BATON ROUGE — Three more Bernie Moore Track Stadium records fell during Saturday’s finale at the 2011 LSU Tiger Relays as the Tigers and Lady Tigers swept 4×200-meter relay crowns and junior Rachel Laurent captured the women’s pole vault title in record-breaking fashion in their outdoor opener.
On a historic weekend at the newly-renovated Bernie Moore Track Stadium, LSU captured six relay titles and 15 event titles in all on the final day of competition at this year’s edition of the LSU Tiger Relays.
“We had a great meet with this really being our outdoor season opener. This was a great way for us to get on our home track for the first time,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “Our main objective in putting on a meet like this is to get accustomed to running a lot of the different relays to help us prepare for meets like the Texas Relays and Penn Relays. This was a big weekend for us.
“We had a chance to learn how to put down the marks and work on the exchanges in some of these relays we don’t run very often. Our athletes did a great job and were aggressive on their exchanges this week.”
The Tigers set the track on fire with their performance in the 4×200-meter relay with junior Riker Hylton, junior Horatio Williams, junior Keyth Talley and senior Gabriel Mvumvure combining for a winning time of 1 minute, 20.99 seconds. That performance shatters the 25-year-old stadium record of 1:22.28 by more than one full second as the team from TCU set the previous mark back in 1986.
Saturday’s team now owns the second-fastest 4×200-meter relay time in program history, behind the LSU record of 1:20.85 set in 1995 by Eddie Kennison, Milton Mallard, Byron Logan and Rohsaan Griffin.
The Lady Tigers were also impressive in winning the women’s 4×200 relay as sophomore Latoya McDermott, junior Semoy Hackett, junior Jonique Day and sophomore Kimberlyn Duncan teamed to run 1:32.33 to break the previous meet and stadium record of 1:32.68 set in 2009 by the Tiger Olympians.
In the first event on the track during Saturday’s championship finals, both the Tigers (39.43) and the Lady Tigers (44.68) finished off their sweep of 4×100-meter relays crowns for the weekend.
After opening with their fastest season-opening time in school history at 38.87 seconds on Friday evening in the preliminary round, the team of junior Barrett Nugent, Williams, Talley and Mvumvure cruised with a winning time of 39.43 in the final. The Lady Tigers took the women’s title in 44.68 with a relay order of freshman Jasmin Stowers, freshman Jen Clayton, Duncan and senior Kenyanna Wilson.
“We did a pretty good job on our exchanges this weekend. I think that was really important for us today,” Mvumvure said. “I think we could have actually run faster in the 4×200. It was tough for us on the second and anchor legs running into that strong of a headwind. Still, I haven’t run on a relay that fast.”
Laurent had anticipated her outdoor opener since March 4 when she saw her indoor season come up short of an NCAA Championships appearance at the LSU Twilight at the Carl Maddox Field House.
And Laurent made the most of her opportunity on Saturday as she breezed through the competition with a first-attempt clearance at 13 feet, ¼ inch, 13-4 ¼ and 13-8 ¼ to take the lead. After clearing the bar at 13-11 ¼ on her third attempt, she then sailed over the bar at 14-2 ½ to break her own outdoor personal record and LSU outdoor school record of 14-1 ¼ set during her freshman season in 2009.
Not only that, but Laurent broke the previous meet record of 13-5 ¼ set by Carrie Kayes of Akron back in 2009 and the previous stadium record of 14-2 set by Dana Ellis-Buller of Asics back in 2008.
“I was hungry. This wasn’t unexpected,” Laurent said. “The indoor season didn’t end the way I wanted to end it. The last few weeks in practice have been like that, and it feels great to go out in a meet and make it count. The wind was very helpful today. When it’s blowing like that, it helps push me down the runway.”
Stowers’ performance in the 100-meter hurdles highlighted eight other individual event championships in Saturday’s competition. She set a new wind-legal personal best and LSU Tiger Relays meet record with a time of 13.15 in the final to take an early NCAA lead in the event for the 2011 outdoor season. Senior star Tenaya Jones followed in second place at 13.28 in her first hurdle final of the campaign.
Also winning individual event championships on Saturday afternoon were senior Marcus McGehee in the men’s pole vault (17-4 ½), senior Melissa Ogbourne in the women’s triple jump (42-9 ¾w), junior Barrett Nugent in the 110 hurdles (13.61w), junior Cassandra Tate in the 400-meter hurdles (57.84) and freshmen Rynell Parson (10.24w) and Toshika Sylvester (11.29w) in the 100-meter dash.
In addition, freshman distance runner Alden Heaphy won the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase in his debut in the event while running a 2011 season-opening time of 9:49.67.
While the Tigers and Lady Tigers opened the competition with a sweep of 4×100-meter relay crowns, the teams also wrapped up the meet with dominating wins in both the men’s and women’s 4×400-meter relay in their first appearance of the outdoor season in the final event of the afternoon.
After the Lady Tigers took the women’s title with a time of 3:35.90, the Tigers stepped on the track in the final race of the competition and responded with what is sure to be one of the NCAA’s leading efforts this season with a season-opening and meet-record time of 3:03.77.
Junior Robert Simmons led off the men’s relay with a 46.67-second split before handing off to junior Ade Alleyne-Forte on the second leg. Alleyne-Forte ripped off a 45.63-second split in his first action of the 2011 season before giving way to junior Riker Hylton on the third leg. After splitting 45.33 with the third leg, Hylton handed off to a 46.14-second split by sophomore Caleb Williams on the anchor for the team’s 3:03.77. The Tigers recorded a 2011 indoor best of 3:05.61 at the SEC Championships.
“This is a great start for us,” Shaver said. “I’m proud of our teams and the way we competed this weekend as a group. We’re very much looking forward to another great competition next Saturday.”
The Tigers and Lady Tigers return to action next weekend at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium as they are set to host five other programs in a scored competition at the LSU Invitational on April 2. LSU will host a field that includes the likes of Texas A&M, Illinois, Iowa, Connecticut and Army.