run of 22.58 in the final to capture her fifth career national title in the 200-meter dash between the indoor and outdoor seasons.
Duncan's 200-meter victory secured the first 10 points of the meet for the Lady Tigers as they will make a run for the team title with seven scoring opportunities in Saturday's finale.
The senior from Katy, Texas, has dominated the 200-meter dash like no other in collegiate history during her career with the Lady Tigers. She earned the distinction with Friday's win as the first sprinter in NCAA history to win three-straight NCAA Indoor gold medals at either the men's or women's championship.
She surpasses the two women's NCAA Indoor 200-meter titles won by LSU's Muna Lee (2002-03), Indiana State's Holli Hyche (1993-94) and Texas' Carlette Guidry (1990-91).
"To make history, I'm just so blessed to be able to do that," Duncan said following the award's ceremony. "I'm excited to be here as a senior and go out with a bang. I feel like I had some of my best races here today. I'm happy with my performance. It was also big for us to get those first 10 points on the board for our team."
Duncan was also able to avenge her only defeat in her last 21 collegiate finals in the 200 meters as Central Florida's Aurieyall Scott finished runner-up in 22.71.
Scott got the better of Duncan when the two squared off at the Tyson Invitational on Feb. 9 as Scott took the 200-meter title in 22.68 to Duncan's time of 22.72 for second place. Duncan saw her streak of 18-straight collegiate victories come to an end on the same 200-meter track at the Randal Tyson Track Center at the University of Arkansas.
Duncan rebounded with a world-leading indoor personal record of 22.54 to win her third-straight SEC Indoor crown before taking home her third-straight NCAA Indoor title in 22.58 on Friday night.
Duncan lined up in lane No. 5 with Scott to her outside in lane No. 6 in the second of two finals heats. Scott held the stagger down the backstretch, but Duncan made her move around the curve with only 100 meters to go as she pulled even before sprinting by Scott while racing down the final turn. Duncan held her advantage through the finish line to take the tape in 22.58. Scott's Central Florida teammate Octavious Freeman scored the bronze medal with her winning time of 22.87 in the first heat.
"I knew she (Aurieyall Scott) was going to push me. I knew I had to get out and go." Duncan said. "She's a great athlete. It was important for me to execute my race and sprint all the way through."
Duncan has an opportunity to add to her point total on Saturday after qualifying for the 60-meter final for the second-straight season.
She took second place in the first of two semifinal heats with a run of 7.25 to finish runner-up to the 7.15 in the race by Oregon defending champion English Gardner. Duncan is poised to improve upon an eighth-place finish in her first 60-meter final at the NCAA Indoor Championships as season ago.
While Duncan added the first 10 points for the No. 1-ranked Lady Tigers in this year's championship, senior Damar Forbes and sophomore Aaron Ernest combined to score 11 points for the No. 15-ranked Tigers as Forbes scored the silver medal with a runner-up finish in the long jump and Ernest finished in sixth place in his first NCAA Indoor final in the 200-meter dash.
Forbes saved his best indoor meet with the Tigers for his last appearance in the purple and gold at the NCAA Indoor Championships as he jumped an indoor PR to win the silver medal.
Forbes won the second flight with a top jump of 26 feet, 0 inches in the qualifying round to take third place into the final behind Florida's Marquis Dendy (26-7) and Arkansas' Raymond Higgs (26-0 ¼). The Tiger senior then leaped past Higgs and into second place with his indoor personal record of 26-11 ¼ in the fifth round.
That jump locked up second place for Forbes as Higgs was unable to improve upon his opening jump of 26-0 ¼ in the finals. Dendy extended his lead with jumps of 27-0 in the fourth round and 27-2 in the fifth round to claim this year's NCAA Indoor crown while scoring 10 points for the Gators.
It marks the fourth time in his collegiate career that Forbes has taken home the silver medal in the long jump while earning All-America honors at the NCAA Championships, winning a pair of silver medals at the NCAA Indoor meet in 2012 and 2013 and a pair of silver medals at the NCAA Outdoor meet in 2011 and 2012. Forbes is also a four-time SEC Championships runner-up in the event as he will finish his career as one of the premier long jumpers to ever compete in the Southeastern Conference.
