EUGENE, Ore. – One fair jump is all senior Damar Forbes needed to soar into the history books as he put an exclamation point onto the end of a brilliant career on Thursday afternoon while being crowned the NCAA Champion in the men’s long jump to put the Tigers on the board at the 2013 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Forbes warmed up for the second flight needing to overtake the leading wind-aided mark of 26 feet, 1 ½ inches from Ohio State’s Mike Hartfield during in the first flight.
With strong winds gusting at the back of the jumpers on the Hayward Field infield, Forbes’ foot was just over the foul line at the board on his first attempt as he was without a mark through the first round.
But Forbes sent shockwaves through a packed grandstand along the home straightaway after taking to the runway for his second jump. With fans clapping along with each stride down the runway, Forbes hit the board and soared a distance of 27-4 ¾ into the pit to take a commanding lead. It was a career-best wind-aided jump for Forbes as he was aided with a tailwind of +2.9 meters per second.
Forbes’ raised his lifetime best under all conditions from 27-4 ½w that was set in winning his first career SEC long jump championship at the 2013 SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships on May 11.
While Forbes followed with another strong wind-aided jump of 26-8 ½ on his third attempt, he carried his lead of more than 15 inches over Hartfield into the final round of jumps. He elected to pass each of his jumps in the fourth and fifth rounds while continuing to lead the likes of Arkansas’ Raymond Higgs (26-4 ¼w) and Hartfield (26-1 ½w) in the title race.
After Higgs and Hartfield failed to improve their marks in the final round of jumps, Forbes took one last jump with the crowd again clapping along and posted a wind-legal 26-1 (+1.4) in his final jump as an LSU Tiger.
With his win, Forbes became the fifth Tiger in program history to win the long jump title at the NCAA Outdoor Championships as he joined the likes of Billy Brown (1941), Llewellyn Starks (1990), Walter Davis (2002) and John Moffitt (2004) as national champions in the event. He also put the first 10 points on the scoreboard for the Tigers during this year’s championship.
“As a jumper, you rely on the crowd for everything,” Forbes said of the environment during Thursday’s long jump competition. “When you feel yourself soaring and you hear the crowd behind it, you know it’s far. I did not really know how far it was, I didn’t know it was 27 (feet), but I knew it was pretty deep. I’m just happy it came out where it did.”
Forbes’ victory erased nearly three seasons of frustration after falling just short of securing the national title in each of his last four appearances at the NCAA Championships after capturing back-to-back NCAA Outdoor silver medals in 2011 and 2012 and back-to-back NCAA Indoor silver medals in 2012 and 2013.
His victory also extended an impressive winning streak for the Tigers as they have now won at least one NCAA event title in 16-straight seasons at the NCAA Outdoor Championships since the 1998 season. They’ve also won at least one NCAA Outdoor event championship in 26 of the last 27 seasons since 1987 with their only drought coming during the 1997 campaign.
Forbes talked about completing the season sweep of SEC Outdoor and NCAA Outdoor titles in the long jump as the nation’s undisputed champion in the event during his senior season with the Tigers.
“It feels great, feels awesome. I feel like a weight has been lifted off of me today,” Forbes said of his first national championship. “I can move on from here and not ever worry about not winning a championship. Now I won two my senior year, so it’s just a great feeling. I’ve got my ring.”
Senior Kimberlyn Duncan will take her shot at history on Saturday afternoon at Hayward Field as she sprinted into the finals of the women’s 200-meter dash once again for the third-straight season.
Duncan, the two-time defending NCAA Outdoor champion in the women’s 200-meter dash, will look to become the first sprinter in collegiate history – male or female – to win three national championships for the 200 meters in a career. She has already completed the historic “three-peat” this season at the NCAA Indoor meet as the nation’s most dominant 200-meter sprinter of her generation.
Running out of lane No. 5 in the second of three semifinal heats on Thursday afternoon, Duncan took control of the race by running a strong curve and pulled away on the straightaway for the win with her windy effort of 22.15 seconds (+2.7) for the fastest time of the day. Texas A&M’s Kamaria Brown followed Duncan across the finish line in 22.50w in the race.
It was the second-fastest wind-aided performance of Duncan’s career as he was just short of her best of 22.12w in winning her second of three SEC Outdoor championships as a junior during the 2012 season.
Duncan has an opportunity to score big points for the Lady Tigers over the final two days of this year’s NCAA Outdoor Championships as she will also line up in the final of the 100-meter dash on Friday night at 7 p.m. CT and run the second leg of LSU’s 4x100-meter relay to kick off Saturday’s finale at Hayward Field at 4:05 p.m.
