BATON ROUGE – Former Lady Tiger national champion hurdler Cassandra Tate will have the opportunity to wear the red, white and blue for the United States for the first time in her athletics career at the senior level after running her lifetime personal best in the 400-meter final on Sunday at the 2014 USA Indoor Track & Field Championships held in Albuquerque, N.M.
Tate captured a fourth-place finish in the national final of the women’s 400-meter dash after racing to a lifetime best of 52.40 seconds on the track at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
That performance earned her a spot in the relay pool that will run for Team USA at the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Athletics to be held March 7-9 in Sopot, Poland.
Tate, who has made her name as one of the top young 400-meter hurdlers in the United States with her performance outdoors in recent seasons, qualified for the final after running 53.71 in her qualifying heat as she then blasted a lifetime PR of 52.40 in the two-lap race to finish fourth behind reigning World Indoor bronze medalist Francena McCorory (50.85), Joanna Atkins (51.13) and Natasha Hastings (51.34).
Now two years into her professional career, Tate will compete for her first career international medal with Team USA as she joins a 4x400-meter relay pool that already boasts 13 international medals to its credit, which includes seven gold medals and six silver medals at the Olympic Games, IAAF World Indoor Championships and IAAF World Outdoor Championships.
McCorory and Hastings are sure to lead the squad into this year’s IAAF World Indoor Championships as each owns an Olympic gold medal in the women’s 4x400-meter relay. Hastings ran on the winning relay team with the United States in Beijing, China, in 2008, while McCorory featured on the winning foursome in London, England, in 2012.
Tate is no stranger to success after wrapping up a brilliant four-year collegiate career with the Lady Tigers in 2012 as the NCAA Outdoor champion in the 400-meter hurdles while setting her lifetime personal best with a PR of 55.22 in the NCAA final. She then just missed a spot in the 2012 Olympic Games when she finished in fifth place in the event in her first U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials held in Eugene, Ore., that summer.
A native of Hammond, La., Tate boasts one international medal on her resume as she was the gold medalist in the 400 hurdles at the 2012 North American, Central American & Caribbean Under-23 Championships.
One former Tiger relinquished his U.S. Indoor crown during Saturday’s opening day of competition at this year’s USA Indoor Championships as Jeremy Hicks took home the bronze medal in the men’s long jump final.
A three-time U.S. Indoor champion during his professional career, Hicks put himself in position to defend the crown he secured a year ago when he took the lead in the qualifying round with a jump of 26 feet, ¼ inches on his third attempt. He then extended his lead with an improved mark of 26-5 ½ in the fourth round that stood as his best jump of the competition.
But Hicks’ gold medal turned to bronze in the final round of jumps when Tyron Stewart jumped 26-11 ¾ and Chris Bernard soared 26-6 ¼ on their final attempts to displace the former Tiger All-American. Hicks captured the U.S. Indoor title in the long jump three times in a four-year span following his collegiate career with wins in 2010, 2011 and 2013 before surrendering his title on Saturday.
Three others LSU alums competed at this year’s USA Indoor Championships over the weekend with former Lady Tiger national champion and two-time U.S. Olympian Muna Lee taking seventh place in the women’s 60 meters with a time of 7.28 in the final and former Tigers Armanti Hayes earning 11th place in the men’s 400 meters with a time of 47.19 and Richard Jones finishing in 13th place in the men’s 800 meters at 1:50.06.