Lady Tigers Take Team Title at Texas A&M Tri
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Senior Kimberlyn Duncan and sophomore Aaron Ernest were dominant in their sweep of 200-meter titles and the Lady Tigers took home the women's team title with their efforts at the Texas A&M Triangular held Saturday afternoon at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium.
The Lady Tigers scored a dramatic come-from-behind victory with a late surge as they vaulted from third place and into the lead over the final two events to capture the women's team title with 107.5 points in the competition ahead of Texas A&M (103.5) in second place and Arkansas (103) in third place.
This marks the second year in a row in which the Lady Tigers have taken a scored competition in College Station as they defeated the Aggies in a dual meet by a score of 82.5-76.5 during the 2012 season.
The Aggies defended their home track in winning the men's crown with 128.5 points, followed by Arkansas in second place with 99 points and LSU in third place with 82.5 points.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers combined for seven event titles in Saturday's triangular as Duncan and Ernest were joined on the winner's podium by senior Charlene Lipsey (mile), juniors Keri Emanuel (triple jump) and Denise Hinton (weight throw) and sophomores Tori Bliss and Rodney Brown in the shot put.
"I am very proud of our athletes in the way they competed today against two very good teams in Arkansas and Texas A&M," said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. "Our women should be recognized especially for the way they fought to the very end to win the team title. It just shows the quality of the teams in this field that so few points separated the three teams. We are happy to win it on that side."
Duncan opened the defense of her NCAA Indoor 200-meter title with an NCAA-leading performance this weekend as she sprinted to the finish line in 23.15 seconds in her season opener.
Duncan lined up in lane No. 4 for the first 200-meter heat on the inside of Kamaria Brown of Texas A&M in lane No. 5 and Regina George of Arkansas in lane No. 6. Duncan got out fast and took control of the race by pulling even with Brown on the backstretch. She pulled ahead around the final curve and held that advantage over the NCAA Indoor bronze medalist while taking the title in 23.15. Brown took second with her 23.21, while Texas A&M's Ashton Purvis took third place with her heat win in 23.34.
It was Duncan's 19th-straight 200-meter victory against collegiate competition between the indoor and the outdoor seasons dating back to her sophomore season indoors in 2010.
Ernest followed with an impressive 200-meter win of his own while taking down the reigning SEC Men's Runner of the Week on his home track in the form of Aggie All-American Prezel Hardy, Jr.
Unlike Duncan, Ernest could not see his competition while lining up on the outside in lane No. 6. He fired out of the blocks and held the stagger on Hardy racing down the backstretch before surging ahead coming off the final turn and crossing the finish line with an indoor personal record of 20.79. Hardy, Jr. posted a time of 21.05 for second place with Aggie teammate Michael Bryan running 21.18 for third place while winning the third heat.
Ernest has now set an indoor PR in the 200-meter dash for the second-straight week after opening the year with a 20.80 clocking for the victory at the Crimson Tide Indoor Opener in Birmingham last weekend. He still trails the SEC-leading 20.78 run by Hardy, Jr. in his opener a week ago.
Ernest's victory in the 200 meters followed his first personal-best performance of the day when he earned fourth-place in his first 60-meter race of the season with a PR of 6.82.
"Our athletes really took advantage of a good week of practice with some outstanding performances in the meet today," Shaver said. "It was a lot of fun watching Kim and Aaron compete to win those 200s, but we saw some great performances throughout the day today to highlight a great meet."
Lipsey got the Lady Tigers off to a fast start with a comfortable victory in the mile as she slashed nearly a full second off of her personal best with a winning run of 4 minutes, 44.20 seconds.
Lipsey got off to a fast start and led from the front for the first six laps of the race before she fell back into third place behind Razorbacks Grace Heymsfield and Dominique Scott with just two laps remaining. That is when she surged back to the front on the bell lap and held off the Arkansas runners for a narrow victory in 4:44.20. Heymsfield followed in second place at 4:44.54 with Scott taking third place at 4:44.78.
Lipsey entered the NCAA rankings in the No. 5 spot nationally following her first mile race of 2013 and strengthened her hold on the No. 6 spot on LSU's all-time list in the event.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers added four wins in the field events on Saturday, including a sweep of shot put titles with clinching marks of 54 feet, 9 ¼ by Brown and 51-7 by Bliss. Brown added a personal record of 61-5 ½ for second place in the weight throw as he moved to No. 9 on LSU's all-time list.
Hinton also raised her seasonal best to 65-1 ¼ to take the women's weight throw crown by more than five feet over a season's best of 59-10 ½ by Lady Tiger junior Karen Henning in the final event standings.
But it was Emanuel that led the Lady Tigers comeback with her triple jump victory late in the competition as she moved from second place to first place with a winning mark of 40-9 ½ on her final jump.
Texas A&M freshman Jennifer Madu took an early lead with an opening mark of 40-9 ½ on her first jump of the competition and held a slim advantage over Emanuel and LSU's Lynnika Pitts heading into the last round of jumps. While Pitts was unable to improve her second-round mark of 40-6, Emanuel matched the mark of 40-9 ½ by Madu and was awarded the victory with the best second jump of 40-6.
The Lady Tigers scored 11 points in the event to seven points for the Aggies to take a 102.5-99.5 lead into the final event of the day in the 4x400-meter relay. That's where the Lady Tigers clinched the team crown with a seasonal-best performance for a final margin of 107.5-103.5 over the Aggies.
While running with a team of senior Siedda Herbert, Lipsey, sophomore Montenae Roye-Speight and junior Natoya Goule, the Lady Tigers ran a seasonal-best of 3:37.15 for the second-fastest time in the county for the indoor season behind the 3:36.03 by Arkansas for the event crown.
The Tigers followed with a seasonal-best and second-place finish of their own in the 4x400-meter relay as freshman Cyril Grayson, sophomore Quincy Downing, senior Caleb Williams and freshman Darrell Bush teamed to run the NCAA's fourth-fastest time of 2013 at 3:07.74. After posting a national-leading 3:06.25 in its opener a week ago, Texas A&M won the men's relay on Saturday with a run of 3:07.21.
Both Bush and Grayson ran new indoor PRs in the 400 meters earlier in the competition as Bush recorded a 47.66 for sixth place and Grayson clocked a 47.89 for seventh place in the event final.
Among the Tigers also setting indoor PRs on Saturday were senior Damar Forbes with a time of 6.82 with his effort in the 60 meters, senior Anthony Whitaker with a run of 1:52.80 in the 800 meters, junior Shermund Allsop with his time of 21.63 in the 200 meters and freshman Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake with a pair of times of 6.93 in the 60 meters and 21.42 in the 200 meters.
Other Lady Tigers recording indoor personal bests during the meet were junior Nikita Tracey with her run of 55.80 in the 400 meters, sophomore Kaitlyn Moreau at 8.94 in the 60-meter hurdles and 17-5 ¼ in the long jump and freshmen Chanice Chase at 8.77 in the 60 hurdles, Aliyah Davis at 25.17 in the 200 meters and Shanice Hall with a clearance of 5-8 in the high jump to highlight the action.
"We're a better team on both sides today than we were just a week ago," Shaver said. "We are looking for continued improvement from both of our teams week in and week out. We have another great opportunity to do just that a week from when we go to Fayetteville for the first time."
LSU Track & Field continues the 2013 indoor season next weekend with its first of four trips to Arkansas as the Tigers and Lady Tigers will compete as part of an NCAA caliber field at this year's Razorback Invitational being held Jan. 25-26 at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville. They then make a trip to New York City on the weekend of Feb. 1-2 for the Armory Collegiate Invitational.