Mickles: Kimberlyn Duncan’s brilliance won’t lose its luster

EUGENE, Ore. — One day soon, perhaps while she’s waiting to sign a pro contract, the thought of making NCAA track and field history will sink in for LSU sprinter Kimberlyn Duncan.

On Saturday, about 90 minutes after winning her third consecutive 200-meter title at the NCAA championships to wrap up a brilliant four-year college career, Duncan was sporting a big smile.

Perhaps it was a bit of relief for Duncan, who, for the second time in three months, did what no man or woman had ever done: Win three straight 200 titles at the NCAA outdoor meet. In March, she finished off the indoor version of that unprecedented triple crown.

“I’m just going to take this whole weekend to enjoy it,” Duncan said.

Translation: She won’t allow herself too much time to celebrate because the USA championships, at which she will probably make her pro debut, are just a couple of weeks away, with a berth in the world championships on the line.

That’s what LSU coach Dennis Shaver has come to expect from Duncan, who joined the Lady Tigers as an unheralded recruit in the fall of 2009 and leaves as one of the greatest sprinters at a school that has produced a long line of them.

But this one was extra special, Shaver said.

“What Kim achieved is a much more unique accomplishment than what anybody probably realizes,” he said. “As time goes on, history will prove that what she did was a pretty incredible feat. People will see that it’s a great accomplishment.”

Duncan’s double-triple in the 200 helped her finish with a school record-tying seven NCAA titles — matching the seven that two-time U.S. Olympian Muna Lee, whom Shaver also coached, claimed from 2001-04.

“The fact that Kim won as many (NCAA) titles as Muna puts her in some pretty good company,” he said.

Duncan wasn’t the only athlete who drew praise from Shaver after the Lady Tigers finished fourth and the Tigers took seventh in the four-day meet. The Lady Tigers picked up a second win from Natoya Goule in the 800 meters, and Jasmin Stowers had a season-best time of 13.00 seconds in the 100 hurdles a month after not knowing whether she’d get to the meet because of a strained hamstring.

Then there was Damar Forbes’ breakthrough victory in the long jump Thursday, followed by his strong leadoff leg on the Tigers’ 4x100-meter relay team that finished fourth Saturday. Forbes had finished as the runner-up four times in his signature event at the NCAA indoor and outdoor meets before leaping to the win.

“I can’t think of anybody that’s more deserving to win that title than Damar,” Shaver said. “He was a great leader for this team. He accepted the challenge of running on the relay, so I’m extremely happy about that.

“And I can’t say enough about the contributions Natoya Goule made for us, winning the indoor and outdoor titles in her first year at this level,” he added. “I can’t complain about any of that.”