Over the years, the LSU women’s track and field team has been known for fast starts at conference and national championship meets.
But the second-ranked Lady Tigers took it to another level Saturday, qualifying nine more athletes in running prelims in the Southeastern Conference Championships at Bernie Moore Track Stadium.
Combined with the seven they advanced Friday night, the LSU women will have 16 athletes in finals along with highly ranked 4x100- and 4x400-meter relay teams and opportunities to score in a couple of field events Sunday when the four-day meet comes to a close.
When the competition resumes at 1 p.m. with the field events and track events at 3 p.m., the Lady Tigers will be in good shape to win their third consecutive SEC outdoor title and fifth in the past six seasons.
“Obviously, for the women, everything fell into place as far as qualifying went the last couple of days,” LSU coach Dennis Shaver said. “We just have to line up Sunday and do it again in the finals.”
After nine of 21 events, Georgia has scored 76 points to LSU’s 471/2 with Arkansas (431/2) and Florida (39) rounding out the top four.
On the men’s side, through six of 21 finals, Arkansas leads with 70 points with Georgia (38), LSU (28) and top-ranked Florida (26) following.
Even though the LSU women are 30 points behind Georgia, the Lady Tigers are in the driver’s seat with 16 entrants in seven races ranging from the 100 to 1,500 meters. In those same seven races, Georgia has two qualifiers.
While they probably won’t be able to catch Arkansas in the race for the men’s title, LSU also has double-digit qualifiers for the final day.
The ninth-ranked Tigers, who had four qualifiers Friday, added seven Saturday to give them 11 along with two relay teams as well.
But LSU didn’t just do it on the track Saturday.
Sophomore Annie Simoneaux started the day off strong for the Lady Tigers when she finished second in the javelin at 157 feet, 11 inches — which was a personal best by 31/2 feet — in the first final of the day and freshman Tori Bliss was third in the shot put at 51-7.
It extended to the long jump where Brittany Porter also took second with a mark of 20-91/4 while the Tigers’ Damar Forbes and Kyron Blaise finished 2-3 with jumps of 26-81/4 and 25-111/2, respectively.
On the track, LSU continued to roll as Charlene Lipsey and Laura Carleton qualified in the first running event of the day.
Lipsey, who won her heat in the 800 prelims on Friday night, finished first in her heat of the 1,500 with a time of 4 minutes, 23.15 seconds, while Carleton also earned a spot with a fourth-place effort of 4:25.25.
In the 100-meter hurdles, Jasmin Stowers and Shanekia Hall easily won their heats with times of 13.16 and 13.29 seconds, respectively. Stowers had the fastest time of the day, while Hall recorded the third-fastest time.
In the 400, Rebecca Alexander won her heat in 53.18 seconds to automatically advance to the final, while Jonique Day also got in on time with a 53.28.
Finally, LSU picked up three spots in the 100 final as Kimberlyn Duncan and Semoy Hackett won their heats with times of 11.17 and 11.25 seconds, respectively, while Takeia Pinckney qualified with an 11.35.
Rachel Laurent tied for third in the pole vault final with a mark of 13-41/4 and Lynnika Pitts also added three points with a sixth-place finish in the long jump at 20-53/4.
On the men’s side, Barrett Nugent qualified for the 110-meter hurdles final when he easily won his heat in 13.50 seconds and will try for a third straight SEC outdoor title Sunday.
The Tigers also got three athletes each in the final for the 400 and 100 meters.
In the 400, Robert Simmons, Riker Hylton and Ade Alleyne-Forte all were second in their heats with season’s-best times. Simmons led the way with a 45.99, Hylton clocked in at 46.05 seconds and Alleyne-Forte ran a 46.50.
Freshman Aaron Ernest led three Tigers into the 100 final as he won his heat in 10.19 seconds. Rynell Parson was second in his heat at 10.40 and Keyth Talley was third in his heat with a 10.33.
Freshman Rodney Brown finished sixth in the discus with a throw of 173-9.
“Our athletes got it done,” Shaver said. “I can’t really think of anything I’m disappointed in. We did a lot in qualifying to get in position to make a run at maybe getting second place on the men’s side.
“We can’t worry about what shape we’re in (in the standings) on either side,” he said. “But we’re certainly not beating ourselves. We just have to line up again and do it Sunday.”
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