Note: Times in the 60 meters, 60 hurdles, 200 meters, 800 meters and mile are adjusted for altitude in this press release.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M – LSU’s Jasmin Stowers continued a blistering run to the start of her senior season as she nearly set a school record and national-leading time in the women’s 60-meter hurdles in leading the Lady Tigers to the women’s team title the New Mexico Invitational held Saturday at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
Stowers has quickly emerged as a national championship contender as the NCAA’s No. 2-ranked performer in the event while taking home the hurdles title in each of her first three meets of the season.
After cruising to an easy victory in the first of two qualifying heats with an altitude-adjusted time of 8.15 seconds, Stowers powered past the rest of the field in the final and crossed the finish line with a personal record of 8.01 to rank among the nation’s elite in the event this season. Stowers’ official time of 7.99 was corrected by two one-hundredths of a second while running at altitude in Albuquerque.
She was one of the five Lady Tigers crowned event champions at this year’s New Mexico Team Invitational as freshmen Rushell Harvey and Jada Martin swept sprint titles in the 60 meters and 200 meters, respectively, senior Nikita Tracey raced to the top spot in the 600 meters and senior Lynnika Pitts soared to victory in the triple jump with a seasonal best.
The Lady Tigers totaled 151 points to win the women’s team title, followed by Nebraska (121) in second place, New Mexico (87.5) in third place, Notre Dame (75.5) in fourth place and Arizona State (66) in fifth place.
The Tigers were led to a second-place team finish with five event champions of their own as freshman Tremayne Acy won the 200 meters, freshman Blair Henderson claimed the 600 meters, junior Julian Parker scored the 800 meters with a lifetime personal best, sophomore Fitzroy Dunkley took the triple jump and the Tigers raced to victory in the 4x400-meter relay.
The Tigers racked up 103 points in 16 events scored during the competition to finish behind only the 138.5 points scored by Nebraska in the final men’s team standings. Notre Dame followed in third place with 69 points with TCU taking fourth place with 66 points and New Mexico rounding out the top five in fifth place overall with 61 points.
“I don’t think any of us really knew what to expect coming into the meet, considering were weren’t able to train more than a couple of days during the week,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “The weather we had back home really made it hard for our athletes to prepare the way we needed to for this meet. Knowing that, I’m very pleased with some of the things we were able to accomplish as a team today.
“We weren’t really focused so much on the performances we saw here today, but rather how well our athletes competed against some great teams and athletes. They did a phenomenal job of that today.”
Stowers certainly stole the show with her performance as she made it a perfect 3-for-3 on the season with her third victory in the 60-meter hurdles in as many meets in 2014.
After opening the season by running 8.16 at the Auburn Indoor Invitational and 8.18 at the Texas A&M Triangular, Stowers moved into the No. 2 spot in the NCAA rankings with a personal best of 8.01 as she earned the victory ahead of Notre Dame’s duo of Kaila Barber (8.33) and Jade Barber (8.46) in the most dominant performance of the afternoon.
Stowers trails only the national-leading time of 7.96 by Kentucky’s Kendra Harrison as she is certainly in for a fight to claim her fourth-straight SEC Indoor crown in the sprint hurdles. Stowers is the reigning NCAA Indoor bronze medalist and the three-time defending SEC Indoor champion in the women’s 60-meter hurdles as she is now in her final season as a Lady Tiger.
The Pendleton, S.C., native is also now tied for the No. 4 spot in school history as she is just off of LSU’s school record of 7.99 set by former NCAA champion hurdler Joyce Bates during the 2000 season.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers kicked off the festivities on the track by sweeping 600-meter titles as they immediately joined the race for the men’s and women’s team titles. Tracey proved to be the class of the field while cruising to a more than two-second victory with a winning time of 1 minute, 30.32 seconds. Henderson was the first Tiger to take home an event title during the meet as he crossed the finish line in 1:18.75 to finish only a half second ahead of junior teammate Vernon Norwood (1:19.24) for the men’s crown.
Norwood also anchored the Tigers to the victory in the men’s 4x400-meter relay in the final event of the meet as he teamed with sophomore Darrell Bush, junior Quincy Downing and sophomore Cyril Grayson in racing to a seasonal-best time of 3:08.29 to take the title ahead of Nebraska’s 3:08.41 in the runner-up position.
