April 25, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - Senior Jeremy Hicks had motivation on his side when he stepped back onto the long jump runway for one last attempt during Friday's competition in his final appearance in an LSU uniform at the prestigious Penn Relays at historic Franklin Field.


After leading the competition through the first five rounds with a top mark of 25 feet, 3 ¼ inches, Hicks was passed by NCAA Indoor champion Nicholas Gordon of Nebraska in the sixth round of jumps as the Husker star leaped into the lead with an apparent winning jump of 25-6.


It was a scene that Hicks knew all too well after losing the NCAA Indoor crown to Gordon in the last series of jumps at the NCAA Indoor Championships back on March 13.


Hicks had NCAA glory within his grasp, leading the way with a mark of 26-3 ½ and one series of jumps to survive before taking the title himself in the most important meet of his collegiate career at LSU. But Gordon snatched the national crown for himself with a winning mark of 26-4 ¼ in an exciting final round, while Hicks came up short on his last attempt to remain in second place.


Perhaps it was that experience of finishing NCAA Indoor runner-up that fueled Hicks' motivation and visions of victory in his mind as he raced down the runway one last time on Friday afternoon.


Hicks hit the board and soared farther than he had ever gone before, landing in the pit with a mark of 26-3 to take the title. For Hicks, it was a new outdoor personal best in the long jump as he took over the No. 6 spot on LSU's all-time outdoor performance list in the event.


Not only that, but the Houston native becomes the first LSU Tiger to win the championship flight of the long jump at the Penn Relays since Olympic silver medalist John Moffitt did so in 2004. In 2001 and 2002, LSU great Walter Davis won back-to-back titles as LSU now boasts four winners in the long jump all-time at the world's premier relay carnival.


"I was really excited about winning because it's my first win at any big competition, not just the Penn Relays. This was my outdoor personal best and just a half inch short of my indoor best, so I am definitely pleased with my performance," Hicks said. "I ran the 4x100 a little earlier, so I used that as sort of a warm-up for the long jump. I feel like that helped me.


"Nicholas Gordon beat me in his last jump (at the NCAA Indoor Championships), so I only knew my last jump had to be a good one. It was motivation for me."


Hicks joins freshman Rachel Laurent as LSU athletes winning individual crowns in championship flights this weekend at the Penn Relays as Laurent kicked off the festivities on Thursday, winning the pole vault title with a meet record clearance of 13-10 ½.


"I'm so proud of Jeremy in the way he has competed for us all year long," said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. "He has come back after a disappointing junior season and is really performing at a level where we know we can count on him to score for us in the NCAA meets. We haven't had anyone show that kind of consistency in that event since John Moffitt left here.


"That's the level at which Jeremy is competing for us this year. He's worked very hard to get here and finish his career as one of the best at this level. He still has so much to look forward to."


Sophomore Melissa Ogbourne has captured a pair of individual titles in the college sections of the meet. She followed her victory in the college long jump on Thursday with a win in the triple jump on Friday as she posted a wind-aided and improved NCAA Regional mark of 42-6 ¾. She had her first NCAA Regional qualifying mark in the long jump on Thursday with a windy 20-0 ¾.


Friday also marked LSU's first victory in a Championship of America relay final this weekend as the Lady Tigers captured their third-straight wagon wheel trophy in the sprint medley relay.


Anchored by Philadelphia native LaTavia Thomas, the Lady Tigers crossed the finish line with an impressive time of 3 minutes, 47.26 seconds to finish ahead of Georgia State (3:48.66). Thomas has returned to her hometown to anchor the team to victory in each of the last three seasons as she teamed with Samantha Henry, Kenyanna Wilson and Brittany Hall for the win on Friday.


The Lady Tigers have tied a Penn Relays record with their third-straight win in the sprint medley relay as Texas (1988-90) and Arizona State (1993-95) have also accomplished the feat, while their five titles all-time matches the total won by Texas in the history of the meet.


In addition to the Lady Tigers' dominating victory in the sprint medley relay, LSU qualified three more relay teams into Championship of America finals to be run on Saturday afternoon.


Not only did he win the long jump, but Hicks led off the Tigers' 4x100-meter relay that qualified with the third-fastest time of Friday's preliminary round. He combined with junior Will Coppage, sophomore Gabriel Mvumvure and senior Trindon Holliday to carry the stick around the track in 39.93 as the foursome will run in Saturday's final scheduled to go off at 12:25 p.m. CT.


With a win, the Tigers would set a meet record with their fifth-straight Penn Relays championship in the 4x100-meter relay as their current streak of four straight dating back to the 2005 season ties the current meet record previously set by Morgan State from 1953-56.


