LSU wins Tyson title
Tigers end strong with nation’s best 4x400 relay time in finale
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- No. 2-ranked LSU went out with a bang in Saturday's finale of the 2012 Tyson Invitational by dominating the invitational 4x400-meter relay with the NCAA-leading time of 3 minutes, 31.55 seconds to take the title at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
The Lady Tigers eclipsed the NCAA qualifying standard of 3:34.00 in the mile relay for the first time this season to highlight the USA Track & Field Classic portion of the meet on Saturday night.
The Lady Tigers captured three event championships on the final day of the 2012 Tyson Invitational after junior Kimberlyn Duncan won the 200 meters and sophomore Denise Hinton won the weight throw.
Tiger senior Barrett Nugent also added his name to LSU's NCAA Championships roster Saturday night in his third-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles as he clocked a seasonal-best 7.70 seconds in the event.
"In as many years as we've come to the Tyson Invitational, I don't recall another time where we have had as good of a meet with both of our teams over the two days of competition," said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. "We did nothing but give ourselves a better opportunity to compete at the NCAA meet with some of the performances turned in by both of our teams this weekend."
The Lady Tigers lined up in Saturday's invitational 4x400-meter relay as the nation's No. 4-ranked squad with a seasonal best of 3:35.41 on the same track at the Razorback Invitational two weeks ago. They lined up alongside the likes of NCAA title contenders Texas and Arkansas in a battle for the event crown.
Senior Rebecca Alexander beat the field to the break on the first leg and never looked back as the women led wire-to-wire while crossing the finish line with an NCAA-leading time of 3:31.55 to take the title against Texas (3:32.63) and Arkansas (3:32.75). Penn State followed in fourth place at 3:41.02.
After Alexander led off with a 53.50-second split on the leadoff leg, senior Cassandra Tate (52.21), junior Siedda Herbert (53.42) and senior Jonique Day (52.43) brought the baton home for the win.
The Tigers followed by setting a 2012 seasonal best of their own in the men's 4x400-meter relay as senior Robert Simmons (47.07), senior Riker Hylton (45.51), senior Ade Alleyne-Forte (46.86) and junior Caleb Williams (45.98) crossed the finish line with the No. 2-ranked time in the NCAA for the 2012 indoor year and the No. 8-ranked time indoors in school history at 3:05.41.
Arkansas captured the men's 4x400-meter relay championship in 3:03.76, while the junior college tandem from South Plains College followed in second place with a time of 3:05.16.
Nugent was also impressive with his performance in the championship final of the 60-meter hurdles at the USATF Indoor Classic as he clocked a seasonal best of 7.70 to take third place and punch his ticket to the NCAA Indoor Championships. Defending NCAA Indoor champion Andrew Riley of Illinois captured the hurdle title in 7.53, while Clemson standout Spencer Adams followed in second place in 7.66.
"Our kids really stepped it up and competed well more than anything tonight," Shaver said. "I think times we saw were just a product of that. They were able to go out there and lay it on the line, and compete with many of the same teams we're going to see a few weeks from now at the NCAA Championships."
No sprinter has dominated the women's 200-meter dash in recent memory quite like Duncan, as the junior from Katy, Texas, earned her 12th consecutive collegiate victory in the event at the Tyson Invitational to begin Saturday's championship action on the track at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
While running in the first of 16 heats of the women's 200-meter dash, Duncan sprinted to the finish line at 23.23 to take the title over Allison Peter of Texas (23.29) and Kai Selvon of Auburn (23.52). She captured her 12th-straight victory in the event over collegiate competition to continue a streak that began last season with her first career win at the Tyson Invitational in 2011.
After running 23.23 to take the Tyson Invitational title on Saturday afternoon, Duncan has now set five of the seven fastest 200-meter times in the world for the 2012 indoor season.
Duncan's seasonal-best effort of 23.22 in her victory at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational last week ranks No. 1 in the NCAA and No. 2 worldwide behind only the 23.18 recorded by international sprint star Sanya Richards-Ross on Jan. 27 at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
She has also recorded times of 23.25 in the final at the Razorback Invitational on Jan. 27, 23.29 in her win at the Texas A&M Dual Meet on Jan. 21 and 23.34 in the qualifying round at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational on Feb. 4 that also rank among the world's seven fastest times for the 2012 season.
