Johnson, Brisco, Hobbs, Misher
Bryan Wayne

The Best to Ever Do It

Aaron Hyder
Aaron Hyder
Asst. Communications Director

42.05.

 

The best to ever do it. The greatest of all time. The best of the best. No one better.

 

Those are just a few of the phrases that will inevitably describe the 2017 and 2018 LSU women’s 4x100 meter relay for a long time to come. In a two year span, the Lady Tigers’ 4x1 raced 18 times, 15 of those races resulted in a win for the Purple and Gold. After the dust settled, the Tigers now own six of the top eight 4x100 meter relay times in NCAA history, including the NCAA record of 42.05.

 

We’ll begin with the history of LSU and the 4x100 meter relay. Regarded as the best sprint relay program in NCAA history, the Purple and Gold have traditionally dominated the event that sees four women pass a baton around the track in under 44 seconds. Dating back to the 1982 (37 years ago), LSU has won 15 national titles to account for 40 percent of the NCAA titles in the event.

 

The lineup has had three key cogs over the past two years with multiple-time national champions Aleia Hobbs, Mikiah Brisco and Kortnei Johnson. Those three have teamed up with Jada Martin and Rachel Misher to rewrite the collegiate record book for good. A race that takes an extreme amount of chemistry for the quick exchanges, it rewards teams that are technical and speedy. The slightest misstep or timing issue can cause an unrepairable rhythm that results in a slow time, but over the last two years, the LSU women’s 4x100 meter relay, for the most part, has limited the mistakes and taken the baton around the track in fine fashion.

 

National Champions

Brisco and Johnson have been members of the past two LSU 4x100 meter relay national titles, claiming their first one in 2016 and then winning their second earlier this summer in June. Hobbs and Misher had never been on a 4x100 meter relay national title team until 2018 when they teamed up with Brisco and Johnson for the gold.

 

“It really means a lot,” Brisco said when talking about her two relay national titles. “When you walk into the indoor track, you see a wall that is dedicated to relay championships. Just to see the names that are on that wall is amazing. To know that I’m up there twice and that I will be associated with some of those other names up there is truly special.”

 

At the first race of the 2018 NCAA Championships, the foursome circled the track in an NCAA meet record time of 42.09 to easily advance to the finals. Running in not the most ideal conditions on the final day of the meet, the foursome grouped up and brought the stick around the track in 42.25 seconds to claim LSU’s 15th title in the event.

 

“Being at LSU, making the top-10 list is hard, but to do what we did on the NCAA list is hard to believe,” Hobbs mentioned. “To run that many fast times over the past two years is unheard of. It’s a really good feeling to know that those times will last a long time. We put in a lot of hard work into this event, and to see it pay off the way it did was something else.”

 

The time of 42.25 blew the rest of the field away with no other relay even going below 43 seconds. Oregon was the runner-up in the race with a 43.09 that resulted in a .84 second differential between the Lady Tigers and the Ducks. That .84 second differential was the largest winning margin in the 4x100 meter relay at the NCAA Championships since 2010.

 

“It was a very special moment, especially for the seniors,” Johnson noted. “That’s who we really wanted to do it for. The ending of our 2017 season {a DQ due to an exchange out of the zone) was our motivation. Everything happens for a reason, and we used that to push us to be better. We could not let that happen again. Mikiah and I made sure we had our exchanges down to the point this season.”

 

The third leg of the relay, one that Misher would eventually claim, was up for grabs entering the 2018 season. After helping the 4x1 set what was then a season best at the first outdoor home meet of the season, a 42.50, Misher clocked a 11.2 in the open 100 meters at the Miami Hurricane Invitational and from that point on she was a mainstay on the relay squad.

 

“It had always been a thought of mine – what if I got to run the 4x1,” Misher said. “I’ve always been someone who has displayed speed over short distances even though I run the longer sprints. Once I got on it though, I was so nervous. I knew what the other three women on the relay were capable of, so I just had to trust myself and know that I could make a difference. I’m so proud to have been a member of this relay and to contribute to a national title in the event.”

 

Collegiate Record

On a Sunday afternoon at the Tom Black Track in Knoxville, Tenn., in mid-May, the foursome mainly had goals of scoring 10 points for LSU’s last-day push to become SEC team champions, but little did they know that the race they would run would go down as the fastest in collegiate history.

 

Coming out of the blocks, Brisco was the fastest starting leg by a good bit. She handed over the stick to Johnson and off she went on the back straightaway. When Johnson handed off to Misher, LSU was neck and neck with Kentucky, and that’s when Misher gained ground before giving way to the second-fastest sprinter in NCAA history, Aleia Hobbs. Hobbs crossed the line and a time of 42.05 popped up on the scoreboard as the 4x1 secured 10 points for the Lady Tigers whilst setting the collegiate record. And by the way, the 42.05 is still a world best in 2018.

 

“That race was very special,” Hobbs noted. “The crazy thing about that time was that our passes weren’t even that great. To know that we ran the fastest time in collegiate history without firing on all cylinders is very cool.”

These four women set the collegiate record and didn’t even have smooth exchanges. All four women would go on to score points in multiple individual events and aided LSU’s last-day charge to a second-place finish at the SEC meet with 88.5 points. The four women combined to score 45.5 points at the loaded SEC meet for the Purple and Gold.