Forbes' 26-11 ¼ also soared past the career-best of 26-9 by Tiger great Walter Davis in 2002 for the No. 2-ranked indoor performance in school history.
"I came off the board right. I just didn't have as good a landing as I should have," Forbes said of his top jump. "I jumped the best I ever have indoors, so I'm happy with that. Of course I wanted to win the event, but it took a great jump to beat me today. I'm not upset at all because of that. I'm excited to get outdoors and really show what I'm capable of this year."
Ernest, who entered the meet as the NCAA and World leader in the men's 200-meter dash at 20.53, added three points with a sixth-place finish in his first NCAA Indoor final in the event.
The Tiger sophomore sprinted to the fifth-fastest time of the qualifying round at 20.84 before improving to 20.72 in the final for a sixth-place finish overall. Texas A&M senior Ameer Webb kept the crown he won a year ago with a winning run of 20.42 after taking the World lead from Ernest with a qualifying run of 20.37 in the preliminary round.
Ernest also trailed Jackson State's Anaso Jobodwana (20.47), Louisiana Tech's Trey Hadnot (20.48), Arkansas' Akheem Gauntlett (20.67) and Florida's Dedric Dukes (20.70) in the final standings.
"Damar has been so consistent during his career here. He's a tremendous competitor and always has been since he's been with us," said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver of his star long jumper. "Those are eight big points for our men's team. Aaron did a good job in his first final here at this meet, but just couldn't hang on in the end for a better place. He's had a tremendous indoor season for us. I know that he's going to carry this momentum with him outdoors. Aaron has come so far in just one season with us."
The Lady Tigers have certainly positioned themselves to compete for the team title with four qualifiers from Friday's prelims and a total of seven scoring chances during Saturday's finale.
Lipsey and Goule entered the meet as the NCAA's two fastest 800-meter runners and certainly cemented their reputation as national championship contenders with a pair of heat wins Friday. Lipsey had the fastest qualifying time of the day at 2 minutes, 5.02 seconds to cruise to the win in the second heat after Goule won the first qualifying heat with the third-fastest time of the day at 2:05.68. Lipsey has run an indoor PR of 2:02.48 and Goule has run an indoor PR of 2:03.08 already this year at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
Stowers is also poised to score big points after qualifying for her third-straight NCAA Indoor final in the 60-meter hurdles with a qualifying run of 8.11 for the third-fastest time of the preliminary round.
Junior Denise Hinton opened the championship for the Lady Tigers with her second career NCAA Championships appearance in the 20-pound weight throw, taking 14th place in the event with her best of the day at 64-5 ¾. Indiana State's Felisha Johnson took the weight throw title with her top mark of 77-2.
Senior Takeia Pinckney joined Duncan in the 60-meter field as she finished in 12th place overall after running 7.36 for sixth place in the first of two qualifying races.
"We've positioned ourselves to make a run at the team championship tomorrow. That's all you can ask for on the first day," Shaver said of his team's performance on Friday. "We're battling. We qualified well today. I've got a feeling that nobody had a perfect day today. We've done just about all we can do to make a run at the team title tomorrow.
"There's probably about three or four teams in the mix. We're excited to be in the hunt and have the opportunity to finish off this indoor season with a national championship."
The 2013 indoor season will come to an end Saturday at the Randal Tyson Track Center as it plays host to the final day of this year's NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships. The evening will be underway for the Tigers and Lady Tigers at 6 p.m. CT as juniors Keri Emanuel and Lynnika Pitts compete in the women's triple jump. This year's NCAA Indoor team champions will be presented the awards during a special ceremony at approximately 8:30 p.m. after the running of the 4x400-meter relays.
ESPN3.com will provide live streaming video of Saturday's finale beginning at 6 p.m. CT at http://es.pn/NCAA-ITF-0309. Flash Results will also provide the live results on Saturday at www.flashresults.com. Fans can also receive live updates by liking LSU Track & Field on Facebook and following @LSUTrackField on Twitter.