Natoya Goule’s 800 win puts Lady Tigers in NCAA track hunt

EUGENE, Ore. — With a good day Friday, which included scoring its first points of the meet, the fourth-ranked LSU women’s track and field team hoped to position itself for a possible run at the team title.

But top-ranked Kansas had a better day than even the Jayhawks expected at Hayward Field and gained the upper hand in what was expected to be a tight race for the team title.

Still, LSU will be vying for a top-four finish when the four-day meet comes to a close Saturday after Natoya Goule, Charlene Lipsey, Kimberlyn Duncan and Nikita Tracey combined for 23 points Friday.

Kansas, which was the runner-up at the NCAA indoor meet in March, leads with 48 points with eight events remaining Saturday. Oregon has 33 points, followed by Arizona State (26), Stanford (25) and LSU (23).

On the men’s side, Southern California and Texas lead with 32 points each, while Arkansas (301/2), Florida State (211/2) and Texas A&M (21) round out the top five. LSU is eighth with 17 points.

The Lady Tigers had a good day Friday, topped by Goule’s win in the 800 meters. She posted a personal-record time of 2 minutes, 0.06 seconds to add the outdoor title to the indoor crown she won in March.

A fourth-place finish by Charlene Lipsey in the same event at 2:01.70 gave the Lady Tigers 15 points, which came after Duncan clocked a time of 11.08 seconds to take third in the 100-meter final.

In a matter of 20 minutes, LSU had put up 21 points after Tracey started the day by finishing seventh in the 400-meter hurdles at 57.03 seconds.

“I’m happy for the win and to put my team in a good position,” Goule said. “I’d like to have run under 2 minutes, but the team needed me to win. I like the win most of all because this is about a team and what we want to accomplish.”

Little did she know at the time that Kansas was doing its best — and more — to offset her performance.

The Jayhawks picked up a clump of points with an unexpected win in the heptathlon and second-place finishes in the triple jump and pole vault to add 26 points to the 22 they picked up in the first two days.

“You have to credit Kansas because they positioned themselves well today,” LSU coach Dennis Shaver said. “That was a big breakthrough for them in the heptathlon. They certainly have enough points to win, but Oregon had themselves a good day, too. ...

“There’s still a lot of meet left. It’s not over yet. Anything can happen.”

LSU will try to pick up big points in the 200 meters, where Duncan is favored to win her third straight NCAA outdoor title to go with the three indoor crowns she has won at that distance.

The Lady Tigers also have a pair of relay teams and Jasmin Stowers in the 100-meter hurdles, but even that may not be enough to catch Kansas.

Goule did her best as she rolled to the win, holding off Oregon’s Laura Roesler (2:00.98) down the stretch despite the urging of the home crowd.

“I don’t tend to think about the race; I just go out there and do my best,” Goule said. “When I was coming down (the homestretch), I was looking at the (video) screen to see where they were. I could feel (Roesler) coming. I feel like I ran a great race, and I’m grateful to win.”

The LSU men added more points to the 10 Damar Forbes picked up with a win in the long jump Thursday night and moved into position to possibly make a run at a top-five finish.

On Friday, Rodney Brown took fourth in the discus at 199 feet, 4 inches, and Aaron Ernest, who was battling a hamstring problem, finished seventh in a tough 100 final (10.17).

In that final, the top five finishers all went 10.01 or better, though it was wind-aided.

Brown surged into the lead with his first throw of the competition but settled for fourth when he couldn’t improve on it.

“Actually, that was the throw I needed to get where I wanted to be,” he said. “Basically, I felt like it gave me some confidence to go after a big one.”

“I feel really good about the efforts we’re getting,” Shaver said. “We’re getting great efforts from everybody.

“Natoya ran a very solid race today and did exactly what we wanted her to do, and I’m extremely happy that Rodney could score some big points at a national meet.”