BATON ROUGE – Members of the LSU Track & Field program were among those who electrified Kingston’s National Stadium at the 2013 Jamaican Senior Championships this weekend as 2013 NCAA champions Natoya Goule and Damar Forbes joined past greats Nickiesha Wilson and Isa Phillips in qualifying for the World Championships.
Goule became the first Lady Tiger in program history to break the two-minute barrier in the 800 meters and Forbes soared to a new lifetime personal record in the long jump as each was crowned Jamaican champion in their event after already winning SEC and NCAA titles with outstanding collegiate seasons in 2013.
Both Wilson and Phillips will return to the World Championships with Team Jamaica for the fourth time in their careers after sweeping bronze medals in the 400-meter hurdles on Friday night.
Moscow, Russia, will play host to the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Athletics from Aug. 10-18 as the world’s greatest athletes will be competing in the biennial event. This marks the second-straight time that LSU is set to feature four Jamaicans at the World Championships as the island nation sent a quartet of Tigers and Lady Tigers to Daegu, South Korea, in 2011.
LSU’s 2013 NCAA champions certainly led the way in Kingston this weekend as Goule ran 1 minute, 59.93 seconds to win the women’s 800 meters and Forbes jumped 27 feet, 0 ¾ inches to win the men’s long jump this past Saturday as each eclipsed the “A” qualifying standard for the World Championships with their historic victories.
As she has done for much of the 2013 season, Goule took the lead from the start of the race and never looked back as she smashed her own LSU school record with a winning run of 1:59.93 on the weekend.
Goule blistered the first lap in 58.11 seconds while holding her form on the backstretch and sprinting across the finish line in 1:59.93 to the cheers of the thousands packing the homestretch at the National Stadium. Her winning 1:59.93 was more than four second faster than runner-up Simoya Campbell (2:04.30), while Lorain McKenzie (2:07.15) trailed by more than eight seconds in third place.
Goule broke her own school record of 2:00.06 that she set in the 800-meter final at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., where she was crowned the NCAA Outdoor champion.
“This is a dream come true for me, and first I must thank God and the crowd inside the stadium who cheered for me throughout as this really motivated me. Without the support tonight, I couldn’t have done it,” Goule was quoted in The Jamaica Gleaner. She also credited LSU’s assistant head coach Mark Elliott for formulating a race strategy that proved crucial in her meeting the “A” qualifying standard.
Forbes was also impressive in winning the Jamaican long jump title for the second-straight season while earning his second career trip to the World Championships to compete for his native country.
And Forbes turned in an impressive series of jumps that featured three wind-legal marks of 26-9 in the first round, a new personal record of 27-0 ¾ in the fourth round and 26-11 ¼ in the sixth round as he defended his Jamaican title by more than 15 inches over silver medalist Nicholas Gordon at 25-9 ¼.
Forbes, who jumped a seasonal-best wind-aided mark of 27-4 ¾ to win the NCAA Outdoor championship in the long jump on June 6, eclipsed his 2-year-old personal best of 27-0 set in winning the NCAA Outdoor silver medal in 2011 en route to his first career appearance at the World Championships. His winning 27-0 ¾ on Saturday cracked the Top 10 of the world rankings as the No. 9-ranked performance for 2013.
Forbes is now the No. 2-ranked long jumper in LSU history as he overtakes Llewlellyn Starks (27-0 ½) and trails only former Olympic silver medalist John Moffitt (27-9 ½) in the school’s all-time rankings.
The SEC and NCAA long jump champion is certainly one of the top up-and-coming jumpers in worldwide athletics after debuting for Jamaica at the World Championships in 2011 and Olympic Games in 2012.
While Goule and Forbes are two of the younger members of Jamaica’s World Championships team heading to Moscow this summer, Wilson and Phillips are veterans on the squad as they each make their fourth career appearance after lining up in the 400-meter hurdles in Osaka, Japan, in 2007, Berlin, Germany, in 2009 and Daegu, South Korea, in 2011.
Wilson raced to a new seasonal best of 54.94 in Friday’s championship final of the women’s 400-meter hurdles as she eclipsed the “A” qualifying standard by nearly a half second in a third-place finish. Wilson trailed the likes of Ristananna Tracey (54.52) and Danielle Dowie (54.94) across the finish line as each qualify for the World Championships after running well below the 55.40 qualifying standard.
It marks the first time in three years that Wilson has broken the 55-second barrier in the 400 hurdles when she posted a seasonal best of 54.52 during the 2010 outdoor season.
LSU’s All-American junior Nikita Tracey, sister of Jamaican champion Ristananna Tracey, took seventh place in the race with her run of 57.24 in the final after racing to a new personal best of 56.08 for the second-fastest time of the qualifying round. Tracey’s eclipsed her previous PR of 56.51 set earlier this season and moved into the No.5 spot on LSU’s all-time performance list with her best of 56.08 this weekend.
Joining Goule, Forbes and Wilson on Jamaica’s World Championship team is Phillips, who qualified for the fourth time in his career with a third-place finish in the men’s 400-meter hurdles on Friday night.
After winning his semifinal heat with a time of 50.13 in Thursday’s opener, Phillips took third place by running 49.59 in the competitive final as he scored the bronze medal behind gold medalist Leford Green (49.20) and silver medalist Annsert Whyte (49.30). Phillips has already met the “A” qualifying standard with a seasonal-best time of 49.29 during the 2013 season.
Two other former Lady Tigers also competed at the Jamaican Senior Championships this weekend as Olympic silver medalist Samantha Henry-Robinson lined up in the finals for both the 100 meters and 200 meters and Jonique Day advanced to the semifinal round of the 400 meters. After running 11.21 (+0.9) for eighth place in the 100-meter final on Friday night, Henry-Robinson took fifth place in the 200-meter final on Sunday with a time of 23.29 (+1.0) in her final race of the meet. Day finished in 14th place overall in the women’s 400 meters with her run of 53.37 in the semifinal round.
Former Tiger All-American and World Championships bronze medalist Riker Hylton finished in 13th place overall in the men’s 400-meter semifinals after posting back-to-back runs of 46.27 in both the qualifying round on Thursday and semifinal round on Saturday. Hylton finished nearly three tenths of a second outside the qualifying position for the final.
Hylton, the 2011 Jamaican 400-meter champion, won a World Championships bronze medal as a member of Jamaica’s 4x400-meter relay team that took third place in the relay final in South Korea two years ago.