BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Sophomore Morgan Schuetz turned in an NCAA-leading time in winning the women’s 800-meter crown to headline Saturday’s action at the Birmingham Crossplex as the Tigers and Lady Tigers scored eight event titles and set nine indoor personal bests at the Auburn Indoor Invitational to continue their hot start to the 2015 season.

Schuetz was joined on the top spot of the medal podium by a pair of Lady Tiger teammates in senior Tori Bliss (shot put) and freshman Mikiah Brisco (60 meters) as reigning SEC Athletes of the Week this week. Senior Joshua Thompson (60 hurdles) and sophomore Blair Henderson (800 meters) added victories for the Tigers on the afternoon.

The Tigers and Lady Tigers also took home three of the four relay titles to wrap up Saturday’s meet with a win in the women’s distance medley relay and a sweep of men’s and women’s 4×400-meter relays.

“I was really pleased with the competitive spirit showed by both of our teams today,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver following the competition. “It’s important that we take advantage of every opportunity we get to prepare ourselves for what is to come this season. I think we took a big step forward as a team today, and we’ll need to step it up again with each week that passes.”

Just one week after opening the campaign by running a national-leading and personal-best time of 4 minutes, 43.65 seconds in a runner-up finish in the mile at the LSU Indoor Invitational, Schuetz emerged as an early-season candidate to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships with yet another personal-best performance in winning the women’s 800-meter title at the Birmingham Crossplex.

Schuetz stepped onto the track for the first of three sections and turned in a lifetime best of 2:06.32 to outlast Florida State’s Chelsea Jarvis (2:07.10) to the finish line by nearly one full second for her first collegiate win in the 800 meters. It also proved to be the NCAA’s leading performance among reported times entering the weekend.

Schuetz has fired out of the blocks to open her sophomore season while slashing nearly two full second off of her previous indoor personal best of 2:08.89 and nearly one second off of her previous lifetime best run of 2:07.02 set in a sixth-place finish in her debut at the SEC Outdoor Championships a season ago.

An SEC finalist as a redshirt freshman in 2014, Schuetz has certainly positioned herself to qualify for the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships for the first time with her early-season performance.

Schuetz actually helped the Lady Tigers turn in two NCAA-leading performances on the night as she later returned to the track to run a 4:52.50 mile on the anchor leg of LSU’s distance medley relay team that cruised to victory with the ninth-fastest time in school history at 11:35.51. The Lady Tigers dominated the DMR as Alabama finished more than 30 seconds behind in second place at 12:07.23.

Schuetz anchored a winning team that also featured junior Andria Aguilar (1,200 meters), freshman Keterra Harris (400 meters) and sophomore Chaiss Matthews (800 meters) in the distance medley relay.

The Baton Rouge native and Parkview Baptist High School product led an LSU sweep of 800-meter titles at this year’s Auburn Indoor Invitational as Henderson won the men’s title with a season-opening race of 1:52.52. Like Schuetz, Henderson was nearly one second faster than his nearest competitor as Georgia Tech’s Brandon Lasater (1:53.49) finished runner-up in the men’s final.

Not only did Aguilar run on the ninth-fastest distance medley relay team in school history, but she also became the No. 9-ranked miler in school history during Saturday’s action as she scored the silver medal as runner-up with a personal-best time of 4:49.86. She trailed only Florida State’s Colleen Quigley (4:44.29) across the finish line while smashing her previous PR of 4:56.83 in the event set in the same meet a season ago.

Harris was a third member of LSU’s winning distance medley relay to set an individual personal best during the meet as she clocked a career-best indoor time of 56.56 for sixth place in the women’s 400 meters.

Also continuing their quick start to the 2015 campaign were LSU’s reigning SEC Athletes of the Week with Bliss winning the women’s shot put crown and Brisco sprinting to the women’s 60-meter title on Saturday.

Not only did Bliss enter Saturday’s competition as the reigning SEC Women’s Field Athlete of the Week for her NCAA-leading and school-record-setting shot put victory at the LSU Indoor Invitational, but also the NCAA Division I Women’s National Athlete of the Week by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association following her season opener.

