BATON ROUGE – Freshman sprinter Jada Martin nearly clipped Lady Tiger great Kimberlyn Duncan at the tape as she crossed the finish line with a personal best of 7.36 seconds in the “A” section final of the women’s 60-meter dash to highlight LSU’s 15 personal-best performances at the LSU Twilight held at the Carl Maddox Field House.
Martin had already run a personal best of 7.43 to win her preliminary heat when she drew the lane to the inside of Duncan in the final of what proved to be one of the most exciting races of the night.
Martin fired out of the blocks and actually held the slight edge over Duncan through the first 50 meters of their race as they sprinted down the homestretch of the newly-installed Mondo track at the Carl Maddox Field House. But it was Duncan taking the tape as she surged ahead for a narrow victory over the Lady Tiger rookie in a time of 7.35 in her 2014 season debut.
Martin, who entered the meet with a previous PR of 7.46 set at the Tyson Invitational last weekend, now finds herself on the cusp of NCAA Championships qualification as her seasonal best and personal best of 7.36 is tied for the No. 22-ranked performance in the country this season and just two one-hundredths outside of a Top 16 ranking needed to earn a spot in the national meet.
The freshman from Lithonia, Ga., has quickly taken the baton left behind by Duncan as the team’s leading sprinter in 2014 while setting indoor personal bests of 7.36 in the 60 meters and 23.85 in the 200 meters.
“I was (nervous) before I got to the blocks, but once I got into the blocks it was just like she was another competitor,” Martin said of racing next to Duncan for the first time. “It was two PRs in one day. It just feels really good. I’ve been being patient. Coach (Dennis) Shaver keeps telling me to just be patient and the times will come when you put the races together. I’m just glad it’s coming now so I can work on getting a qualifying time for nationals. I’ve just got to trust the work I’ve put in and know that I’ll keep improving from here.”
Martin said she looks forward to learning from Duncan, who won a school-record seven NCAA event titles, 12 SEC event titles and 14 All-America honors during her four years as a Lady Tiger from 2010-13.
“I can take so much from her,” Martin said. “”Just seeing how she’s relaxed in her race and just watching her technically, I can take a lot from her seeing the way she competes. We have our little comments (after their race) and our little jokes. It was just a lot of fun.”
The Lady Tigers were also impressive in the 60-meter hurdles as junior Mariah Georgetown and sophomore Chanice Chase each set personal bests and cracked the NCAA’s Top 30 in their event on Friday night.
After first setting a personal best of 8.33 in the preliminary round, Georgetown dropped her PR for the second-straight race when she crossed the finish line in 8.31 to take third place in the championship final behind a winning 8.19 by former Lady Tiger national champion Nickiesha Wilson and matching 8.19 by unattached athlete Yvana Hepburn-Bailey. Chase followed in fourth place with a lifetime best of 8.33.
With their performance, Georgetown (8.31) moved into a tie for the No. 26 spot and Chase (8.33) cracked the Top 30 in a tie for No. 30 in the national rankings through Friday’s action.
Tuttle was the first to strike when he unleashed a lifetime best of 63 feet, 1 ½ inches in the second round to lock up a second-place finish, while Collins followed with a personal best of his own with a series-bet of 61-0 ¾ in the fourth round to finish the event in fifth place overall. Tuttle’s PR of 63-1 ½ moved him into the No. 8 spot on LSU’s all-time performance list in the men’s weight throw.
Collins has proven himself as one of the Tigers’ most consistent performers during the 2014 season as he has now set a personal best in the weight throw in five of his six appearances in the event as a sophomore.
Also cracking the Top 10 of LSU’s all-time indoor performance list of her event on Friday night was redshirt freshman Morgan Schuetz, who raced to a new personal best in a third-place finish in the women’s mile run. It was a race in which she finished in 4 minutes, 59.13 seconds, which converts to a time of 4:56.19 on a banked track to ranks her as the No. 10-ranked miler in the history of the Lady Tiger program.
Five other LSU distance runners also set personal bests after their times on the 200-meter flat track at the Carl Maddox Field House were converted to times run on a banked track. Junior William Wiesler led the way as he won the men’s mile with a converted time of 4:14.52, followed by sophomore Travis Pope in third place at 4:26.54. Junior Philip Primeaux clocked an indoor PR in the 800 meters with a converted time of 1:54.40 with his third-place finish, while freshmen Danielle Avery (2:16.23) and Chaiss Matthews (2:17.12) each ran 800-meter PRs in the women’s race.
Pope was also crowned the men’s 3,000-meter champion in the meet finale for the Tigers as he crossed the finish line with a converted time of 8:52.86 for his second-fastest time indoors in his collegiate career.
Other Tigers and Lady Tigers who set indoor PRs during Friday’s LSU Twilight meet were senior Shermund Allsop (6.78) in the 60 meters, freshman Bealoved Brown (7.52) in the 60 meters, freshman Mary Grace Gitz (5-6 ½) in the high jump and freshman Jonathan Pitt (49-11) in the triple jump.
Tiger junior Andreas Duplantis led a host of seven field-event champions during Friday’s action as he cleared a seasonal-best height of 17-1 ¾ to take the title over senior teammate Joseph Caraway with fewer misses.
LSU’s other field-event champions on Friday were senior Keri Emanuel (41-7) and sophomore Fitzroy Dunkley (49-11 ¼) in a sweep of the triple jump, senior Denise Hinton (64-6 ½) in the women’s weight throw, junior Tori Bliss (51-1) in the women’s shot put, sophomore Shanice Hall (5-8 ½) in the women’s high jump and freshman Nataliyah Friar (19-9 ¾) in the women’s long jump.
Also adding their name to LSU’s list of event champions at the LSU Twilight were junior Joshua Thompson with a run of 7.87 to take the tape ahead of sophomore teammate Joshua Lamers (7.94) in the men’s 60-meter hurdles and sophomore Kiersten Duncan with a winning time of 24.06 to finish nearly a half second ahead of sophomore teammate Aliyah Davis (24.53) in the women’s 200-meter dash.
With this year’s LSU Twilight now in the books, the Tigers and Lady Tigers will kick off the championship season next week with a return trip to College Station, Texas, for the third time this season as the 2014 SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships will run from Feb. 27-March 1 at Texas A&M’s Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium. The LSU Track & Field teams have already competed twice at Texas A&M’s facility during the 2014 season with appearances at the Texas A&M Triangular meet on Jan. 25 and Aggie Invitational on Feb. 8 in preparation for the SEC Indoor Championships.