 

“That race was actually pretty amazing how it happened,” Johnson remembers. “To be honest, our exchanges were not that great. When you see that time pop up on the scoreboard and realize what you just accomplished, it’s very exciting. It felt amazing to have that 4x1 record to ourselves.”

 

It was a little bit of a tease for the Lady Tigers as they crossed the finish line. The initial reading on the scoreboard at the Tom Black Track popped up a number in the 41-second range.

 

“We always had aspirations of running in the 41s, so when I saw the final time of 42.05 on the board, I was kind of disappointed,” Misher mentioned. “But then you realize you won and SEC title and set a collegiate record, you just have to be thankful for getting it done.”

 

Two-Time National Relay Champs

Mikiah Brisco and Kortnei Johnson are now two-time 4x100 meter relay national champions after their latest triumph in June. Brisco has been handing off the baton to Johnson for two and a half years now after taking over as the lead leg midway through the 2016 season. On the receiving end of her brilliant starts has been Johnson, and more often than not, by the time the stick is around to the third leg, the dynamic duo of Brisco and Johnson had built a noticeable lead for the Lady Tigers.

 

“After I get out of the blocks, all I want to do is to try to catch the person that is in front of me on my outside and get the stick off to Kortnei in a good position,” Brisco said about her role as the leadoff leg. “You never know what can happen in a 4x1, so I just always focused on putting our squad in the best position that would give us a little room for error if we needed it.”

 

The duo served as the first two legs of the 4x100 meter relay for both national titles and won the 2016 NCAA title with a season-best readout of 42.65. In 2018, they were members of the 4x100 meter relay that claimed the top spot with a time of 42.25.

 

“My form wasn’t really too great as a freshman, so it was kind of shocking for us to win,” Johnson mentioned. “It was a very, very big accomplishment for us and I’ll never forget it because it was my first national title. We got the things done that we had to, and that resulted in a national title.”

 

There was a little bit of a hiccup between the two in in 2017 at the NCAA Championships when LSU was disqualified for a pass outside of the zone, the only mishap of their careers when running as the first and second legs of the 4x1. You could say it may have served as a bit of a motivator for the duo in 2018 as they sought redemption.

 

“In 2017, Kortnei and I didn’t pass the stick in the exchange zone,” Brisco said. “That’s something that we really focused on this year {2018}. We just really wanted to make sure we got the stick around the track to win a national title, and we did that.”

 

Brisco’s Purple and Gold career has come to an end, but Johnson has one more year left of collegiate eligibility in 2019, and you can assuredly bet she’ll play a major roll on the 4x1 as a senior.

 

Springboard for Hobbs

The 4x100 meter relay was the precursor to Hobbs’ first-career 100 meter dash NCAA title that took place later in the day. Running in the midst of a downpour, Hobbs ran an 11.01 to win the individual title. The 11.01 that was the fastest time to ever be run into a headwind.

 

“The 4x1 is what got me started in Oregon,” Hobbs noted. “It just got me ready for the rest of the day up there. I watched Mikiah get out, I just started thinking about getting the stick around. Pass one got through, second pass went well and then it was my turn. Once it was my turn, I just knew I had to finish the rest.”

 

After her win at the NCAA meet, Hobbs went on to claim the 100 meter dash title at the USATF Championships when she beat out a field of seven other runners in late June with a time of 10.91. With her triumph at the USTAF meet, Hobbs became the first woman in history to win the 60 meter NCAA title, the 100 meter NCAA title and the 100 meter USATF title in the same year.

 

The Returnees

The legacy of this 4x100 meter relay will live on forever, but come 2019, it will be time for a newly formed foursome to come together and attempt to etch their names in the record books. Johnson and Misher will undoubtedly return and play a big role on the 4x1 in 2019.

 

“This year, I’m coming in with a different mindset,” Johnson, a senior to be in 2019, noted. “I’ve looked up to Aleia and Mikiah over these past three years. With them moving on, it’s now on me and Rachel to continue the great leadership we’ve witnessed over the past few years.

 

“I’m looking forward to seeing how the team grows and gets better throughout the season. I’m really excited about the 4x1 and my individual season as well. I know I’m still developing and I have a lot to prove in 2019.”

 

Misher echoed the same sentiment as Johnson while referring to what they’ve learned during their first three seasons in Baton Rouge.

 

“It’s really exciting to be a senior,” Misher said. “It’s our time to be the best we can and be an example for our teammates. It’s my last go around and time to put everything I have on the track, and I will. I’m really looking forward to it and I hope to go out on top.”

 

Looking Back

And just to think, it all started in 2017 with a couple of times that didn’t even crack the 43-second barrier. The greatest 4x100 meter relay in collegiate history found ways to continually take time off their astonishing times, that’s what makes them special. Even as they were competing at the highest of levels, this group found a way to gradually progress and break the collegiate record.

 

“It’s really cool,” Brisco reminisced on having this special group of women together. “To know the caliber of athletes we had on this particular relay is shocking. I’m happy that all four of us could come together and make these times happen. We had three women on this relay that cracked 11 seconds in the open 100 meter dash which is very rare. So, we knew we had the talent and we capitalized on that. It just means a lot to know that we accomplished some very special things this year.

 

“I feel like Coach Shaver does a great job of assembling the relay and then coaching it. He makes it to where we are competing for national titles in the event every single year, so I didn’t expect nothing less out of our team this year. To win two relay titles as a Tiger to contribute to the storied tradition we have here at LSU is something I’ll never forget.”

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