JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The rosters are set for the semifinals of the 2015 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships as the Tigers and Lady Tigers added 12 more qualifiers to their squads making the trip to Eugene, Oregon, in two weeks during Saturday’s finale at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds held this weekend at North Florida’s Hodges Stadium.
LSU Track & Field emerged from the preliminary rounds with 25 NCAA semifinalists over three days of competition, including 11 qualifiers for the Tigers and 14 qualifiers for the Lady Tigers in Jacksonville.
They have now earned the right to represent the program in the semifinal and final rounds of the 2015 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships that will be held June 10-13 at Oregon’s Hayward Field.
Among the Tigers adding their names to LSU’s final list of semifinalists on Saturday evening were senior Aaron Ernest and sophomore Tremayne Acy in the 200 meters, senior Joshua Thompson and sophomore Jordan Moore in the 110-meter hurdles and both their title-contending 4×100-meter and 4×400-meter relays.
The Lady Tigers also bolstered their roster heading to Eugene for the NCAA semifinals in two weeks with both junior Chanice Chase and freshman Daeshon Gordon in the 100-meter hurdles, sophomore Nataliyah Friar in the triple jump, sophomore Jada Martin in the 200 meters and both their 4×100-meter and 4×400-meter relays.
“That’s job done really for both of our teams here this weekend,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver following the final relay events of the day. “We’ll be taking two very strong teams to Eugene, so the next couple of weeks will be big for us in terms of our preparation for the semifinals and finals at these NCAA Championships. We’re looking forward to a great finish to the season.”
The Lady Tigers were the first to step onto the track in Saturday’s finale as Martin put her mark down as the third leg while teaming with sophomore Rushell Harvey on the first leg, freshman Aleia Hobbs on the second leg and freshman Mikiah Brisco on the anchor leg in their heat-winning performance in the women’s 4×100-meter relay.
They cruised into the national semifinals with the second-fastest time of the day at 43.14 seconds to take the tape in the third quarterfinal heat ahead of Ole Miss (43.89) and Ohio State (43.99). Only Florida’s 42.93 in a winning run in the first heat beat the Lady Tigers in Saturday’s sprint relay quarterfinal. They were also trailed in the race by Kentucky (43.43), Clemson (43.75), Purdue (43.97), Michigan State (44.28), Western Kentucky (44.33), Jacksonville (44.34), Alabama (44.35) and Central Florida (44.41) as the qualifying teams from the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds.
Martin later returned to the track and qualified in the women’s 200-meter dash as she sprinted to a wind-legal personal best of 22.94 (+1.5) for third place in the first heat and seventh place overall in the field.
The Lady Tigers were strong in both relays on the final day of the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds as they ended the meet by dropping their seasonal best in the 4×400-meter relay by more than two seconds with a time of 3 minutes, 30.74 seconds for the sixth-best time of the weekend. They qualified for the meet with a previous seasonal best of 3:32.97 set at Arizona’s Jim Click Shootout during the regular season.
Running with a team of Gordon, Martin, junior Travia Jones and Chase, they trailed only Florida (3:29.80) across the finish line in the second quarterfinal heat to join Ohio State (3:28.37), Clemson (3:28.59), Florida State (3:29.85), Miami (3:30.22), Kentucky (3:30.81), Notre Dame (3:31.44), Purdue (3:31.70), Cornell (3:31.77), Alabama State (3:31.97) and Mississippi State (3:32.13) in the semifinal round.
Before running in the 4×400-meter relay, Chase and Gordon both earned their place in the NCAA semifinals of the women’s 100-meter hurdles just one day after qualifying in the 400-meter hurdles.
Gordon clocked a wind-legal PR for the second-straight day as she followed her 13.15 (+1.0) in Friday’s first round with a time of 13.10 (+0.6) in Saturday’s quarterfinals to place third in the first heat and in sixth place on the day among all competitors. Chase also took third place in her quarterfinal heat as her time of 13.21 (-0.2) was the 11th-fastest time of the afternoon.
The Tigers matched their female counterparts with the second-fastest qualifying performance in the men’s 4×100-meter relay as Thompson (first leg), Acy (third leg) and Ernest (anchor leg) joined with Friday’s fastest 400-meter qualifier Vernon Norwood in running 39.25 for victory in the third heat. They beat the likes of South Carolina (39.60) and North Carolina A&T (39.90) to the finish line in their heat.
The Tigers followed only the winning time of 39.23 by the Florida Gators from the first heat in the event standings with the second-fastest time of the day in the men’s 4×100-meter relay. They joined other semifinalist from LIU-Brooklyn (39.40), Alabama (39.47), Florida State (39.55), Western Kentucky (39.60), Ole Miss (39.65), Auburn (39.66), Louisiana-Lafayette (39.89) and Akron (39.95).
Like Martin, both Acy and Ernest continued their momentum after qualifying in the sprint relay and lit up the Hodges Stadium track with seasonal-best times in the quarterfinal round of the men’s 200-meter dash.
Acy was the first to toe the line in the first quarterfinal heat as he powered to the finish line with a career-best wind-legal time of 20.25 (+1.4) to finish runner-up to Florida’s Dedric Dukes (20.14) in the event with what was the fourth-fastest time among all semifinal qualifiers in Jacksonville. It was a performance that smashed his previous wind-legal personal best of 20.52 set in an All-SEC third-place finish at the SEC Championships at Mississippi State’s Mike Sanders Track Complex and tied him for No. 5 in school history in the event.
