AUSTIN, Texas – After winning the women’s 4x800-meter relay on Thursday night, the Lady Tigers defended their sprint medley and distance medley relay championships on Friday night at Mike A. Myers Stadium to finish the third day of competition at the 86th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays a perfect 3-for-3 in relay finals on the weekend.
The Lady Tigers won their second-straight sprint medley relay crown and fourth in five seasons at the Texas Relays with the second-fastest time in school history at 3 minutes, 43.98 seconds.
They followed by capturing the distance medley relay title for the second-straight season with the fourth-fastest time in school history at 11:23.55 as they beat the Texas Longhorns to the finish line in both races.
Despite making a late lineup change, the team of senior Latoya McDermott (200 meters), senior Kimberlyn Duncan (200 meters), senior Siedda Herbert (400 meters) and junior Natoya Goule (800 meters) defended its sprint medley crown from a year ago with the team’s 13th win in the event all-time at the Texas Relays.
The Lady Tigers were running in second place to Texas at the second change between Duncan and Herbert and again at the third exchange between Herbert and Goule on the anchor leg.
Goule followed 10 meters behind Texas anchor Kendra Chambers for the first lap of the 800-meter leg before the NCAA Indoor Champion sped past the Longhorn senior on the backstretch and took control of the race with just 250 meters to go. Goule was the first to cross the finish line as the Lady Tigers took the title in 3:43.98. Arkansas followed as the runner-up with a time of 3:45.40 thanks to a strong anchor leg by NCAA Indoor 400-meter silver medalist Regina George, while Texas trailed in third place at 3:47.88.
By winning Friday’s sprint medley relay in 3:43.98, the Lady Tigers equaled the second-fastest time in school history as they finished just off the school record and meet record of 3:43.79 set last spring.
The LSU women have now won 13 sprint medley relay titles at the Texas Relays since their inaugural victory back in 1987, including four victories in the last five years with wins in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013.
The Tigers followed with an eighth-place finish in the men’s sprint medley relay event as their foursome of freshman Darrell Bush, senior Shermund Allsop, freshman Cyril Grayson and sophomore Quincy Downing had a time of 3:26.18 to follow Mississippi State (3:18.09), Texas A&M (3:18.85), Sam Houston State (3:22.34) and Pittsburgh (3:23.07) across the finish line in the second heat.
The Lady Tigers then capped the evening session with a dominating performance in defending their distance medley relay championship as senior Laura Carleton anchored the team to victory by seven seconds with an impressive 40-meter lead on the homestretch over freshman Connor Ward running the anchor leg for Texas.
Redshirt freshman Andria Aguilar ran the 1,200-meter leadoff leg before sophomore Montenae Roye-Speight gave the Lady Tigers a commanding lead with a strong 400-meter leg as she gave way to fellow sophomore and St. Louis native Samantha Levin at the second exchange. Levin held the advantage over 800 meters before Carleton took the baton with one mile separating LSU from the victory.
Carleton held a comfortable lead over Ward before stretching her advantage to 40 meters on the homestretch as she crossed the finish line in 11:23.55 for the fourth-fastest DMR in school history.
Ward followed more than seven seconds behind LSU’s SEC Indoor 5000-meter champion as Texas took second place in 11:30.78, followed by Texas A&M in third place overall with a time of 11:37.76 in the race.
The Lady Tigers had never won the distance medley relay at the Texas Relays before the 2012 season, but have now claimed each of the last two championships in Austin. With three relay wins this weekend, they now own 43 relay titles all-time at the Texas Relays and are just one victory shy of their single-season meet record of four relay wins from a season ago.
“What a great performance by our women in defending the relays they won here a year ago. They showed a lot of pride tonight in two very competitive races,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “That’s exactly what kind of effort we expect from our teams when we come to a meet like the Texas Relays. I’m so proud of what they were able to accomplish here tonight.
“We like to see our athletes improve each time they are given an opportunity, and I think we saw some of that today from both of our teams.”
One Lady Tiger who took advantage of her opportunity on Friday was junior Nikita Tracey, who slashed nearly one full second off her seasonal best in a third-place finish in the final of the 400-meter hurdles.
Tracey, who earned a place in the final with the sixth-fastest time of Thursday’s qualifying round at 58.76 seconds, set a seasonal best for the second-straight day as she ran 57.83 for third place behind Texas’ champion Danielle Dowie (56.58) and Iowa State’s Eseroghene Okoro (57.82). Tracey became the No. 7-ranked performer in school history with her performance in Friday’s final.
A two-time NAIA Champion while competing for Oklahoma Baptist University, Tracey is also the NCAA’s No. 5-ranked 400-meter hurdler this spring with her seasonal best of 57.83.
Senior Damar Forbes also enjoyed a strong performance during Friday’s evening session as he matched Tracey’s third-place finish with a third-place finish of his own in his first long jump outdoors this spring. He ended the competition with a series-best wind-aided mark of 25 feet, 10 ¾ inches (+2.1) in the sixth round to win the bronze medal in the event.
