Women's Track & Field Wins 23rd SEC Title at Indoor
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - After scoring 135 points over the course of three days of competition at the Randal Tyson Track Center, the No. 2-ranked Lady Tigers captured yet another conference title with their dominating victory Sunday afternoon at the 2011 SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships.
The Lady Tigers highlighted an exciting afternoon of championship action by defeating the homestanding Arkansas Razorbacks by a final score of 135-118 to capture their 23rd conference championship all-time and their league-leading 12th SEC Indoor title in program history. The Tennessee Lady Volunteers were in a distant third place after scoring 78 points during this year's SEC Indoor meet.
The Tigers earned a third-place finish in the men's team standings for the second-straight year following a 98-point performance. Florida (148) won the men's team title, followed by runner-up Arkansas (136.5).
LSU was led by a trio of SEC event champions during Sunday's action as senior Walter Henning won the men's 35-pound weight throw for the third-straight season, while sophomore Kimberlyn Duncan captured the women's 200-meter title and freshman Jasmin Stowers dominated the women's 60-meter hurdles.
In addition, 12 LSU athletes earned a total of 14 All-SEC accolades on the final day of the event with first or second place finishes in leading the Tigers and Lady Tigers during the competition.
"I continue to be impressed with the way our teams are competing right now. Our women especially did a great job and really deserved to win the championship," said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. "They came here knowing they would face a determined Arkansas team competing on their home track and that would create a very tight race for the team championship. It proved to be the case all the way to the end.
"Our teams just had a great meet this weekend. We're in a better position today to compete at the national meet on both sides than we were just three days ago when we got here."
Stowers made her presence known along with senior teammate Tenaya Jones in the very first event during Sunday's competition as the duo cruised to a 1-2 finish in sweeping 18 points in the 60-meter hurdles.
Stowers, a freshman from Pendleton, S.C., who entered the meet with a seasonal best and personal best of 8.13 seconds set earlier this month at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational in New York, was the first competitor to touch down over the first hurdle and never looked back as she clocked a new PR of 8.12 for the win. Jones followed in 8.18 for second place to earn her first career All-SEC accolade.
On the strength of her PR run, Stowers became the seventh different Lady Tiger in program history to win the SEC Indoor crown in the sprint hurdles as the LSU women have now captured 10 indoor conference titles all-time between the 55-meter hurdles and 60-meter hurdles.
"We really wanted to motivate our teammates to go out and get it done. With us getting first and second, I think that helped pump them up and get ready to run," Stowers said. "I was nervous with this being my first big (championship) meet, but I also knew that all I had to do was do my best and we could score a lot of points. That was big for us to go 1-2 in our first event today."
The Lady Tigers followed their performance in the 60-meter hurdles by sweeping All-SEC accolades with another 1-2 finish in the championship final of the women's 200-meter dash.
After scoring a point with an eighth-place finish in the 60-meter dash earlier in the day, Duncan clocked a new world-leading and NCAA-leading personal best of 22.78 to capture the women's 200-meter title over junior teammate Semoy Hackett (22.84). Hackett actually set the previous world-leading and national best time of 22.86 during the 200-meter prelim on Saturday afternoon.
Like Stowers, Duncan became the seventh Lady Tiger to win her event as the LSU women have now won 12 SEC Indoor 200-meter event championships in team history. Lady Tiger great Hazelann Regis was the last to win the 200-meter dash at the SEC Indoor Championships during her senior season in 2005.
"We all know what we have to do when we come to this meet. Coach Shaver is always telling us to do the things we did to get here and that the points are going to take care of themselves," Duncan said. "We were able to do that today. It feels great that Semoy and I are starting to run well together. We are ready for this NCAA meet. We've just done a great job of pushing each other all fall and now in the indoor season."
Hackett actually earned a pair of all-conference honors on the afternoon as she also picked up a runner-up finish in the women's 60-meter dash with a time of 7.25.
The Lady Tigers also picked up big points in the 800-meter run and triple jump, led by All-SEC efforts by seniors Brittany Hall and Melissa Ogbourne. Hall established a new indoor personal record of 2 minutes, 5.50 seconds to place second in the 800-meter final, while Ogbourne posted a mark of 42 feet, 8 inches on her fourth attempt to secure a second-place finish in the final of the women's triple jump.
Hall actually teamed with sophomore standout Charlene Lipsey to tally 14 points in the 800-meter final as Lipsey followed in third place with a new indoor personal record of 2:06.11, which is the eighth-fastest performance by a Lady Tiger in the indoor 800 meters and an indoor PR by more than one second.
Not only that, but junior All-American Rachel Laurent received her fourth career All-SEC selection in the pole vault by clearing the bar at 13-7 ¼ to finish second and add eight more points to LSU team total.
The women then wrapped up the meet with an All-SEC second place finish in the 4x400-meter relay, with the foursome of sophomore Latoya McDermott, junior Cassandra Tate, Hall and junior Jonique Day combining for an NCAA qualifying time of 3:33.21 for the fourth-fastest time in the country in 2011.
"There's not really much else I can say about our women and the way they performed these last couple of days," Shaver said. "They knew what they had to do coming in and got the job done. We probably scored a few more points than maybe what we figured we could score coming in. That's just a testament to them, and the way they came here determined to compete and win a team championship.
As he has done throughout his stellar three-year career at LSU, Henning set the tone for both the Tigers and Lady Tigers on Sunday with another championship performance in the men's 35-pound weight throw while defending the SEC Indoor crown he won as a sophomore in 2009 and as a junior in 2010.
After setting the SEC Indoor Championships meet record with a personal-best throw of 78 feet, 1 inch for his win a year ago, Henning posted a top mark Sunday afternoon of 73-8 to take home his fifth career title at the SEC Championships as he also owns two SEC Outdoor hammer throw crowns.
With his victory, the Bowerman Award hopeful also pushed his winning streak to 16-straight wins against collegiate competition between the weight throw indoors and hammer throw outdoors since 2010.
The Tigers actually picked up 20 total points in the men's 35-pound weight throw on Sunday as junior All-American Michael Lauro earned his first career All-SEC honor with a second-place finish after throwing a personal best and NCAA automatic qualifying throw of 70-7. Senior Ross Roubion then added two points with a seventh place finish after throwing 63-11 ¾ in the competition.
The Tigers also strengthened their roster for the NCAA Championships with four first-time qualifiers into the national meet, including three individuals and the 4x400-meter relay.
Horatio Williams was also one of LSU's leaders on the final day of competition as he scored 12 points for his appearances in the finals of both the 60-meter dash and 200-meter dash. He earned bronze medal third place finishes in each event while running 6.67 in the 60-meter final and 20.83 in the 200-meter final.
Among LSU's NCAA qualifiers setting new indoor personal bests include senior Zedric Thomas (53-3 ½) in the triple jump, junior Horatio Williams (20.83) in the 200-meter dash and sophomore Caleb Williams (46.08) in the 400-meter dash. Keyth Talley, Riker Hylton, Robert Simmons and Caleb Williams also met the NCAA qualifying standard in the 4x400-meter relay with a seasonal-best time of 3:05.61.
"You also have to recognize what our men did this afternoon to put them in a better position to compete at the NCAA Championships against the likes of Florida and Texas A&M," Shaver said. "We're going there with a clear understanding of what it takes to compete against those teams for that national title."
The Tigers and Lady Tigers will have one final opportunity to prepare for the national meet as they are set to host the LSU NCAA Indoor Qualifier on Friday at the Carl Maddox Field House.
The 2011 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships are set to run in two weeks from March 11-12 at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station.