The LSU men also advanced their 4x400-meter relay into Saturday's championship action as they qualified second in Friday's preliminary round with junior Jamar Howard, junior Armanti Hayes, freshman Ade Alleyne-Forte and freshman Robert Simmons running a time of 3:06.07.


The Lady Tigers added a relay team of their own into the Championship of America finals set for Saturday as the 4x200-meter relay team of junior Kristina Davis, Tate, junior Liann Kellman and senior Monique Cabral was the sixth-fastest qualifier of the afternoon with a time of 1:35.14.


Not only did the Tigers and Lady Tigers qualify three relay teams into Championship of America finals, but seven LSU athletes earned a spot in individual event finals to be run Saturday.


Henry (11.31), Wilson (11.50) and Kellman (11.77) will each line up in the final of the 100-meter dash, while sophomore Tenaya Jones will run in the final of the 100-meter hurdles after clocking a time of 13.51 in the preliminary round. For the Tigers, Holliday (10.48) and Mvumvure (10.49), advanced to the 100-meter final, while freshman Barrett Nugent posted a new wind-legal personal best of 13.89 to qualify for the final of the 110-meter hurdles.


"Now it's time for us to get ready to come back out and compete well again tomorrow," Shaver said. "There aren't many things in this sport like running on Saturday at the Penn Relays. We will have great weather and probably a record crowd of more than 50,000 in the stands, so I'm certain our kids are going to come out and compete with a lot of passion for LSU.


"That's something we all look forward to, and we'll have that opportunity tomorrow in front of a crowd like many of us have never experienced. What a great environment in which to compete."


The 115th running of the Penn Relays Carnival will come to a dramatic conclusion Saturday as the "USA vs. The World" portion of the meet will be broadcast live to a worldwide viewing audience on ESPN2 from 3-5 p.m. CT. LSU will compete in the field events starting at 8 a.m. with the first events on the track scheduled to begin at 12:25 p.m.


LSU's Qualifiers for the 2009 NCAA Mideast Regional Championships (as of April 24)




Name, Event, Mark/Time

Chris Bless, Hammer Throw, 197-2

Mark DeBlanc, Javelin, 216-4

Josh Dominguez, Pole Vault, 16-6 ¾

Rabun Fox, Hammer Throw, 202-6

Reggie Haslom, Triple Jump, 51-0 ¼w

Armanti Hayes, 400 meters, 46.79

Walter Henning, Hammer Throw, 235-11

Jeremy Hicks, Long Jump, 26-3

Trindon Holliday, 100 meters, 10.12

Jamaal James, 800 meters, 1:48.86

Richard Jones, 800 meters, 1:48.85

Michael Lauro, Hammer Throw, 205-0

Patrick Lee, 400 hurdles, 51.52

Anthony Martel, Javelin, 209-7

Marcus McGehee, Pole Vault, 16-6 ¾

Gabriel Mvumvure, 100 meters, 10.42w

Gabriel Mvumvure, 200 meters, 20.89

Barrett Nugent, 110 hurdles, 13.84w

Ryan Roubion, Javelin, 206-8

Robert Simmons, 400 meters, 46.46

Zedric Thomas, Long Jump, 24-9 ¾

Zedric Thomas, Triple Jump, 50-11

Adam Wilcox, Shot Put, 55-5

Hicks, Coppage, Mvumvure, Holliday; 4x100 Relay; 39.07

Howard, Hayes, Alleyne-Forte, Simmons; 4x400 Relay; 3:05.97




Name, Event, Mark/Time

Monique Cabral, 100 meters, 11.62

Brittani Carter, High Jump, 6-0

Kristina Davis, 100 meters, 11.68w

Kristina Davis, 200 meters, 23.87

Brittany Hall, 800 meters, 2:05.82

Samantha Henry, 100 meters, 11.19

Samantha Henry, 200 meters, 23.27

Tenaya Jones, 100 hurdles, 13.28

Liann Kellman, 200 meters, 23.78

Brieanna Kennedy, Javelin, 151-6

Rachel Laurent, Pole Vault, 14-1 ¼

Anna Lyons, Javelin, 160-11

Melissa Ogbourne, Long Jump, 20-0 ½w

Melissa Ogbourne, Triple Jump, 41-8 ½

Katelyn Rodrigue, Pole Vault, 13-6 ¼

Cassandra Tate, 200 meters, 23.68

LaTavia Thomas, 800 meters, 2:04.48

Kayann Thompson, 800 meters, 2:04.25

Kim Williams, Hammer Throw, 190-11

Kenyanna Wilson, 100 meters, 11.31

Kenyanna Wilson, 200 meters, 23.45

Cabral, Tate, Henry, Wilson; 4x100 Relay; 43.39

Hall, Tate, Thompson, Thomas; 4x400 Relay; 3:31.81