Henderson is just one of a host of talented freshmen already making their mark on the LSU Track & Field program early in the season as fellow rookies Acy, Harvey and Martin also won events during Saturday’s action.
Just one week after sprinting to an indoor personal record of 21.03 in his collegiate debut in the 200-meter dash at the Texas A&M Triangular, Acy raced to a winning altitude-adjusted effort of 21.08 to beat sophomore teammate Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (21.11) to the finish line as the Tigers took the top two spots in the final event standings.
Harvey clocked back-to-back seasonal bests of 7.49 in the preliminary round and 7.48 in the final to set a new personal best in taking the 60-meter dash, while Martin broke 24 seconds in the 200 meters for the second-straight meet after clocking a winning time of 23.97 to cement herself among the top freshman sprinters in the NCAA for the 2014 season.
Parker ran a lifetime PR in winning the men’s 800 meters during Saturday’s action as he broke the 1:50 barrier for the first time in his collegiate career. Parker’s winning run of 1:49.92 was exactly one second faster than Utah State’s Briton Page (1:50.92) in the first heat and nearly one second faster than Nebraska’s Jacob Holtmeier (1:50.77) from the third heat in winning the event.
Parker cracked the Top 25 of the NCAA rankings with his performance as he emerged as the No. 23-ranked middle distance runner during the 2014 indoor season.
Setting an indoor personal best of his own in winning the men’s triple jump title was Dunkley, who soared more than 50 feet from the board indoors for the first time in his collegiate career. Dunkley posted a top jump of 50 feet, 5 ½ inches on his very first jump of the competition to lock up the top spot in the final standings ahead of Nebraska’s Devandrew Johnson (50-0).
The Lady Tigers were also impressive with their performance in the triple jump as Pitts joined freshman Nataliyah Friar in locking up the women’s team title for the Lady Tigers with a 1-3 finish in the event.
Pitts, who earned All-America honors in the event with a seventh-place finish in the triple jump final at the NCAA Indoor Championships, followed fouls on each of her first two jumps by soaring to her seasonal best of 42-9 on her third attempt to crack the nation’s Top 10 in the No. 6 spot of the NCAA rankings this season. New Mexico’s Jannell Hadnot finished runner-up to Pitts with a top jump of 42-3 ½.
Friar continued the impressive start to her freshman season as she jumped a lifetime PR of 41-3 ¾ on her third attempt to claim third place in the event. Her seasonal-best jump of 41-3 ¾ eclipsed her previous personal best of 40-9 ¾ set during the 2012 outdoor season as a high school junior at Holt High School in Wentzville, Mo.
Friar already opened the season by posting lifetime bests in the long jump of 20-2 ¼ at the Auburn Indoor Invitational and 20-3 at the Texas A&M Triangular as one of the nation’s top dual jumpers this season.
“It’s been a challenging indoor season to this point, but both of our teams continue to make great strides each time out,” Shaver said. “Today was another big step in the right direction. We will need to continue that as we face even better competition in the coming weeks. We look forward to that as we go back to Texas A&M for another big meet next weekend.”
Three other Tigers set personal bests during Saturday’s competition as junior Jeremy Tuttle (60-8) and sophomore David Collins (58-1 ¼) uncorked personal bests for fourth place and seventh place, respectively, in the weight throw and freshman Cameron Robichaux cleared a lifetime best of 16-6 ¾ for ninth place in the pole vault.
Other Lady Tigers posting personal bests were sophomores Aliyah Davis in both the 60 meters (7.65) and 200 meters (24.70), Therese Jernbeck in both the 60 hurdles (9.17) and shot put (42-8), Kiersten Duncan (24.16) in the 200 meters and Chanice Chase (24.42) in the 200 meters; and freshmen Bryiana Richardson (8.58) in the 60 hurdles, Ka’Lynn Jupiter (8.59) in the 60 hurdles and Ashley Welborn (5:09.39) in the mile.
In all, LSU’s athletes came away from Saturday’s New Mexico Team Invitational with 10 event titles and 17 indoor personal bests at the site of this year’s NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers will return to the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium in College Station, Texas, for the second time in three weeks next weekend when they make the trip to Texas A&M University to compete with a strong field at the two-day Aggie Invitational running Feb. 7-8. They will make their return to College Station after already competing at the Texas A&M Triangular last weekend.