“I’m just excited to run in these kind of meets because I didn’t get the opportunity to last year,” Acy said after running his personal best. “All I got to run here last year was the four-by-one, so to be able to be here and be healthy and come back and run the 100 and 200 and qualify, it’s a big accomplishment. I feel really good about my 200. My previous PR was 20.5, so that’s a big one for me.”
Ernest set a seasonal best of his own when he took the tape in the third and final quarterfinal heat of the day with a blistering time of 20.22 (+1.3) to emerge as the third-fastest qualifier at the NCAA East Prelim. Ernest was just a split second shy of eclipsing his career-best time of 20.14 that he set during his junior season with the Tigers a year ago.
Acy and Ernest are now set to join Norwood in leading the Tigers’ sprint squad into the national semifinals in Eugene as they will double in both the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes after qualifying in Jacksonville.
Thompson was among two Tigers punching their ticket to the national semifinals in the men’s 110-meter hurdles on Saturday night as he will be joined on the plane to Eugene by Moore. They posted two of the fastest qualifying performances of the day despite running into headwinds as Moore won the first heat in 13.81 (-0.5) and Thompson finished runner-up in the third heat in 13.74 (-1.4).
The Tigers were also impressive in their final race of the weekend as they posted the leading qualifying time in the field in the men’s 4×400-meter relay as Norwood anchored the team that also featured senior Quincy Downing, junior Cyril Grayson and junior Fitzroy Dunkley to a heat-winning time of 3:02.48 ahead of Ohio State’s 3:02.67 in the second quarterfinal race.
LSU and Ohio State proved to be the two fastest teams for all as they were followed into the semifinal round by Florida (3:03.69), Mississippi State (3:04.45), LIU-Brooklyn (3:04.58), Alabama (3:04.81), Georgia (3:05.12), South Carolina (3:05.65), Notre Dame (3:05.70), North Carolina (3:06.26), Kent State (3:06.45) and Clemson (3:06.61).
After missing a spot in the national semifinals of the women’s long jump by a single spot with a 13th-place finish on Friday night, Friar bounced back in a big way in Saturday’s finale as she entered the Top 12 of the triple jump with a series-best mark of 41-11 ½ (+0.0) to finish in 10th place overall and officially punch her ticket to Eugene for the first time this weekend.
Friar is seeking All-America honors in the event after entering the weekend as the No. 7-ranked triple jumper nationally with a wind-legal personal best of 43-10 to her credit at the SEC Championships.
“I’m proud of our athletes in the way they approached this weekend and expect they will carry that into the semifinal and final rounds when we compete again in Eugene,” Shaver said. “We have two important weeks coming up as we get back to Baton Rouge and start preparing again for the fourth and fifth days of these NCAA Championships. We look forward to the challenge that awaits us at Oregon.”
In Saturday’s other field-event action, Tiger sophomore Jonathan Pitt jumped a wind-legal personal best of 50-8 ¼ (+0.9) on his second attempt to earn a 16th-place finish overall and just miss a Top 12 qualifying place in the men’s triple jump. Lady Tiger junior Shanice Hall also cleared the bar at 5-7 to tie for 33rd place overall in the women’s high jump.
LSU’s Qualifiers for the NCAA Championships Semifinals in Eugene, Oregon
Note: All times and marks were achieved this weekend at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds
Name, Event, Time/Mark (Place)
Tremayne Acy, 100 Meters, 10.18 (3)
Tremayne Acy, 200 Meters, 20.25 (4)
Rodney Brown, Discus, 201-2 (2)
Quincy Downing, 400 Hurdles, 49.89 (1)
Aaron Ernest, 100 Meters, 10.21 (4)
Aaron Ernest, 200 Meters, 20.22 (3)
Jordan Moore, 110 Hurdles, 13.81 (9)
Vernon Norwood, 400 Meters, 44.94 (1)
Joshua Thompson, 110 Hurdles, 13.74 (5)
Thompson, Norwood, Acy, Ernest; 4×100 Relay; 39.25 (2)
Downing, Grayson, Dunkley, Norwood; 4×400 Relay; 3:02.48 (XX)
Name, Event, Time/Mark (Place)
Tori Bliss, Shot Put, 57-9 ¾ (1)
Mikiah Brisco, 100 Meters, 11.45 (5)
Chanice Chase, 100 Hurdles, 13.21 (11)
Chanice Chase, 400 Hurdles, 57.51 (10)
Nataliyah Friar, Triple Jump, 41-11 ½ (10)
Daeshon Gordon, 100 Hurdles, 13.10 (6)
Daeshon Gordon, 400 Hurdles, 57.52 (11)
Aleia Hobbs, 100 Meters, 11.41 (3)
Jada Martin, 200 Meters, 22.94 (7)
Morgan Schuetz, 800 Meters, 2:03.93 (7)
Annie Simoneaux, Javelin, 165-6 (5)
Rebekah Wales, Javelin, 179-11 (2)
Harvey, Hobbs, Martin, Brisco; 4×100 Relay; 43.14 (2)
Gordon, Martin, Jones, Chase; 4×400 Relay; 3:30.74 (6)