Four ex-LSU athletes advance to USA semis

DES MOINES, Iowa — LSU track and field alumni went 4-for-4 in the first round of qualifying Thursday as the USA championships got underway at Drake Stadium.

Former Lady Tigers star LaTavia Thomas and former Tigers All-American Richard Jones advanced to the semifinals of the 800 meters, while Muna Lee and Rebecca Alexander reached the semifinals of the 100 and 400 meters, respectively.

Alexander slashed nearly a half second off of her previous seasonal best of 52.70 seconds in the 400 with a qualifying run of 52.22 for third place in her heat.

Alexander, the 2012 NCAA silver medalist, lined up in the fastest 400-meter heat during Thursday’s opener as she followed Francena McCorory (51.38) and Joanna Atkins (51.81) across the finish line. Her time was the fifth-fastest among the 19 competitors.

Lee was also the fifth-fastest qualifier of the day in the women’s 100 meters as she sprinted to the finish line with a seasonal best of her own at 11.35 for fourth place in the third qualifying heat.

Both Alexander and Lee will return to the track on Friday for the semifinal rounds of their respective events.

Jones and Thomas will also race in Friday’s semifinals as Jones ran 1 minute, 47.39 seconds for 10th place in the men’s 800 meters and Thomas clocked 2:02.85 for 12th place in the women’s 800 prelims.

Three of LSU’s All-Americans from the 2013 season came up short in their run to the semifinals as senior Charlene Lipsey finished in 20th place in the women’s 800 meters at 2:03.91, while Kimberlyn Duncan finished in 21st place in the women’s 100 meters at 11.81.

Sophomore Aaron Ernest finished in 26th place in the men’s 100 meters at 10.74.