Track & Field Sends 24 to NCAA Semifinalists

The Tigers set the Hodges Stadium record in the 4x4 at 3:02.26!
The Tigers set the Hodges Stadium record in the 4x4 at 3:02.26!
Bryan Wayne
Will Stafford (@WillStaffordLSU)
Will Stafford (@WillStaffordLSU)
Associate SID

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – LSU’s roster of semifinalists heading to the 2015 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships is now set as the Tigers and Lady Tigers added 11 more qualifiers to their squads making the trip to Eugene, Oregon, during Saturday’s finale at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds at North Florida’s Hodges Stadium.

LSU Track & Field emerged from the preliminary rounds with 24 NCAA semifinalists over three days of competition in Jacksonville, including 10 qualifiers for the Tigers and 14 qualifiers for the Lady Tigers.

They have now earned the right to represent the program in the semifinal and final rounds of the 2016 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships that will be held June 8-11 at Oregon’s Hayward Field.

The Tigers adding their names to LSU’s list of semifinalists on Saturday evening were juniors Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and Renard Howell in the 200-meter dash, junior Jordan Moore in the 110-meter hurdles and both of their NCAA-title-contending 4x100-meter and 4x400-meter relays.

The Lady Tigers also bolstered their squad heading to Eugene for the NCAA semifinals in just under two weeks with junior Chanice Chase and sophomore Mikiah Brisco in the 100-meter hurdles, junior Jada Martin and freshman Kortnei Johnson in the 200 meters and also both of their 4x100-meter and 4x400-meter relay teams.

“Our athletes really did their job and gave a great effort this weekend to put themselves in a great position to compete when we go to Eugene in a couple of weeks,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “We have two very strong teams heading to Eugene, so the next couple of weeks will be important for us in our preparation for what’s to come. We’re looking forward to

The Lady Tigers were the first to step onto the track in Thursday’s quarterfinals as Brisco, Johnson, Martin and Harvey teamed to run 43.43 in lane two and win the first of three quarterfinal heats of the women’s 4x100 relay. They earned a return trip to the national semifinals in Eugene this year with the second-fastest time of the day after Kentucky won the third heat in 43.08.

The Tigers followed as the top qualifiers from the men’s 4x100-meter relay quarterfinals as they beat Western Kentucky (39.27) to the line in the third heat with a winning 39.04. Running with their NCAA-leading lineup of freshman Jaron Flournoy, Howell, Acy and Mitchell-Blake, the Tigers edged Tennessee’s 39.07 from the second heat to emerge as the No. 1 seed from the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds.

Brisco is set to line up in three events at Hayward Field in two weeks as she later qualified in the quarterfinals of the 100-meter hurdles after leading off the Lady Tigers’ 4x100-meter relay team earlier in the day.

After sprinting to the NCAA semifinals in the 100-meter dash on Friday night, Brisco ran the fastest hurdle race of her collegiate career when she crossed the finish line in third place in the first quarterfinal heat with her wind-aided time of 13.02 (+2.6). It proved to be the sixth-fastest time of Saturday’s quarterfinal and the fastest under all conditions of her career.

Like Brisco, Chase is also set to run for the Lady Tigers in three events at the NCAA Championships in two weeks after qualifying ahead of her teammate in the 100-meter hurdles just one day after earning her ticket on the plane to Eugene in the 400 hurdles on Friday. Chase beat Brisco to the finish line in the first heat with a career-best wind-aided time of 12.92, trailing only Kentucky’s Jasmine Camacho-Quinn (12.77w).

Chase has enjoyed the best three days of competition for her collegiate career as she also ran a wind-legal PR of 12.94 in Friday’s first round of the 100 hurdles along with back-to-back personal bests of 55.47 in the first round and 55.35 in the quarterfinal round of the 400 hurdles en route to the national semifinals in both hurdle events.

She even wrapped up the meet by anchoring the Lady Tigers to a seasonal-best time of 3 minutes, 29.91 seconds in a qualifying performance in the women’s 4x400-meter relay as she split 51.36 on the last leg. Running the fourth-fastest time of relay quarterfinals for the Lady Tigers were also junior Travia Jones (52.98), Martin (52.65) and freshman Rachel Misher (52.92) as they followed Florida’s 3:28.73 in the third heat.

“I was ready, I just came here with the mindset that I had to do better than what I did at SEC’s,” Chase said. “I didn’t make the 100 hurdle final there, I did pretty good in the 400 hurdles. It was just all about making it to nationals, so I was happy to turn it on when it really mattered. I think we all did a great job of qualifying here this weekend.”

“I’m also happy for the relay team,” Chase continued. “We work hard. We’ve switched the order up a few times. We switched it back to our old order tonight and it worked great, so that’s what we’ll stick with.”

