Forbes Wins First SEC Outdoor Title with NCAA Best
COLUMBIA, Mo. – After winning four SEC silver medals in the long jump during his collegiate career, senior Damar Forbes saved his best jump for last in his final appearance as a Tiger on Saturday at the SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships as he soared 27 feet, 4 ½ inches in the final round to strike gold as LSU’s first SEC event champion of the weekend.
Forbes opened the event by taking the lead with a wind-aided mark of 26-9 ¾ on his very first jump of the day and held a slight lead over the windy 26-3 by Florida’s Marquise Dendy heading into the finals.
Dendy, the two-time reigning SEC Indoor champion, then overtook Forbes for the lead in the fourth round with his best wind-aided mark of the day at 27-2 ½ to move into position for his first career SEC Outdoor win.
But Forbes turned the tables on his rival when he took to the runway for one last jump in his final attempt as an LSU Tiger at the SEC Championships. Forbes hit the board and soared a career-best distance of 27-4 ½ as he raced down the straightaway in celebration of his victory when the official mark was announced to the crowd watching at Missouri’s Audrey J. Walton Stadium.
With his windy 27-4 ½ (+2.3) on Saturday afternoon, Forbes eclipsed the 27-foot mark for the second time in his career after setting a wind-legal PR of 27-0 at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
He also got the better of his Gator rival as Forbes had finished runner-up to Dendy in the long jump at the SEC Indoor Championships in each of the last two seasons. Forbes won his first career gold medal in an SEC and NCAA final with a new NCAA-leading all conditions mark following eight previous silver medals in the championship meets.
Not only was Forbes the SEC Outdoor runner-up a year ago, but he also scored the silver medal in each of the last three SEC Indoor Championships in 2011, 2012 and 2013. He is also the two-time defending NCAA silver medalist for the outdoor season in 2011 and 2012 and indoor season in 2012 and 2013 as a four-time All-American in the event.
“It’s about time,” said a relieved Forbes following his first SEC victory on Saturday afternoon. “It felt really good. It’s crazy. I worked hard for this for a long time. I’m just happy it finally paid off. I felt good all week in my practices, and my series was good. Even the fouls I had today were over eight meters. I knew I had some pretty big jumps left in me today.”
Forbes admitted he had flashbacks of past SEC Championships when Dendy took the lead at 27-2 ½ in the fourth round of jumps in the final.
“I said, ‘Here we go again,’” Forbes said. “At that point, I knew I had to do something. So I went out and changed my mark a little big and got the board. I knew it was out there when I finally saw the white flag.”
With his victory, Forbes joins a proud lineage of LSU long jump champions at the SEC Outdoor Championships as the Tigers have now won 18 conference titles outdoors in the event. He ends a 10-year drought as LSU’s first SEC Outdoor champion in the long jump since former Olympic silver medalist John Moffitt in 2003.
Forbes helped spark the scoring for the Tigers during Saturday’s action at the University of Missouri as they finished the day with 15 points on the scoreboard. Sophomores Rodney Brown and Jeremy Tuttle each had a seventh-place finish in the throws as Brown threw 57-8 ½ in the shot put and Tuttle threw a seasonal best of 209-4 in the javelin. Tuttle scored the team’s first point of the meet on Thursday with his eighth-place effort in the men’s hammer throw final, marking the second-straight season in which he has scored in both the hammer and javelin at the SEC Championships.
Like Forbes, Emanuel wasted no time in taking an early lead in the long jump as she soared to a seasonal-best wind-aided mark of 20-7 (+2.6) on her very first jump of the day to win the first flight. She then dropped to third place heading into the women’s final as Texas A&M’s LaQue Moen-Davis (21-2 ¾) and Mississippi State’s Erica Bougard (20-11 ¾) took the top two spots in the second flight.
Porter found herself in 11th place overall with a best of 19-8 through two rounds in the second flight. But she earned her spot in the final when she jumped a wind-aided 20-3 ¾ (+4.7) to move into fifth place overall.
That’s where the Lady Tiger duo would finish as Emanuel earned the bronze medal with a third-place finish with her opening mark of 20-7w and Porter held firm in fifth place with her best of the day at 20-3 ¾w. Moen-Davis improved with a windy 21-6 in the sixth round to take the title, while Bougard held on for the silver medal with her personal best of 20-11 ¾ in the second round.
“What else can you say about what those girls did today,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver about their performance in the long jump. “When you’re jumping your seasonal bests at the SEC Championship like they’re doing today, good things are going to happen. They went out and earned those points for our team. That’s big for us.”
The Lady Tigers find themselves in third place overall with 31 points as eight of 21 events have been scored on the women’s side, trailing only Arkansas (50) and Georgia (49) in the team standings.
Sophomore Tori Bliss added four points to LSU’s team total with a personal-best performance in the women’s discus throw as she followed a throw of 159-11 in the first round with a PR of 162-10 in the second round in earning a fifth-place finish in the event. Bliss eclipsed her previous PR of 161-10 set in her last appearance at the Penn Relays on April 26 with the No. 7-ranked performance in school history.
Saturday proved to be another successful day of qualifying on the track for the Lady Tigers as they advanced two athletes into the finals in each of the 100-meter dash, 100-meter hurdles and 1,500-meter run.
After advancing to the women’s 200-meter final with the fastest time of the day at 22.88 (+0.9) on Friday night, senior Kimberlyn Duncan sprinted to the fastest qualifying time of the day in the 100 meters with a windy 11.28 (+2.2) as she is poised to defend her sprint double on Sunday afternoon. She will be joined in the 100-meter final by junior teammate Takeia Pinckney, who clocked the third-fastest time of the day at 11.41w.
Also earning their lanes in Sunday’s finals were two-time defending SEC Outdoor champion Jasmin Stowers (13.40w) and sophomore Chanice Chase (13.39w) in the 100-meter hurdles and junior Natoya Goule (4:22.22) and senior Charlene Lipsey (4:23.88) in the 1,500 meters. Goule’s qualifying time of 4:22.22 ranks No. 7 on LSU’s all-time performance list in the event.
Like Duncan, Tiger sophomore Aaron Ernest was the top qualifier of the day in the men’s 100-meter dash as he sprinted to a new NCAA all conditions leader of 10.04 (+3.6) to win the second heat. It marked the fastest wind-aided performance of Ernest’s career as he is looking to challenge for the SEC title after claiming All-SEC honors with the silver medal as a freshman in 2012.
Sophomore Quincy Downing also qualified for the final of the 400-meter dash with a time of 46.99 and sophomore Philip Primeaux earned a spot in the final of the 1,500 meters with a personal best of 3:52.87.
“Just based on what we were expecting coming into the meet, we’ve had some kids really step up for us here this weekend,” Shaver said. “We’ve even added a few in the finals that we really weren’t counting on. We have really given ourselves a chance to make a run at the title on the women’s side with the way we’ve performed to this point.
“We’re just plugging away on the men’s side. We’ve definitely picked up some points we weren’t expecting there. When you’re getting those seasonal bests and personal bests at the SEC Championships, good things are going to happen for your team. We’re getting them through and scoring some points.”
And the teams will add to their total in Sunday’s finale at the 2013 SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships as the Lady Tigers have 19 scoring chances and the Tigers have 18 scoring chances on the final day.
Sunday’s action gets underway with the field events at 1 p.m. CT followed by the first finals on the track at 3 p.m. at Missouri’s Audrey J. Walton Stadium. This year’s SEC Outdoor team champions will be presented the winning trophies in a special awards ceremony on the infield at approximately 6:45 p.m. after the running of the 4x400-meter relays.