LSU sends five qualifiers to NCAA semifinals, 12 to quarterfinals
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- LSU enjoyed an outstanding day of qualifying in Thursday’s opener at the 2013 NCAA East Preliminary Rounds as five Tigers and Lady Tigers earned their spot in the NCAA semifinals with their effort in field-event action held at Irwin Belk Track on the campus of North Carolina A&T.
An additional 12 athletes advanced to national quarterfinals to be run on the track on Friday as the 100-meter dash, 400-meter dash, 800-meter run and 400-meter hurdles on Day 2 in Greensboro.
Seniors Damar Forbes and Brittany Porter each earned their spot in the national semifinals for the men’s and women’s long jump, while seniors Joseph Caraway and Thomas Reinecke advanced in the men’s pole vault and sophomore Rodney Brown punched his ticket to Eugene, Ore., in the men’s discus throw.
“This meet is all about doing what you need to do to make it to the next round. I thought both our teams did a great job of that,” LSU head coach Dennis Shaver said. “We got off to a fast start with Rodney [Brown] and Damar [Forbes] making it through in some early field events, and really just continued that throughout the afternoon and into the evening with the events we had on the track.”
Brown got the ball rolling for the Tigers with a runner-up finish in the men’s discus in the first event of the meet as he is set to make his first career semifinals appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Brown took an early lead in the competition by throwing a series-best of 192 feet, 5 inches on his second attempt of the third flight to lock up a coveted top-12 spot for qualification in the NCAA semifinals. He dropped back into second place overall when Rutgers standout James Plummer posted a leading mark of 201-0 in the third round for the top throw of the day.
Brown is poised to become the fifth LSU Tiger in program history to earn All-America honors in the men’s discus throw and the first in 15 seasons since Alex Forst during the 1998 season. He ranks No. 3 in the NCAA rankings this season with his personal best of 206-3 set in a runner-up finish at the Texas Relays on March 30.
Forbes joined Brown in the national semifinals as he followed his teammate with a fourth-place finish in the men’s long jump after posting a top wind-aided mark of 25-0 ½ on his opening jump.
Like Brown, Forbes took the early lead with his opening jump of 25-0 ½ and held strong in third place heading into the finals after he was overtaken by Virginia Tech’s Jeff Artis-Gray with a wind-aided 25-8 ¼. While passing his final three jumps, Forbes dropped into fourth place after East Tennessee State’s Tyler Stepp jumped 25-6 ¾ on his final attempt.
Forbes, the reigning SEC outdoor champion, has his eye on a first career national championship as the NCAA’s No. 1-ranked long jumper for 2013 after taking the conference crown with a career-best wind-aided effort of 27-4 ½ in the SEC final. Forbes has won the NCAA silver medal in the event in each of the last four NCAA championships between the indoor and outdoor seasons.
Porter will join Forbes in the long jump field in Eugene as she secured her spot in the national semifinals with an eighth-place finish in women’s qualifying on Thursday.
Porter, who was the No. 28-ranked long jumper on the women’s side entering the meet, won the second flight and advanced to the final in sixth place overall with a wind-aided mark of 20-1 on her second attempt for the preliminary round.
Two Tiger seniors are also set to make their first semifinals appearance in the men’s pole vault as Caraway and Reinecke were among 12 vaulters in the field clearing the bar at 17-2 ¾. Reinecke took just one attempt to clear 17-2 ¾ and tie for fifth place, while Caraway went up and over the bar on his second attempt to punch their ticket to Eugene.
“We had a number of athletes step it up to put our teams in a good position as we continue here this weekend,” Shaver said. “Getting five through to the semifinals in the field events is big for our team once we go to Eugene, and of course, we advanced well on the track [on Thursday]. That will give us a great opportunity to add to our numbers when we come back [Friday].”
Thursday’s opening day of competition at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds also featured eight Lady Tigers and four Tigers advancing to the quarterfinal rounds of their respective events to run on Friday afternoon.
Juniors Nikita Tracey and Shana-Gaye Tracey and sophomore Chanice Chase each advanced to Friday’s quarterfinal in the women’s 400-meter hurdles with their performance in Thursday’s opener on the track.
Nikita Tracey led the way as the third-fastest heat winner of the day with a strong run of 57.73 seconds to advance to her first NCAA quarterfinal. Chase claimed automatic qualification as the third-fastest finisher in the third heat with a time of 58.97 and Shana-Gaye Tracey advanced on time after running 58.82 for fourth place in the fifth preliminary heat.
Senior Charlene Lipsey and junior Natoya Goule then wrapped up Thursday’s qualifying action by running the two fastest times in the women’s 800 meters to win their first-round heats. Lipsey lined up in the first heat and posted the top time of the day at 2 minutes, 4.25 seconds, while Goule followed by winning the fourth heat in 2:04.50 for the second-fastest time of the opening round.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers will return to Irwin Belk Track for Friday’s second day of competition at the 2013 NCAA East Preliminary Rounds.