A week after having hydration problems in the Battle on the Bayou meet, LSU middle distance runner Natoya Goule didn’t expect to be up to par in the 800 meters on Saturday.
She was a lot better than that, however, in winning her signature event to highlight the LSU track and field teams’ performance in the Alumni Gold meet at Bernie Moore Stadium.
Goule, a junior transfer from South Plains (Texas) College, continued to rewrite the school’s record books while breezing to a win in the 800 with a stadium-record time of 2 minutes, 00.76 seconds. That bettered the old mark of 2:00.77 by former LSU All-American Neisha Bernard-Thomas in 2010.
In doing so, Goule, who claimed the title in the 800 meters at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March, lowered her school record of 2:01.18 which she set just two weeks earlier in a meet at UCLA.
This time, Goule didn’t know it was coming because she didn’t feel as good as she did at that meet.
“My health was much better at UCLA,” she said after beating former LSU NCAA indoor champion LaTavia Thomas (2:02.72) and teammate Charlene Lipsey (2:03.13) to the finish line. “I cramped up a little bit last week, so I didn’t expect to run two minutes. I really surprised myself today.
“At 600 meters, Coach (Mark Elliott) said I was at 1:27-high,” added Goule, who at that point had separated herself from Thomas and Lipsey, “so I knew I had a shot to run two minutes.”
LSU coach Dennis Shaver was impressed by Goule’s performance considering the she broke the school record twice in three weeks after it stood for nine years.
“Natoya was the highlight of the meet,” said Shaver. “That was impressive to get on this track where so many great runners have competed and set a stadium record says something. At the same time, Charlene ran faster than at this meet a year ago.”
LSU also got a big effort from junior-college transfer Nikia Tracey in the 400-meter hurdles as she ran a strong race to finish second behind 2012 NCAA champion Cassandra Tate.
Tracey was passed in the final 50 meters by Tate, who was among many former LSU athletes who returned to compete for Tiger Olympians, but still posted a personal-best time of 56.51 seconds as Tate won in 56.40.
“That was a breakthough for Nikita,” Shaver said of Tracey, whose previous PR was 56.89 set back in 2010. “She’s been getting better and that was a significant jump for her today.”
All-American Kimberlyn Duncan, competing for the final time as a collegian at Bernie Moore, only ran the 4x100-meter relay and 100.
She easily won the 100 in 11.18 seconds after the Lady Tigers’ relay posted a time of 43.95 seconds to take second behind Texas A&M (43.64).
Shaver was happy with the time of his women’s and men’s 4x100 relay units considering those groups were running together for the first time.
The men’s team was fourth in 39.24 seconds, shaving more than three-tenths of a second off its season’s-best time. Texas A&M won in 39.02, followed by a Tiger Olympians’ team anchored by three-time Olympic medalist Richard Thompson (39.16) and Canada (39.18).
LSU’s only other win came from Karen Henning in the hammer (194 feet, 9 inches), but Shaver said it was good to see some young athletes make strides heading into the final four meets of the season.
“I thought all the athletes did the things we’ve been asking them to do, and they competed really well today,” he said. “The top athletes are consistent with their performance, but the No. 2 and No. 3 people stepped up and competed better.”
Texas A&M’s Kamaria Brown, a Baton Rouge native, had one of the top performances in the meet when she won the 200 meters in 22.47 seconds — the second-fastest time on the NCAA list this season — after running the third leg on the winning 4x100 relay.
After breaking a 28-year-old school record in the 5,000 meters on Friday night in Walnut, Calif., Lady Tigers distance ace Laura Carleton was among the seniors honored during the Senior Recognition ceremony Saturday.
Carleton finished 13th in the invitational elite race at the Mt. Sac Relays with a time of 15 minutes, 44.41 seconds, which shattered the old school mark of 16:18.89 by Muffy McLeod in 1985 by more than 34 seconds.
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