Lady Tigers advance two relays to Penn Relays finals

Simpson, Szacinski named All-SEC second team

PHILADELPHIA — The fourth-ranked LSU women’s track team opened the 119th running of the Penn Relay Carnival on Thursday by earning a spot in two Championship of America relay finals with two of the fastest times of the day at Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Lady Tigers were easy winners in the second of nine qualifying heats in the women’s 4x100 relay after Latoya McDermott, Kimberlyn Duncan, Takeia Pinckney and Toshika Sylvester combined to run 44.36 seconds to top Johnson C. Smith (45.04) and Hampton (46.45) in the race.

Thursday’s prelims sets up a heated championship final on Friday as the Lady Tigers ran the third-fastest time of the day behind heat winners Texas A&M (44.33) and Oregon (44.34).

The Lady Tigers also earned their spot in Saturday’s final in the 4x400 relay with a runner-up finish in the third heat while running the fourth-fastest time of the day.

With the foursome of Siedda Herbert, Nikita Tracey, Montenae Roye-Speight and Natoya Goule, the Lady Tigers posted a time of 3 minutes, 36.81 seconds to finish behind the 3:35.22 turned in by University Tech of Jamaica.

The Lady Tigers were the fourth-fastest qualifiers into the 4x400 final to run Saturday as they followed a trio of heat winners in Texas A&M (3:34.72), University Tech (3:35.22) and Oregon (3:35.37).

LSU’s women also ran their first relay final as Laura Carleton, Latoya McDermott, Andria Aguilar and Charlene Lipsey ran the fourth-fastest distance medley relay in LSU history.

With Lipsey anchoring the team in 4:46 on the 1,600-meter leg, the Lady Tigers crossed the finish line in 11:22.71 for eighth place. Villanova defended its Penn Relays title in 10:58.84, while LSU also trailed Kentucky (11:04.45), Columbia (11:07.68), Princeton (11:10.13), North Carolina (11:12.92), Penn State (11:17.53) and Georgetown (11:22.08).

“We achieved what we came here to achieve today, as far as getting both of our relays through to the final. Qualifying well on the first day at Penn is so important because it really sets up the weekend for us,” LSU coach Dennis Shaver said. “We also saw a good run from our (distance medley relay) team. It’s not easy to crack our top 10 list in really any event, so it shows they ran well today in a very competitive field.”

Denise Hinton scored a silver medal in the women’s hammer throw to lead the Lady Tigers in the field events as she threw 192 feet, 6 inches to finish behind Connecticut’s Victoria Flowers.

The Huskies standout posted a winning mark of 210-7.

Also earning a fourth-place finish was Lady Tigers’ Shanice Hall, who cleared 5-7¾ for fourth place in the college section of the women’s high jump.

Men’s tennis

SIMPSON, SZACINSKI EARN ALL-SEC SECOND-TEAM HONORS: LSU had two players selected to the All-SEC second team — Chris Simpson and Stefan Szacinski.

South Carolina coach Josh Goffi was named the coach of the year and Mikelis Libietis of Tennessee was named player of the year. Romain Bogaerts of Mississippi State was named the freshman of the year and Daniil Proskura of Alabama was announced as the SEC scholar athlete of the year.

Simpson entered the dual-match season unranked in singles and ranked No. 33 in doubles with Szacinski as his partner. Simpson entered the singles rankings midway through the season and is currently No. 48 in the nation. Simpson and Szacinski are ranked No. 60 in doubles.

Szacinski also entered the season unranked in singles and recently made his season debut in the singles rankings, checking in at No. 104. Szacinski has since moved up to No. 92 in the singles poll. Szacinski notched a 10-6 record in singles, winning eight-straight matches at one point and carrying a 6-2 record against ranked opponents.