LSU’s Stowers shows improvement

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — LSU hurdler Jasmin Stowers came to the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships intent on improving several places from her first two indoor national meets.

Her sixth-place finish as a freshman and eighth-place performance a year ago wouldn’t cut it, which was the motivation for a top-three finish Saturday night at the Randal Tyson Track Center.

A poor start doomed Stowers before rallying for a time of 8.08 seconds to take third behind Clemson’s Brianna Rollins (7.79) and Baylor’s Tiffani McReynolds (7.96). Rollins is the collegiate record-holder.

“It’s better than eighth place, but I still have a lot of room for improvement,” Stowers, a junior, said. “Coach (Dennis Shaver) and I have to work on my start and just get better from there. It’s still a good start to my outdoor season.

“I’m thankful that I got third because (Rollins and McReynolds) are really good. They’re great competitors.”

Hadnot breaks through

After two misses, Louisiana Tech sprinter Trey Hadnot finally got to an NCAA final in the 200 meters on Friday night.

Hadnot made the most of it, shaving three-tenths of a second off his own school record en route to a time of 21.48 seconds and a third-place finish.

Hadnot failed to get to the final in the event at the 2011 outdoor meet and the 2012 indoor before breaking through.

“I just felt a sigh of relief,” Hadnot said. “I finally got there. It was just a mental thing because I knew I could physically do it. My training was there this year, my body is in top shape, and getting to the finals was just a matter of breaking that mental barrier for me.”

Higher and higher

One of the more-anticipated events of the two-day meet was the men’s high jump, which featured two medalists from the 2012 London Olympic Games — Kansas State’s Erik Kynard and Indiana’s Derek Drouin.

Kynard won the silver last summer for the United States, while Drouin took the bronze for Canada.

On Saturday, Drouin had the better of it with a winning jump of 7 feet, 8 1/2 inches with Kynard taking third at 7-6.

Drouin had three tries at 7-9 3/4, which would have broken the 24-year-old meet record of 7-9 1/4 by Louisiana-Lafayette’s Hollis Conway, but narrowly missed on his first two attempts before bowing out.

Louisiana connection

Tulane sophomore Merritt Van Meter, the first pole vaulter in school history to compete in the NCAA Championships, failed to clear the opening height of 13 feet, 1 1/2 inches Saturday night and bowed out of the competition.

Van Meter, a Metairie native, went into the meet ranked 16th with a personal-best and school-record mark of 13-10 1/2.

Georgia pole vaulter Morgann Leleux, a New Iberia native who was competing for the first time since having surgery in January for a detached retina, also failed to clear her opening height of 13-11 1/4.

Leleux was the national leader at 14-9.

Brooks breaks mark

Oklahoma’s Tia Brooks made her final NCAA indoor meet a memorable one as she claimed the shot put title with a collegiate record of 63- 3/4 on her third attempt.

Brooks actually won on her first throw of the evening with a toss of 62-2 1/2 — which turned out to be four feet longer than the 58- 1/2 by runner-up Christina Hillman of Iowa State.

On the tube

Taped portions of the two-day NCAA meet will be televised on Sunday, March 17 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on ESPNU.