Lady Tigers Defend SEC Outdoor Crown; Men Fourth
ATHENS, Ga. - Fueled by a dominating performance by its sprints and hurdles group with four event wins Sunday afternoon at Georgia's Spec Towns Track, the No. 1-ranked Lady Tigers completed a season sweep of SEC titles by defending their crown at the 2011 SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Paving the way for LSU's run to the team crown were individual champions Semoy Hackett (100 meters), Kimberlyn Duncan (200 meters) and Jasmin Stowers (100 hurdles). The Lady Tigers also ran away with a conference title in the 4x100-meter relay to solidify their dominance in this year's meet.
In fact, Hackett took home the SEC Commissioner's Trophy given to the top point scorer on the women's side as she added an All-SEC second-place finish in final of the 200-meter dash behind Duncan.
On a warm and windy afternoon in Athens, the Lady Tigers piled up 107 points for Sunday's finale for an impressive total of 146 points in four days of competition. With that performance, the LSU women earned a decisive 30-point victory over runner-up Florida (116) for the team championship. Arkansas placed well back in third place in the women's team standings with 107 points.
Not only did the Lady Tigers continue their dominance by winning a fourth team title at the SEC Outdoor Championships in the past five seasons, but they snapped a brief two-year drought with a season sweep of SEC Indoor and SEC Outdoor titles for the first time since the 2008 season.
LSU scored 135 points to take home the team title over Arkansas (118) at the SEC Indoor Championships held in March, giving the Lady Tigers 12 SEC Indoor and 12 SEC Outdoor titles in program history.
An SEC title defense by junior Barrett Nugent in the final of the men's 110-meter hurdles helped pave the way to a fourth-place finish by the No. 3-ranked Tigers in the final men's team standings. By scoring their 78 points, the Tigers followed Arkansas (147.5), Florida (130) and Georgia (99) in the final standings.
"I really feel like our women came here to these SEC Championships and became a much better team this weekend," said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. "You have to give them a lot of credit with how each one of them competed this weekend to defend their championship. They deserved it. There's no doubt about it today. It was going to take a tremendous effort by another team to take it away from these ladies."
"We didn't have as good of a meet on the men's side as we would have liked, but we still saw some really great individual performances today, led by Barrett Nugent with his win in the hurdles. We've got a lot of things to build on and improve on as we continue on to the NCAA Championships."
Hackett enjoyed perhaps the most impressive individual performance of this year's meet for the women in taking home the SEC title in the 100-meter dash, finishing runner-up in the 200-meter dash and running at the second leg of the winning 4x100-meter relay team to score 20.5 points for the Lady Tigers.
In the first final on the track during Sunday's competition, Hackett joined senior Kenyanna Wilson, junior Rebecca Alexander and Duncan to set a new Spec Towns Track stadium record of 43.47 seconds to cruise to victory in the 4x100-meter relay by nearly one full second over Arkansas (44.32).
The Lady Tigers took home their league-leading 17th SEC Outdoor championship in the sprint relay in the program's history and their first conference title since the 2008 season.
Hackett then returned to the track little over an hour later for the 100-meter final, in which she won one of the most exciting races of the day with a wind-aided time of 11.01 (+2.4). After running second to South Carolina's LaKya Brookins for much of the race, Hackett closed strong to nip both Brookins (11.02) in second place and Duncan (11.02) in third place at the finish line for the victory.
Hackett's victory is the 15th SEC title won by a Lady Tiger in the 100-meter dash in championship history and the third in four years with Kelly Baptiste (2008) and Wilson (2009) as the most recent champions.
The Lady Tigers actually scored 21 points in the 100-meter dash as Wilson followed in fourth place while running a seasonal-best wind-aided time of 11.11 to give LSU first, third and fourth positions.
"I was mentally prepared coming into the meet, so I just went out and did what I knew I had to do so we'd have a chance to win it," Hackett said. "I think I'm most proud about the 100. I've been working hard this year to get better in my race, and I think that was probably one of the best races I've had this season.
"I'm not too familiar with it (SEC Commissioner's Trophy), but I'm happy with my performance. I didn't know they gave out an award like this. I was very surprised when they called my name to get it."
It was Duncan's turn to climb to the top of the award's stand in the 200-meter final as the reigning NCAA Indoor champion clocked a windy 22.27 to finish ahead of Hackett (22.41) in an event in which LSU took control of the team race with 18 points. Duncan, who completed the season sweep of 200-meter crowns at the SEC Championships, captured LSU's 10th SEC Outdoor title in the event in program history.
"I could really feel Semoy coming. I knew she was going to get out in that first 100," Duncan said. "It is a great feeling to share this with my teammates. I'm proud of everyone here for the way we competed in the meet to win this team title. We knew we would keep it if we did what we were supposed to do."
