Five advance to NCAA Track & Field Semifinals
GREENSBORO, N.C. - The LSU Track & Field teams enjoyed an outstanding day of qualifying in Thursday's opener at the 2013 NCAA East Preliminary Rounds as five Tigers and Lady Tigers earned their spot in the NCAA semifinals with their effort in field-event action held at Irwin Belk Track on the campus of North Carolina A&T University.
An additional 12 athletes advanced to national quarterfinals to be run on the track on Friday as the 100-meter dash, 400-meter dash, 800-meter run and 400-meter hurdles on Day 2 in Greensboro.
Seniors Damar Forbes and Brittany Porter each earned their spot in the national semifinals for the men's and women's long jump, while seniors Joseph Caraway and Thomas Reinecke advanced in the men's pole vault and sophomore Rodney Brown punched his ticket to Eugene, Ore., in the men's discus throw.
The semifinal and final rounds of the 2013 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships will run June 5-8 at Oregon's Hayward Field in just two weeks. The Top 12 finishers for each open and relay event here at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds will earn the right to compete for a national championship in their season finale in Eugene.
"This meet is all about doing what you need to do to make it to the next round. I thought both our teams did a great job of that today," said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. "We got off to a fast start today with Rodney and Damar making it through in some early field events, and really just continued that throughout the afternoon and into the evening with the events we had on the track."
Brown got the ball rolling for the Tigers with a runner-up finish in the men's discus in the first event of the meet as he is set to make his first career semifinals appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Brown took an early lead in the competition by throwing a series-best of 192 feet, 5 inches on his second attempt of the third flight to lock up a coveted Top 12 spot for qualification in the NCAA semifinals. He dropped back into second place overall when Rutgers standout James Plummer posted a leading mark of 201-0 in the third round for the top throw of the day.
Brown is poised to become the fifth LSU Tiger in program history to earn All-America honors in the men's discus throw and the first in 15 seasons since Alex Forst during the 1998 season. The Tiger sophomore ranks No. 3 in the NCAA rankings this season with his personal best of 206-3 set in a runner-up finish at the Texas Relays on March 30.
Forbes joined Brown in the national semifinals as he followed his teammate with a fourth-place finish in the men's long jump after posting a top wind-aided mark of 25-0 ½ on his opening jump.
Like Brown, Forbes took the early lead with his opening jump of 25-0 ½w and held strong in third place heading into the finals after he was overtaken by Virginia Tech's Jeff Artis-Gray with a wind-aided 25-8 ¼ and Ohio State's Mike Hartfield jumped 25-1 ¾ in the second round. While passing his final three jumps, Forbes dropped into fourth place after East Tennessee State's Tyler Stepp jumped 25-6 ¾ on his final attempt.
Forbes, the reigning SEC Outdoor champion, has his eye on a first career national championship as the NCAA's No. 1-ranked long jumper for 2013 after taking the conference crown with a career-best wind-aided effort of 27-4 ½ in the SEC final. Forbes has won the NCAA silver medal in the event in each of the last four NCAA Championships between the indoor and outdoor seasons.
Porter will join Forbes in the long jump field in Eugene as she secured her spot in the national semifinals with an eighth-place finish in women's qualifying on Thursday.
Porter, who was the No. 28-ranked long jumper on the women's side entering the meet, won the second flight and advanced to the final in sixth place overall with a wind-aided mark of 20-1 on her second attempt for the preliminary round. She was only passed by two other jumpers in the final three rounds while finishing in eighth place to advance to the NCAA semifinals for the second-straight season.
Two Tiger seniors are also set to make their first semifinals appearance in the men's pole vault as Caraway and Reinecke were among 12 vaulters in the field clearing the bar at 17-2 ¾. Reinecke took just one attempt to clear 17-2 ¾ and tie for fifth place, while Caraway went up and over the bar on his second attempt to punch their ticket to Eugene.
"We had a number of athletes step it up today to put our teams in a good position as we continue here this weekend," Shaver said. "Getting five through to the semifinals in the field events is big for our team once we go to Eugene, and of course, we advanced well on the track today. That will give us a great opportunity to add to our numbers when we come back tomorrow."
Thursday's opening day of competition at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds also featured eight Lady Tigers and four Tigers advancing to the quarterfinal rounds of their respective events to run on Friday afternoon.
Juniors Nikita Tracey and Shana-Gaye Tracey and sophomore Chanice Chase each advanced to Friday's quarterfinal in the women's 400-meter hurdles with their performance in Thursday's opener on the track.
Nikita Tracey led the way as the third-fastest heat winner of the day with a strong run of 57.73 seconds to advance to her first NCAA quarterfinal. Chase claimed automatic qualification as the third-fastest finisher in the third heat with a time of 58.97, and Shana-Gaye Tracey advanced on time after running 58.82 for fourth place in the fifth preliminary heat.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers then turned up the heat in the first round of the 100-meter dash as five of their six athletes earned their lane in Friday's quarterfinals at Irwin Belk Track.
They were led by three heat winners for the evening as senior Kimberlyn Duncan raced to the finish line in 11.23 (+1.7) to win the second heat and junior Takeia Pinckney matched her seasonal-best wind-aided time of 11.41 (+2.3) to win the sixth heat of the women's 100 meters and sophomore Aaron Ernest sped across the finish line in 10.21 (+1.9) to win the first heat of the men's 100 meters and advance to the quarterfinals.
Juniors Shermund Allsop (10.43) and Toshika Sylvester (11.57) each grabbed the last qualifying spot into the quarterfinals of both the men's and women's 100 meters with fifth-place finishes in their respective heats.
Tiger freshman Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake also raced to a wind-legal PR of 10.43 (+1.3) for fourth place in the fourth men's heat, but fell just short of Allsop's qualifying time for the men's quarterfinal.
Sophomore Quincy Downing and freshman Darrell Bush then joined their teammates in the quarterfinals of the men's 400-meter dash as Downing nearly matched his lifetime PR in the event and Bush was strong in his NCAA Championships debut in the 400 meters. Downing clocked a seasonal-best of 46.19 for third place in the sixth heat, nearly matching his PR of 46.18 set in the NCAA quarterfinals a year ago in Jacksonville, Fla., and Bush ran 46.54 for second place in the fourth heat to advance to Friday's quarterfinals.
Senior Charlene Lipsey and junior Natoya Goule then wrapped up Thursday's qualifying action by running the two fastest times in the women's 800 meters to win their first-round heats. Lipsey lined up in the first heat and posted the top time of the day at 2 minutes, 4.25 seconds, while Goule followed by winning the fourth heat in 2:04.50 for the second-fastest time of the opening round.
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