While Duncan captured the women's 200-meter title during Saturday's action, five Lady Tigers recorded seasonal bests, including indoor personal records in heat wins by juniors Takeia Pinckney (24.11) in the ninth section and Latoya McDermott (24.41) in the 14th section. Sophomore Toshika Sylvester added a win in the 13th section with a seasonal-best time of 24.16, while junior Siedda Herbert matched her indoor PR at 24.47 and freshman Montenae Roye-Speight set an indoor PR of 25.23 in the heats.
Freshman Aaron Ernest was LSU's top performer in the men's 200-meter dash as he clocked 21.54 to win the sixth section with the 14th-fastest time of the afternoon.
Saturday also witnessed a pair of LSU triple jumpers crack the NCAA's top 10 for 2012, as senior Kyron Blaise and sophomore Lynnika Pitts took a big step toward qualifying for the NCAA Championships with their runner-up finishes on Saturday afternoon at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
Blaise actually took the lead in the men's triple jump with his seasonal-best jump of 52 feet, 7 ¼ inches in the fifth round to move ahead of Virginia's Marcus Robinson. While Blaise was unable to extend his lead in the sixth round of jumps with a mark of 52-5 ½, he wrapped up the event as the No. 6-ranked jumper in the NCAA this season as he eyes a return to the NCAA Championships.
Robinson responded with a winning leap of 54-6 ¾ on his sixth and final attempt to capture the event title against Blaise with an NCAA-leading performance for 2012.
Pitts followed with a runner-up finish of her own in the championship division in the women's triple jump as she shattered her lifetime PR in the event with a mark of 42-2 ¾ in the final round of jumps.
After entering the meet with a previous PR of 41-10 ¾ set two weeks ago at the Razorback Invitational on Jan. 28, Pitts eclipsed the 42-foot mark on each of her final two jumps during Saturday's competition. She moved into second place with her mark of 42-0 ¾ in the fifth round before establishing her lifetime PR of 42-2 ¾ in the sixth and final round of jumps for the No. 8-ranked mark in the NCAA this season.
Pitts wrapped up the event as the top collegiate performer as former Florida State national champion triple jumper Kimberly Williams soared 46-10 ¼ in the second round for her only fair mark of the afternoon.
In addition, sophomore Denise Hinton continued her assault on the school record books as she took down her own indoor mark in the women's weight throw for the third consecutive week after unleashing a clinching throw of 66-11 ¼ on her sixth and final attempt of the competition to pull out the victory.
Hinton actually trailed Purdue's Dani Bunch (63-6 ¾) heading into the weight throw finals before staking her claim on the lead with a mark of 63-11 on her fifth attempt. She then put the event well out of reach in the final round with her winning mark of 66-11 ¼ that solidified her hold on the No. 15 spot in the NCAA rankings for the 2012 indoor season while extending her own school record.
Hinton has now set a personal best in the weight throw in each of LSU's five meets in 2012, including her previous PR of 66-7 set in a third-place finish at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational a week ago.
Lady Tiger sophomore Karen Henning also enjoyed a personal-best performance in the weight throw with her mark of 59-2 ¾ that earned a fifth-place finish in the competition. She also moved up two spots on the school's all-time indoor performance list into the No. 6 spot in school history.
In the Olympic Development men's pole vault held during the USATF Indoor Classic portion of the meet, senior Marcus McGehee cleared a seasonal best 17-1 to take third place in the event.
In the final of the women's 60-meter hurdles, Lady Tiger sophomore Jasmin Stowers earned second place with a time of 8.13, while junior Shanekia Hall followed in fifth place with a time of 8.34.
"Our teams really showed some depth this weekend," Shaver said. "I'm proud of the way we competed in all of the event areas to give ourselves an opportunity to compete in the championship meets. This is only another step for us in that direction as we look to peak at the right time."