After throwing an indoor school record of 57 feet, 2 ¾ inches last weekend, Bliss brought that momentum with her to the Birmingham Crossplex as she won her second-straight shot put crown to open the season with a winning mark of 56-4 ½ on her second throw to finish more than three feet clear of Tennessee’s Cassie Wertman (53-0) in second place in Saturday’s final.

Bliss unleashed another impressive series that included throws of 52-11 in the first round, 55-8 ¼ in the fifth round and 53-3 in the final round along with her winning throw of 56-4 ½ in the second round.

Brisco nearly set a personal best in winning the 60-meter hurdles with a season-opening run of 8.46 in her collegiate debut at the LSU Indoor Invitational a week ago. The SEC Women’s Freshman of the Week was close once again to setting a personal best at the Auburn Indoor Invitational while claiming her first collegiate title in the 60-meter dash.

Brisco emerged as the favorite to take the title after qualifying in 7.43 for the fastest time of the preliminary round. She returned to the track in the afternoon session and blistered the straight with a seasonal-best run of 7.30 for the victory while turning in the NCAA’s No. 3-ranked time early in the season. It proved to be a 1-2 finish for the Lady Tigers as fellow freshman Aleia Hobbs clocked back-to-back personal bests of 7.47 during the preliminary round and 7.34 in the final to emerge as the NCAA’s No. 6-ranked sprinter in 2015.

Hobbs kicked off her collegiate career by matching her previous PR of 7.49 in the event entering the season in a runner-up finish to teammate Jada Martin in her debut at the LSU Indoor Invitational last weekend.

Also crowned an event champion with a seasonal-best performance was Tiger senior Joshua Thompson, who took the tape in the men’s 60-meter hurdles final by the narrowest of margins with a time of 7.90 to secure his second win in as many meets to open the season. Thompson edged Ohio State’s Donovan Robertson (7.90) by six one-thousandths of a second at the finish line for the victory.

Other Tigers and Lady Tigers setting indoor personal records during the meet were junior Shanice Holmes in both the long jump (16-9 ¾) and triple jump (38-9 ½), sophomore Tremayne Acy (6.71) in the 60-meter dash, sophomore Rushell Harvey (24.39) in the 200-meter dash and freshman Joseph St. Cyr (8:28.76) in the 3,000-meter run. Cracking the school’s all-time Top 10 performance list for the second week running was freshman Gabby Figueroa, who raised her seasonal-best mark to 59-3 ½ in a runner-up finish in the women’s weight throw for the No. 7-ranked mark in school history.

The meet came to a fitting end with the Tigers and Lady Tigers sweeping 4×400-meter relay titles as the men followed the women’s winning run of 3:43.41 with an NCAA-leading time of 3:07.65 to cap the night.

The Lady Tigers were crowned women’s relay champions in 3:43.41 with a team of freshman Daeshon Gordon (57.12), sophomore Jada Martin (54.06), junior Kiersten Duncan (56.45) and junior Chanice Chase (55.78) in finishing ahead of Ohio State (3:45.76).

The Tigers, defending NCAA Indoor Champions in the event, then emerged as the early-season NCAA leaders with their winning time of 3:07.65 as the foursome of junior Cyril Grayson (46.51), senior Vernon Norwood (46.13), senior Quincy Downing (47.59) and junior Darrell Bush (47.42) beat the runners-up from Georgia in 3:11.95.

“We’re off to a pretty good start to the season,” Shaver said. “I really believe last week gave us a great platform to come here to Birmingham and get a few things done and take another big step forward as a team. I’m looking forward to another great week of preparation and the opportunity for our teams to go out and compete again when we next head to Kentucky for what will be a great meet next weekend.”

After returning home from the Auburn Indoor Invitational, the Tigers and Lady Tigers will head back on the road next weekend as they make their first of two trips to the Nutter Field House in Lexington, Kentucky, this season when they compete at the Rod McCravy Memorial Meet running Jan. 23-24. The Nutter Field House will also serve as the host site for the SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships from Feb. 27-28.


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