Forbes trailed Florida’s Marquis Dendy (26-9 ¾w) and Ohio State’s Mike Hartfield (26-9) in the final long jump standings while emerging as the NCAA’s No. 3-ranked performer in the event for 2013.
Like Tracey, Tiger sophomore Andreas Duplantis cracked LSU’s all-time Top 10 list with his performance in the men’s university pole vault as he cleared an outdoor personal best of 17-7 on his first attempt en route to a 10th-place finish overall. Duplantis had first-attempt clearances at 16-7 ¼, 17-1 and 17-7 before fouling out of the pole vault after the bar was raised to 18-1. The event featured an NCAA-leading performance by Ole Miss’ Sam Kendricks as he cleared a stadium record of 19-0 ¾ for the victory.
Duplantis strengthened his hold on the No. 10 spot on LSU’s all-time outdoor performance list in the pole vault while eclipsing his previous outdoor PR of 17-5 ½ set at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds a year ago.
Junior Keri Emanuel highlighted LSU’s strong field-event performance in Friday’s afternoon session as she opened her outdoor season with a seventh-place finish in the women’s triple jump.
Emanuel, the sixth-place finisher in the triple jump at this year’s NCAA Indoor Championships, jumped a series-best wind-aided mark of 42-8 ¾ on her sixth and final attempt to claim seventh place in the final standing. But with Emanuel’s final jump of 42-8 ¾ (+4.3) being over the allowable wind reading for NCAA qualification, her jump of 41-7 ¾ (+2.5) in the third round will be her top mark on the NCAA list.
Fellow junior and NCAA Indoor All-American Lynnika Pitts also competed in her first triple jump outdoors as she followed in 11th place with a series-best jump of 41-1 ½ (+1.6) in the first round. Pitts began the day with a third-place finish in the B section of the women’s high jump as she matched her outdoor PR with a clearance of 5-8 ¾ on her third attempt.
Two Tigers also set outdoor PRs in their B section field events as sophomore Rodney Brown threw 55-1 ½ for fifth place in the shot put and freshman Fitzroy Dunkley cleared 6-8 ¾ for 13th place in the high jump.
Friday’s morning session featured five LSU qualifiers into Saturday’s finals at the 86th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays as Duncan and sophomore Aaron Ernest each earned a spot in the final of the 100-meter dash, junior Jasmin Stowers secured a lane in the final of the 100-meter hurdles and both the men’s 4x100-meter relay and women’s 4x400-meter relay advanced to their respective finals.
Duncan is poised to become the third Lady Tiger in program history to repeat as the women’s university 100-meter champion after claiming her first career Texas Relays title a year ago.
While running her first 100-meter race of the 2013 season, Duncan sprinted to a wind-aided time of 11.15 (+2.3) to win the 12th qualifying heat with the fastest time of the preliminary round and the second-fastest run under all conditions in the NCAA ranks this spring. Duncan ran a career-best wind-aided time of 10.94 in the finals to take the Texas Relays title last season.
Lady Tiger greats Cheryl Taplin (1993-94) and Muna Lee (2003-04) also won back-to-back Texas Relays gold medals in the 100 meters during their collegiate careers.
Ernest and Stowers were each the fourth-fastest qualifiers in their respective events on Friday morning as Ernest ran a wind-aided 10.29 (+2.9) in his season-opening race in the 100-meter dash and Stowers sprinted to a seasonal-best wind-aided time of 13.18 (+3.9) in just her second race of the season in the 100-meter hurdles.
Ernest also ran the second leg for the Tigers in the qualifying round of the 4x100 relay as he teamed with Forbes, freshman Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and Allsop for the sixth-fastest relay time of the day at 40.32. Other entries into the men’s 4x100 relay final include Texas A&M (39.73), Florida (39.76), Baylor (40.00) TCU (40.02), Jackson State (40.20), Houston (40.59), Louisiana Tech (40.74) and Tennessee (40.75).
Herbert, Tracey and Goule also helped the Lady Tigers claim the ninth and final qualifying spot in the final of the women’s 4x400 relay as they teamed with sophomore Montenae Roye-Speight on the third leg to run an early-season 3:38.50 to win the last of seven preliminary heats in the final event of the morning session.
The Lady Tigers will also run as part of a world-class field in the women’s invitational 4x100-meter relay championship during Saturday’s finale at the 86th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays.
“Both of our teams really had a great day today. We’re looking forward to an exciting finish tomorrow on what has been a tremendous weekend for us,” Shaver said. “We need to take advantage of another chance for both of our teams to get just a little bit better tomorrow. Saturday at the Texas Relays always brings out the best in the teams that are here.”
Saturday’s championship finals at Mike A. Myers Stadium are slated to start for the Tigers and Lady Tigers at 10 a.m. CT in the field events followed by the first relay finals on the track at 1:30 p.m. Live results are posted on the official athletics website for the University of Texas at www.texassports.com. Fans can also receive live updates of the Tigers and Lady Tigers competing in Saturday’s finale at the Texas Relays by liking LSU Track & Field on Facebook and following @LSUTrackField on Twitter.