If Hackett was LSU's most impressive individual performer for the afternoon, Stowers was a close second as she became the first freshman in LSU history to be crowned SEC champion in the 100-meter hurdles.
Stowers, who entered the meet with a top wind-legal time this season at 13.15, shattered her PR following a tremendous performance in Sunday's final in which she ran away from the rest of the field to win with a wind-legal of 12.88. South Carolina's Kierre Beckles finished well behind Stowers in second place for the event title with a time of 13.10, while Lady Tiger teammate Tenaya Jones placed third in 13.21.
Stowers' winning time of 12.88 ranks as the No. 8 performance all-time by a Lady Tiger in the hurdles, as the Lady Tigers racked up 16 more points by finishing in first place and third place in the event final.
After winning the SEC Indoor title in the 60-meter hurdles in her first conference meet in March, Stowers became the 10th different Lady Tiger to win the SEC Outdoor crown in the 100-meter hurdles all-time and the first to accomplish the feat since Nickiesha Wilson during the 2008 campaign.
Two other Lady Tigers earned All-SEC honors during Sunday's competition with second-place finishes at Spec Towns Track, led by a personal-best performance by junior Cassandra Tate in the 400 hurdles.
The defending SEC champion came up just short in her bid to retain her title with a runner-up finish, even while shattering her own personal record in the event with a time of 56.03. Tennessee star Ellen Wortham ran the race of her life in winning the SEC title in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 55.70.
Senior Melissa Ogbourne added eight more points to LSU's team total with a runner-up finish in the triple jump as she posted a top wind-aided mark on the afternoon of 43 feet, 2 ¼ inches. The triple jump was yet another big event for the Lady Tigers as freshman Lynnika Pitts (41-1 ¾w) took sixth place overall.
LSU actually took control of the team race with its performance in the 800-meter final led by a third-place finish by sophomore Charlene Lipsey (2:05.88) and a seventh-place finish by senior Brittany Hall (2:08.13) for a total of eight points in the event. With 16 of 21 events in the books following the final heat of the 800 meters, the Lady Tigers took a 103-97 lead over Florida that they would never relinquish.
The Lady Tigers wrapped up this year's SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships with a bronze-medal winning third-place finish in the 4x400-meter relay final as the squad of Alexander, Latoya McDermott, Tate and Jonique Day clocked 3:35.15 to finish behind Arkansas (3:32.23) and Auburn (3:32.93).
Freshman Annie Simoneaux also took home a bronze medal in her first SEC Championships as she took a third place overall in the women's javelin with a top mark of 148-0.
Nugent set the pace for the Tigers on the final day of competition at this year's SEC Championships as he defended the conference title in the 110-meter hurdles that he won as a sophomore a season ago.
While Stowers cruised to an easy victory in the women's hurdles, Nugent had to come from behind with a surge over the final four hurdles of the race to reclaim his crown. Nugent found himself running in third at the midway point of the race, but managed to quicken his steps down the stretch to make up the ground he needed to defeat Florida's Eddie Lovett (13.64) and Kentucky's Keith Hayes (13.70) with a 13.61w.
Nugent actually made a bit of history with his win Sunday afternoon as he became LSU's first hurdler all-time to win back-to-back SEC titles in the 110-meter hurdles in meet history.
"I wasn't too happy with the way I ran, but a win is a win in a championship meet like this, so I am happy with that," Nugent said. "Today just shows what experience can do. Even though I didn't run my best race, I knew to quicken up my steps over the hurdles to give myself a chance to come back late."
Earning All-SEC accolades for the Tigers with second-place finishes in their respective events on Sunday, while scoring eight points apiece, were senior Marcus McGehee in the pole vault (17-4 ½) and junior Horatio Williams in the 200-meter dash (20.50). McGehee added a runner-up finish outdoors to a second-place finish in the pole vault at the SEC Indoor Championships earlier this season.
Senior Zedric Thomas was the lone Tiger to win a bronze medal with his performance on Sunday with his top wind-aided mark of 55-4 ¼ in the triple jump. It would have taken a monumental effort for Thomas to earn All-SEC honors at this year's SEC outdoor meet as Will Claye (56-6 ¾w) and Christian Taylor (56-3 ¼) of Florida grabbed the top two spots. Taylor's wind-legal 56-3 ¼ set a new SEC meet record.
Next up for LSU will be a trip to Bloomington, Ind., in two weeks as they begin their march to the NCAA Championships with an appearance at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds to be held on May 27-29 at the E.C. Billy Hayes Track on the campus of the University of Indiana.
Drake Stadium at Drake University will serve as host of the semifinal and final rounds of the 2011 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track &Field Championships as the meet returns to Des Moines, Iowa, on June 8-11.