Moore continued LSU’s momentum in the men’s sprint hurdles when he opened the quarterfinal round with a narrow victory over Florida’s Yanick Hart (13.58) with a wind-legal 13.54 (+1.9) in the first heat. Moore was the fifth-fastest qualifier overall as he finished just shy of his seasonal best of 13.53 set in winning the SEC title in the 110-meter hurdles two weeks ago.

Both teams added two semifinalists each in the 200-meter dash as Martin and Johnson qualified in the women’s quarterfinals and Mitchell-Blake and Howell qualified from the same heat in the men’s quarterfinals.

Just two weeks after running a wind-legal PR of 19.95 (+1.0) in the SEC final of the event, Mitchell-Blake was the top qualifier in the men’s 200 meters with a wind-aided 19.96 (+3.6) to beat Howell (20.25w) to the finish line in the second heat. Howell’s 20.25w was the fourth-fastest time of the men’s quarterfinal as the two Tigers easily advanced with a 1-2 finish in their quarterfinal race.

Both Lady Tigers ran the fastest 200-meter races of their collegiate careers with a pair of runner-up finishes in their heats as Martin was second in the third heat with the third-fastest time for the day at 22.41 (+3.4) and Johnson finished runner-up in the first heat with the fifth-fastest time in women’s qualifying. Johnson also qualified for the 100-meter semifinals on Friday night while running a wind-legal PR of 11.27.

Also lining up the 200 meters on Saturday were Flournoy (20.71w) in 17th place in the men’s quarterfinals and Misher (22.94w) in 13th place, Harvey (23.12w) in 17th place and senior Kiersten Duncan (23.54w) in 24th place in the women’s quarterfinals.

The Tigers then wrapped up the NCAA East Prelims in record-setting fashion as they broke their own Hodges Stadium record of 3:02.48 in the men’s 4x400 relay from a year ago with the top qualifying time of the day.

With fresh legs in their only race of the night after qualifying in the open 400 meters the first two days, junior LaMar Bruton (46.52), junior Michael Cherry (44.60), senior Cyril Grayson (45.91) and senior Fitzroy Dunkley (45.25) were nearly three seconds faster than Ohio State (3:05.11) in the second heat and edged Florida’s heat-winning 3:02.44 in the third section for the fastest time of the round.

“We got through it, and that’s the most important thing coming to this meet,” Shaver said of his team’s coming out of this year’s NCAA East Preliminary Rounds with 24 total semifinalists. “We look forward to preparing for what’s to come in Eugene. We know what we’ve got, so now it’s time to do everything we can as coaches and athletes to give ourselves the best opportunity to compete at the NCAA Championships.”

Competing in Saturday’s triple jump quarterfinals were junior Nataliyah Friar and redshirt freshman Da’Quan Bellard as Friar jumped a seasonal-best wind-aided mark of 42 feet, 6 ¾ inches (+3.9) on her third jump for a 17th-place finish in the women’s event and Bellard posted a wind-aided mark of 49-6 ½ (+3.3) on his third attempt for a 34th-place finish in the men’s event.

LSU’s Qualifiers for the NCAA Championships Semifinals in Eugene, Oregon
Note: All times and marks were achieved this weekend at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds

Name, Event, Time/Mark (Place)
LaMar Bruton, 400 Meters, 45.99 (10)
Michael Cherry, 400 Meters, 45.22 (1)
Fitzroy Dunkley, 400 Meters, 45.46 (3)
Renard Howell, 200 Meters, 20.25w (3)
Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, 100 Meters, 10.20 (2)
Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, 200 Meters, 19.96w (1)
Jordan Moore, 110 Hurdles, 13.54 (5)
Tinashe Mutanga, 100 Meters, 10.34 (8)
Flournoy, Howell, Acy, Mitchell-Blake; 4x100 Relay; 39.04 (1)
Bruton, Cherry, Grayson, Dunkley; 4x400 Relay; 3:02.26 (1)

Lady Tigers
Name, Event, Time/Mark (Place)
Mikiah Brisco, 100 Meters, 11.32 (3)
Mikiah Brisco, 100 Hurdles, 13.02w (6)
Chanice Chase, 100 Hurdles, 12.92w (4)
Chanice Chase, 400 Hurdles, 55.35 (3)
Rushell Harvey, 100 Meters, 11.46 (10)
Kortnei Johnson, 100 Meters, 11.27 (1)
Kortnei Johnson, 200 Meters, 22.67w (5)
Ka’Lynn Jupiter, 400 Hurdles, 56.63 (11)
Jada Martin, 200 Meters, 22.41w (3)
Kymber Payne, 400 Hurdles, 56.38 (9)
Morgan Schuetz, 800 Meters, 2:04.86 (12)
Rebekah Wales, Javelin, 161-6 (6)
Brisco, Johnson, Martin, Harvey; 4x100 Relay; 43.43 (2)
Jones, Martin, Misher, Chase; 4x400 Relay;  3:29.91 (4)