Day 3 surge boosts LSU to title
Tate's 400-meter win helps Tigers secure championship
Officially, it will be recorded that LSU won the DI Women's Track and Field Championship on the final day. For those associated with the program, they will point to what happened on Day 3 as making their 2012 title possible.
It was then when Cassandra Tate capped off a very productive day with a wholly unexpected win in the 400 meters which helped the Lady Tigers pile up points they didn’t think they’d get and jump start their “this could be our year” feeling despite being locked in a two-team dual with Oregon.
“When we started that run on Friday, we had five scoring opportunities and came out of there with 40 points -- which was a few more points than we anticipated,” said Dennis Shaver, LSU’s head coach. “And you know, right after [Tate’s title] happened, I think the uplift and the energy that the other women that were warming up at that time in the Knapp Center watching the video board they really got excited, more excited that usual I guess. Then we did well in the 800 and the 100 and the open 400 meters and it was simply a great day.
|DI WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP|
|Results: Men | Women|
|Recaps: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4|
|Turner: Injuries wouldn't stop Oregon sprinter|
|Hendrickson: Gipson’s path to greatness|
|Turner: Feldman captures crucial win|
|Schedule of Events|
“It was certainly exciting. And once you got that energy flowing, that positive energy, we didn’t really have to face much adversity at the meet because things went as well or better -- at least on paper going into the meet -- that you felt like it was going to go. Our athletes just did a tremendous job of supporting one another and making that commitment to winning a national team title.”
The championship was the LSU women's 32nd title overall all-time. It was their 15th NCAA outdoor title and first since 2008.
Texas A&M, the defending champion lost a lot from last year’s team and was not a huge factor finishing third with 38 points. But Oregon was and as the day’s activities began on the final day it was the Ducks tied with LSU in first place.
If Shavers and his athletes were given to looking over their shoulders, taking an occasional peak at what Oregon was doing would have made for a taxing day. But that hasn’t been what LSU has been about all season. If it took care of its events on Saturday, everything else would take are of itself.
“We really are focused simply on the task at hand and the challenge at hand for ourselves,” Shaver said. “Our athletes and, of course, our coaching staff and support staff that’s the approach we’ve always taken, and the approach we will always continue to take. We can only control what we’re doing. As long as we’re doing everything we can do, and then at the end of the track meet, if we’re first, or if we’re second, we’re still going to be extremely proud and happy with what our athletes accomplished at the meet.”
“As the day unfolded, I think our athletes were aware that the 1,500 meters probably didn’t go as well for Oregon as they’d hoped [6 points]. And then you turn around and basically looking at the 5,000 meters [Oregon finished eighth] before the 4x400 [relay], but by that time, I think we’d sewn up the meet before the 5K took place.”
That they did. Kimberlyn Duncan, who defended her title and Semoy Hackett [fifth place], locked the title up with their efforts in the 200-meter dash. It was a very economical second day with it earning 36 points in five events to 22 points in seven events for Oregon to take the team title, 76-62.
With such a huge lead going into the final event, LSU could have easily eased up and coasted to the end. As inconsequential as it was, LSU, also winners of this year’s SEC outdoor championship, left the Drake Stadium crowd with something to remember.
Both LSU (3:24.54) and Oregon (3:24.59) set meet records for the NCAA Championships in a historic race to the finish line. The previous record was 3:25.26 set by LSU in 2004.
“When you line up at the end of the meet, and you’ve basically already won the track meet, and watch our women compete for the 4x400 title as they did, was really amazing, too.
"We ran underneath the meet record significantly -- by almost a second. And got beaten by Oregon, that goes to show you how competitive the group is because they really didn’t have to line up. But to run that hard and compete that well all the way to the end, I was extremely impressed.
“It wasn’t a meet where anything was given to us. Our athletes certainly earned everything. I thought Oregon athletes competed extremely well also. It wasn’t until we got into the finals on Saturday that we really started -- as the day progressed -- separating ourselves from them and making it very, very difficult for them to be able to win the championship.”