“We expect that from Kim each time she has a chance to line up and run. She’s proven herself time and time again how great of a competitor she is for our team,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “This was another great day for our teams all the way around. We had a great day of qualifying on the track, and Damar really ended it with a big win in the long jump. There’s no one more deserving of an honor like that then he is at this meet. We’re so very proud of him for what he has contributed to our program over the years.”
Two Tigers came up short in their bid to advance to Saturday’s championship final in the men’s 200-meter dash as sophomore Aaron Ernest and freshman Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake lined up in Thursday’s semifinals.
After opening the championship on Wednesday by earning his lane in the final of the 100-meter dash, Ernest managed an eighth-place finish in the second heat of the 200-meter semifinal while stopping the clock with a wind-aided time of 20.73 (+3.2) for to finish in 20th place overall. He is set to line up again on Friday night with the men’s 100-meter final set to run at 7:10 p.m. CT.
Mitchell-Blake ran a career-best wind-aided time of 20.67 (+3.1) in his NCAA semifinals debut for a fifth-place finish in the third heat en route to a 16th-place finish overall in the event.
With the 200-meter semifinals in the books, junior Jasmin Stowers stepped onto the track for the first of three semifinal heats in the women’s 100-meter hurdles as she looked to add her name to LSU’s growing roster of national finalists returning to compete this weekend.
Despite battling a hamstring injury for much of the 2013 outdoor season, Stowers ran her fastest hurdles race in more than two months as she crossed the finish line with a wind-aided 13.08 (+2.8) to claim second place in the race and advance to the NCAA final in the event for the second-straight season. She trailed only the winning run of 12.99w by UTEP’s Janice Jackson in the heat.
Stowers showed her All-America form early in the season when she matched her lifetime best under all conditions with a seasonal-best wind-aided time of 12.88 at the Texas Relays on March 30, but suffered an injury to her hamstring while running the 100-meter dash at LSU’s Battle on the Bayou in Baton Rouge on April 13. She was held out of action for nearly one month when she returned to action with her first hurdle race in the preliminary round of the event at the SEC Outdoor Championships on May 11.
But Stowers has steadily improved during the championship season as she now has an opportunity to score vital points for the Lady Tigers in the final of the 100 hurdles on Saturday afternoon at 5:09 p.m. CT.
Stowers is the reigning NCAA Indoor bronze medalist in the 60-meter hurdles with her performance this season, while she earned her first career All-America honor outdoors as a sophomore a year ago when she took home a fifth-place finish in the final of the 100-meter hurdles at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships held at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers then wrapped up Thursday’s semifinals on the track with qualifying performances in the 4x400-meter relay as each will line up in the championship finale on Saturday beginning at 5:43 p.m.
The Tigers smashed their seasonal best by more than one second as the team of sophomore Quincy Downing, senior Caleb Williams, freshman Cyril Grayson and freshman Darrell Bush combined for a second-place run of 3 minutes, 4.08 seconds behind the winning time of 3:04.00 by Arkansas in the first semifinal heat. That performance eclipsed their previous seasonal best of 3:05.27 set at the Texas Relays on March 30.
The Tigers will line up alongside the likes of Texas A&M (3:02.38), Florida (3:02.64), Oregon (3:04.20), TCU (3:04.71) Illinois (3:04.97) and Baylor (3:05.38) in the men’s 4x400-meter relay final.
The Lady Tigers grabbed the eighth and final qualifying spot into the final of the women’s 4x400-meter relay after running 3:32.12 for their third-fastest performance of the season. Running for the Lady Tigers were the likes of senior Siedda Herbert, junior Nikita Tracey, senior Latoya McDermott and junior Natoya Goule as they finished in fourth place behind Oregon (3:28.15), Florida (3:30.48) and Illinois (3:30.54) in the first heat.
Also qualifying for Saturday’s championship final in the women’s 4x400-meter relay were teams from Texas (3:29.63), Arkansas (3:30.45), Kansas (3:31.96) and Texas A&M (3:32.72).
“We’ve had two really good days of qualifying on the track to put ourselves in a good position to compete this weekend,” Shaver said. “That’s especially true on the women’s side. They have done just about all they’re able to do to this point. We’ve got two more days for both our men and our women to finish off this meet the way we want. We look forward to coming back out here tomorrow for another chance to compete.”
The action continues at the 2013 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Friday evening as the Tigers and Lady Tigers return to Hayward Field at 6 p.m. CT as sophomore Rodney Brown competes in the men’s discus followed by LSU’s first finals on the track at 6:30 p.m. Live updates are available by liking LSU Track & Field on Facebook and following @LSUTrackField on Twitter.
ESPNU will provide a live television broadcast of Friday’s events from 6:30-9 p.m. CT. Pac-12 Live Stream will also provide live streaming video of Friday’s action from 2:30-6:30 p.m. at http://lsul.su/14oZs5X.