GREENSBORO, N.C. – LSU’s growing roster of NCAA semifinalists has soared to 14 through two days of competition at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds as three Tigers and six Lady Tigers added their names to the team’s championship roster during Friday’s action at Irwin Belk Track on the campus of North Carolina A&T University.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers have matched one another with seven qualifiers apiece into the semifinals of the 2013 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships through two days in Greensboro.
The semifinal and final rounds of the NCAA Outdoor Championships will run June 5-8 at Oregon’s Hayward Field in just two weeks. The Top 12 finishers for each open and relay event here at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds will earn the right to compete for a national championship in Eugene.
“I’m very pleased with the way our athletes approached the competition today. They showed a great competitive spirit, for the most part, to do exactly what they needed to do to advance to the next round,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “We need that same kind of focus and competitive intensity again tomorrow to finish off a great weekend for both our teams here in Greensboro.”
Tiger sophomore Quincy Downing led the charge on the track by smashing his lifetime personal best in the 400-meter dash to earn a berth in the national semifinals for the second-straight season.
While running in lane No. 3 in the third of three quarterfinal heats, Downing held a slight lead coming off the final turn and powered through the finish line with the fastest time of the day at 46.08 seconds, breaking his previous best of 46.18 set as a freshman in the national quarterfinals a year ago at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds held in Jacksonville, Fla.
Joining Downing in the event is freshman Darrell Bush, who claimed an automatic qualifying spot with a third-place finish in the second quarterfinal heat with his time of 46.62 on the day.
Fellow sophomore Aaron Ernest pulled double duty on Friday evening while running in the quarterfinals of the 100-meter dash before lining up for the first round of the 200-meter dash in the final event of the day. He earned his trip to Eugene with a run of 10.20 (+1.6) for third place in the third heat of the 100 meters, then took the tape in the fourth heat of the 200 meters in 20.76 (+1.4) for a spot in Saturday’s quarterfinal.
Freshman Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake ran a personal best for the second-straight day with a wind-legal sprint of 20.92 (+0.7) for third place in the fifth qualifying heat of the men’s 200 meters. Mitchell-Blake is now ready to join Ernest in the quarterfinal round after he also raced to a PR of 10.43 in the quarterfinals of the 100 meters on Thursday night.
Senior Kimberlyn Duncan matched Ernest’s effort by advancing to the national semifinals in the 100-meter dash and cruising into Saturday’s quarterfinals in the 200-meter dash on the women’s side.
Duncan sprinted to a seasonal-best wind-aided time of 11.05 (+3.9) to advance to the 100-meter semifinals with the second-fastest time of the round as she was edged by the 11.05w by Central Florida’s Aurieyall Scott by just five one-thousandths of a second. Duncan returned to the track for the sixth qualifying heat of the 200 meters and jogged to an easy victory in 22.94 (+1.0) for the second-fastest time of the day.
Two Lady Tigers will line up in the semifinal round of the 100-meter dash in Eugene as redshirt junior Takeia Pinckney also advanced with a third-place finish in the first quarterfinal heat with a seasonal-best wind-aided time of 11.30 (+3.8). It was her quickest performance under all conditions since her true freshman season in 2010 when she ran a wind-legal 11.30 to win the 100-meter title at the USA Junior Championships.
Also racing to an all conditions seasonal best was Lady Tiger junior Toshika Sylvester, who placed 14th overall and just two spots out of qualifying position for the semifinals with her windy 11.41 (+3.8) in the 100 meters.
Senior Charlene Lipsey and junior Natoya Goule followed by racing to the two fastest times of the day in the women’s 800-meter quarterfinal as Goule won the third heat in 2 minutes, 1.04 seconds and Lipsey took the second heat in 2:05.63. Junior Nikita Tracey also won her quarterfinal race in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 58.10 as she will join her teammates in Eugene.
Two other Lady Tigers will have an opportunity to earn their spot in the national semifinals in the 100-meter hurdles during Saturday’s finale after junior Jasmin Stowers won her heat in 13.24 (+0.8) and senior Shanekia Hall took third in her heat in 13.22w (+3.3).
Junior Denise Hinton was the first to add her name to LSU’s growing list of NCAA semifinalists during Friday’s events at Irwin Belk Track as she let loose a throw of 197 feet, 11 inches in the second round for her only fair throw of the day to lock up a top-12 finish in the women’s hammer as the ninth-place finisher. She is set to make her first career appearance in the national semifinals of the hammer throw outdoors after earning back-to-back trips to the NCAA Indoor Championships in the 20-pound weight throw in 2012 and 2013.
Fellow junior Karen Henning fell one spot short of advancing to Eugene as she posted a series-best mark of 188-9 in the second round en route to a 13th-place finish in the women’s hammer final.
In other field-event action on Friday afternoon, Tiger sophomore Jeremy Tuttle matched his seasonal best of 209-4 on his third throw to take second in the first flight and 24th place overall in the men’s javelin qualifying round. Junior Lynnika Pitts helped lead the Lady Tigers in Friday’s field events by clearing 5-9 ¾ to tie for 24th place in the women’s high jump.
“We’re excited with the progress we’ve made through two days,” Shaver said about his team’s performance in Greensboro. “It’s important that we come back and finish strong with the same effort tomorrow.”
Saturday’s finale at the 2013 NCAA East Preliminary Rounds will get underway at 9 a.m. CT in the field events and 5 p.m. with the first quarterfinals on the track as the Tigers and Lady Tigers wrap up their events at Irwin Belk Track at North Carolina A&T University. Flash Results will provide the live results of Saturday’s finish at www.flashresults.com.
LSU’s Qualifiers for the NCAA Championships Semifinals in Eugene, Ore.
Note: All marks and places were achieved this weekend at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds
Name, Event, Time/Mark (Place)
Rodney Brown, Discus, 192-5 (2)
Darrell Bush, 400 Meters, 46.62 (8)
Joseph Caraway, Pole Vault, 17-2 ½ (12)
Quincy Downing, 400 Meters, 46.08 (1)
Aaron Ernest, 100 Meters, 10.20 (7)
Damar Forbes, Long Jump, 25-0 ½w (4)
Thomas Reinecke, Pole Vault, 17-2 ½ (T5)
Name, Event, Time/Mark (Place)
Kimberlyn Duncan, 100 Meters, 11.05w (2)
Natoya Goule, 800 Meters, 2:01.04 (1)
Denise Hinton, Hammer Throw, 197-11 (9)
Charlene Lipsey, 800 Meters, 2:05.63 (2)
Takeia Pinckney, 100 Meters, 11.30w (7)
Brittany Porter, Long Jump, 20-1w (8)
Nikita Tracey, 800 Meters, 58.10 (3)