While the LSU track and field team won 12 individual events and four relays Saturday to sweep the titles in the third annual Battle on the Bayou, none were bigger than the one recorded by Tori Bliss.
Bliss, a sophomore shot putter whose previous personal best was 51 feet, 7 inches, stole the spotlight usually taken by LSU’s sprinters, hurdlers, jumpers and relay teams with a school-record throw of 55-11.
Bliss’ big breakthrough helped the fifth-ranked Lady Tigers pile up 188 points to win the title for the second year in a row to Penn State’s 139, while Arizona State (134) and Mississippi State (96) followed.
The 10th-ranked Tigers also won a second consecutive title with 140 points, followed by Penn State (124), Arizona State (119), Connecticut (117) and Mississippi State (90).
“I like scored meets,” LSU coach Dennis Shaver said. “I appreciate teams like Penn State, Arizona State and Mississippi State coming down for some good competition. They all competed hard from beginning to end.”
Bliss certainly did.
Throwing against Arizona State throws star Anna Jelmini, the fifth-place finisher at the NCAA indoor meet last month, Bliss unleashed her winning throw on her third attempt to better Jelmini’s opening toss of 55-43/4.
Bliss, who changed her throwing technique after the indoor season, broke Danyel Mitchell’s school-record of 54-61/2 that stood since 1994 by 161/2 inches. A two-time NCAA discus champion, Mitchell was also a six-time All-American in the indoor and outdoor shot put.
“At first it was frustrating, but I’m starting to get the hang of it,” said Bliss, who switched from a glide to a rotational throwing motion. “Things started clicking in practice this week, and I had some bigger throws. I had a good feeling about this weekend.
“The biggest thing was being comfortable in the ring and just having the confidence from hitting my marks consistently in practice.”
Bliss was just one of a long list of individual winners for LSU, which got two victories from Laura Carleton, the reigning Southeastern Conference indoor champion at 5,000 meters, in the 1,500 and 3,000.
Carleton shaved more than two seconds off her personal best in the 1,500 in 4 minutes, 19.99 seconds and returned to win the 3,000 in 9:44.09.
“Even though the 1,500 isn’t my strength, it was a very competitive field,” said Carleton, who finished just ahead of teammate Charlene Lipsey (4:20.03). “We’ve been training hard the last couple of weeks and coach (Mark Elliott) and I talked about a sub-4:20 pace.
“I felt I was in shape for it, but I was worried about holding that pace.”
That pace was made quicker by Lipsey, one of the nation’s top 800-meter runners who was third at that distance in the NCAA indoor meet.
The Lady Tigers also got a big effort from Kimberlyn Duncan, who claimed the 200 with an NCAA-leading time of 22.82 seconds — which was run into a slight headwind — and also ran second leg on the 4x100 relay that won in 44.16 seconds.
Jasmin Stowers, who won the 100-meter hurdles in 13.22 seconds, ran the first leg on the sprint relay and was joined by Takeia Pinckney and Toshika Sylvester.
Other winners were 800-meter specialist Natoya Goule in the 400 (53.16 seconds), Andria Aguilar in the 800 (2:09.33), Lynnika Pitts in the triple jump (41-73/4) and the 4x400 relay (3:34.82).
Goule ran the anchor on the mile relay and was joined by Siedda Herbert, Nikita Tracey and Montenae Roye-Speight.
The Tigers also won the 4x100 relay in 39.61 seconds with three of the four claiming individual titles later as Aaron Ernest took the 100 (10.32), anchor Shermund Allsop won the 200 (20.95) and Darrell Bush prevailed in the 400 (46.15).
Damar Forbes ran the leadoff leg on the relay.
Bush later ran the first leg on the winning 4x400 team (3:06.16) and was joined by Quincy Downing, Cyril Grayson and Caleb Williams, while Rodney Brown won the discus (196-3).
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