Track & Field Adds World Qualifiers in Caribbean
BATON ROUGE – While five LSU athletes secured their spot on Team USA at the USA Track & Field Championships in Sacramento this weekend, three other program alums booked their tickets to London for the 2017 IAAF World Championships in Athletics with qualifying performances in Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago.
2013 NCAA Champions Natoya Goule and Damar Forbes qualified for Jamaica's World Championship team with medal-winning performances at the Jamaican National Senior Championships in Kingston, while Kelly-Ann Baptiste punched her ticket for Trinidad & Tobago at the Sagicor National Open Championships held in Port-of-Spain.
Goule, the NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor champion in the women's 800 meters as a junior at LSU in 2013, made her third-straight World Championship team while being crowned Jamaica's 800-meter champion with a winning time of 2 minutes, 0.90 seconds in Saturday's final at the National Stadium.
Goule won her fifth-straight Jamaican 800-meter title in the event ahead of Texas A&M sophomore Jazmine Fray, who finished more than one second off the pace in second place with a time of 2:02.28.
While her winning time of 2:00.90 at the Jamaican Championships bettered the qualifying standard of 2:01.00 for the World Championships, Goule had already achieved the time she needed to run in London with a top time of 2:00.56 this season run at the Music Distance Festival in Nashville, Tennessee, on June 10 and also a time of 2:00.75 from her season opener in Miami back in March.
Forbes will represent Jamaica at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics for the fourth-straight time after scoring the silver medal in the men's long jump final on Saturday at the Jamaican Championships.
Forbes' jump of 26 feet, 4 ¼ inches on his sixth attempt earned him a runner-up finish to Ramone Bailey who won the Jamaican title with a mark of 26-9 ¼ also in the final round of jumps. Forbes posted a personal best of 27-2 ½ at the IAAF World Challenge in Hengelo, The Netherlands, just two weeks ago to achieve the World Championship qualifying standard in the event.
Other LSU athletes lining up at the Jamaican Championships included Nikita Tracey earning fifth place in the women's 400-meter hurdles with a time of 55.70, Samantha Henry-Robinson taking sixth in the women's 200 meters with a time of 24.44 and 13th in the semifinals of the 100 meters with a time of 11.64, Nickiesha Wilson finishing seventh in the women's 100-meter hurdles with a time of 13.02, Fitzroy Dunkley clocking 46.52 for 15th place in the semifinals of the men's 400 meters and Renard Howell running 20.89 for 13th in the men's 200-meter semifinals.
In Trinidad & Tobago, Baptiste won her country's silver medal in the women's 100-meter dash Saturday at the Sagicor National Open Championships when she ran her seasonal-best time of 10.88 (+0.9) in the final. She climbed to the No. 6 spot in the World rankings for the 2017 season as Michelle-Lee Ahye's winning time of 10.82 set a new national record as the No. 2 time worldwide this year.
Baptiste's distinguished career as her country's greatest ever women's sprinter will add a fifth World Championships appearance this summer as she has also represented Trinidad & Tobago at four Olympic Games.
She will also run with her fellow countrywomen in the 4x100-meter relay in London as she led off a team also featuring Ahye, Reyare Thomas and Kamaria Durant to a World Championship qualifier of 42.94 in Sunday's finale in Port-of-Spain. Nigeria finished well off the pace in second place with a time of 42.94.
While coming up short of the qualifying standard in the men's 800 meters, former Tiger runner Jamaal James was crowned Trinidad & Tobago's national champion in the two-lap event for the third time in five seasons. He clocked 1:49.38 in the final this weekend to edge Nicholas Landeau's 1:49.56 in a two-man race for the title. James also won the event at the Sagicor National Open Championships in 2013 and 2015.