COLUMBIA, Mo. — Just days before the start of the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships, LSU coach Dennis Shaver looked at the team races and came to the conclusion that they were too close to call.
As it turned out, Shaver was right on the money — especially on the women’s side.
Second-ranked Texas A&M, No. 3 Florida, No. 4 LSU and No. 6 Arkansas fought for 21 events in the four-day meet and took it right to the end Sunday with just 11 points separating the schools.
Texas A&M clinched its first SEC track title in the final event — the 4x400-meter relay — after the Aggies surged in front with a 2-3-8 finish for 15 points in the triple jump.
A&M wound up with 117 points, while LSU had 112. Arkansas, which won the SEC indoor crown in February, finished with 109, and Florida settled for fourth with 106.
In the men’s division, fifth-ranked Arkansas had a little more breathing room as the Razorbacks won with 1521/2 points, while top-ranked Florida claimed second with 123. They were followed by No. 2 Texas A&M (118) and LSU (721/2).
The LSU women were denied a fourth consecutive title when Texas A&M outscored them by 11 points in the triple jump, giving them an 11-point lead going to the final two events.
Even though Laura Carleton finished fourth in the 5,000 meters in 16 minutes, 14.65 seconds and the Lady Tigers’ 4x400 relay was third with a season-best time of 3:31.94, the Aggies clinched the title after a fourth-place finish in the relay.
Both teams dueled with Arkansas in the final few hours of the meet, with all three holding the lead at some point.
LSU got in position when Natoya Goule raced to victory in the 800 meters in 2:01.12 and Kimberlyn Duncan swept the 100- and 200-meter dashes for the second consecutive year with times of 11.32 and 22.35 seconds.
Duncan’s 200 time equaled the SEC meet record and was the second-fastest in the world this season. She became the first woman to win three 200 titles in a row at the SEC outdoor meet.
“Both feel great, but being able to win the 200 again is awesome,” Duncan said. “In the 100, I was just trying to score points for the team. My time went down a lot (from a season-best of 22.82) in the 200, so I was excited about that.”
Duncan earlier teamed with Latoya McDermott, Takeia Pinckney and Toshika Sylvester to take second in the 4x100 relay in 43.81 seconds. A&M won in 43.43 with Baton Rouge native Kamaria Brown, who later placed second in the 200 and 400, running the third leg.
Combined with the two points she got for the relay, Duncan earned the Commissioner’s Trophy as the women’s high-point scorer with 22.
LSU also got third-place efforts from Pinckney in the 100 (11.45), Charlene Lipsey in the 800 (2:05.62) and Nikita Tracey in the 400 hurdles (56.69).
“We knew we had some issues in the 100-meter hurdles with Jasmin Stowers not being 100 percent,” Shaver said. “But credit Texas A&M because they had some problems, too. I thought Saturday night if we scored 108 points, we’d have a good meet.”
On the men’s side, LSU finished a spot or two higher than Shaver expected. The 4x100 relay team of Damar Forbes, Aaron Ernest, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and Shermund Allsop started the day with a win in 38.98 seconds, shaving almost three-tenths of a second off their season best in upsetting Texas A&M and Florida.
Then, Rodney Brown won the discus with a throw of 203 feet, 1 inch, winning by 9 feet.
Ernest finished fourth in the 100 (10.20) and 200 (20.88); Thomas Reinecke was fourth in the pole vault (17-3); and Fitzroy Dunkley was fourth in the high jump (6-103/4).
“I thought we had a great meet on both sides,” Shaver said. “They both competed extremely hard to the end, but the men had a better meet than we could ever have imagined.”