St. Catherine, Jamaica
2003 Pan-Am Games - 4th, triple jump
2003 Central American and Caribbean Championships - 1st, triple jump
1999 World Championships participant
Three-time SEC Champion
Four-time SEC Champion
LSU Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Year: 2007
A 21-time All-American for the nationally-acclaimed LSU women’s track and field team from 1988-91, Esther Jones is the most decorated athlete -- male or female -- in the history of the sport at the school. Jones helped the Lady Tigers claim six national titles (four outdoor and two indoor) during her four-year career. A native of Chicago who grew up in Milwaukee, she was a dominant short sprinter and a force in relays. She won 10 Southeastern Conference titles. Jones won a gold medal with the U.S. 4 x 100 team in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.
One can imagine visions of gold forever in the mind of Lady Tiger great Suzette Lee as she reflects upon a brilliant two-year collegiate career that saw her capture three NCAA triple jump titles while establishing her legacy as the most decorated jumper in the proud history of the LSU Track & Field program.
Lee was also a catalyst of four national championship teams as the Lady Tigers swept both NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor team titles in 1996 and 1997.
And while helping to lead the Lady Tigers to the NCAA Outdoor crown in each of her two seasons on the collegiate level, Lee joined a proud lineage that saw the women win an unprecedented 11-straight outdoor championships from 1987-97 that stands as the benchmark of excellence in college athletics to this day.
It would be easy to assume that Lee might share such a championship moment when asked to reveal some of her proudest memories as a Lady Tiger.
But Lee shares a memory of a different sort.
Her memories as an LSU Track & Field star immediately turn to the night of March 9, 1996, in her first NCAA Championships appearance with the Lady Tigers as she stepped onto the triple jump runway as a favorite to stake her claim as the event's national champion at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis.
And it was that night that only one round of jumps separated Lee from her first career national title as she held a comfortable lead with the eight finalists preparing for the sixth and final round.
Lee's top mark of 44 feet, 8 inches in the fourth round was seven and a half inches clear of equal jumps of 44-0 ½ set by Georgia's Icolyn Kelly and Nebraska's Nicola Martial earlier in the competition.
But on that night, it was Martial who would hand Lee her only defeat in the triple jump in two years at the NCAA Championships. After Martial's final attempt was measured, she finished just one centimeter clear of Lee in the final standings with her winning mark of 44-8 ¼.
"Losing by a quarter of an inch, that was the worst," Lee remembered. "That was my only loss at NCAAs and is one of the things I remember most about my time at LSU. And it really wasn't long after I got to LSU just a couple months before in January of that year. I think (Nicola Martial) was from Grenada in the Caribbean, so we sort of had a connection there too."
While Martial may have won the triple jump title, it was Lee and the Lady Tigers taking home a team title with a 52-34 victory over Georgia at the 1996 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships. Texas finished well back in third place overall with 31 points, while both Florida and Nebraska finished at a tie for fourth place in the team race with 28 points apiece.
It was the first of four NCAA team championships that Lee would win in her two seasons as a Lady Tiger as LSU swept NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor crowns in both 1996 and 1997.
She would also have her revenge at the 1996 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., as she won her first career NCAA triple jump title with a winning mark of 45-1 at Hayward Field. That win sparked a reign as the NCAA's most dominant female triple jumper of the era.
As a senior in 1997, Lee made history while claiming her first NCAA Indoor triple jump championship as she set the indoor collegiate record of 46-9 that still stands to this day. She even secured an NCAA Indoor runner-up finish in her secondary event - the long jump - en route to scoring 18 points for the meet.
After defending her NCAA Outdoor crown that season, Lee put an exclamation point onto the end of such a brilliant career as the most accomplished jumper to ever wear the purple and gold.
"When I came to LSU, everyone here was so good at what they did that I thought you just had to win. It is what's expected of you," Lee said. "And I didn't expect anything less of myself. I worked even harder than maybe other people because I wanted to be just like those great athletes that were there before me. If my teammates around me were doing so well, I wanted to elevate myself to that next level with them."
Lee could have never imagined that her career would even take her all the way to the Olympic Games and World Championships while growing up as a young girl in St. Catherine, Jamaica.
At just 10 years old, Lee won a long jump event held as part of an athletics day at her primary school that served as a crude introduction to the sport of track and field.
"I really started jumping by accident," Lee recalls. "They built this big sand pit and told all of the students to run and jump in it to see how far we could jump. I ended up winning it. I even remember exactly what I jumped. I jumped like 16 feet, 9 inches. So, they ended up sending me to a prep school championship and did well there and then on into my high school years."
The list of alumni produced by world-renown St. Jago High School reads like a "Who's Who" of the very best track and field athletes to compete on the world stage over the 15 years.
Among the athletes who have competed for St. Jago are 2008 Olympic 400-meter hurdles gold medalist Melaine Walker, 2008 Olympic 100-meter silver medalist and 200-meter bronze medalist Kerron Stewart and 2011 World 100-meter dash champion Yohan Blake.
It's a program that has also produced the great Peta-Gaye Dowdie, who is one of the most decorated Lady Tiger sprinters in team history as a three-time NCAA champion, 12-time SEC champion and 19-time All-American during her collegiate career at LSU from 1997-2000.
And it was Lee's experience at St. Jago High School in the early 1990s that would set her on her path as a potential star in the making in the triple jump.
During her sophomore season at St. Jago in 1991, the Jamaican capital of Kingston played host to the Pan American Junior Championships featuring the top youth athletes from the Americas and the Caribbean.
"None of us had ever done it or knew what it was," Lee said about the triple jump. "The coach took about five of us to the track the day of the competition to see who could hop, step and jump into the pit. I think I was the only one who made it, so I was did the triple jump at the Pan American Games that year and even won the bronze medal. That's how I started doing the triple jump."
Following a two-year stint at Barton County Community College in Great Bend, Kan., Lee made a choice to sign with LSU after seeing former LSU jumps coach Dan Pfaff in action at the 1995 Texas Relays. Lee was later coached at LSU by Boo Schexnayder after he replaced Pfaff in 1996.
"I first met Dan Pfaff at the Texas Relays," Lee said. "The LSU girls were having a horrible meet that day and he sat there and just chewed them out. I was with two other Barton girls watching all of it and just fell in love with LSU right then just because of how hard he was on them and how they responded to him.
"I was like, 'That's where I'm going.' My teammates were like, 'Are you crazy? Don't you see how crazy their coach is?' But I said, 'I love it. That's where I'm going.'"
It's a decision that certainly paid off for Lee as she will now earn induction into the LSU Athletics Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2011 during Friday's festivities.
After wrapping up her athletics career competing for Jamaica at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga., and the World Championships in Athens, Greece, in 1997 and Seville, Spain, in 1999, Lee has gone on to enjoy a successful career as a personal trainer and physical therapy assistant in Houston, Texas.
She is actually married to former Tiger jumper and relay standout Mike Alridge, who was a five-time All-American in his own right during his collegiate career from 1996-98. He was actually a member the squad that set the 4x100-meter relay school record of 38.24 seconds in an NCAA runner-up finish in 1998.
They are also the proud parents of their 4-year-old son, Jace.
"LSU is really just like a family to me," Lee said. "LSU has a great alumni base here in Houston. Most of my clients are actually LSU graduates. So, you never stop being an LSU Tiger. It's your family for life. It is one of the best decisions I've ever made for myself. LSU Track & Field is very special to me, and since I found out I would be getting inducted, it's really been like a dream. I'm very grateful."