LAFAYETTE, La. – Two Ragin’ Cajuns Track Complex stadium records fell to the Lady Tigers on Saturday at the Louisiana Classics as they blasted a season-opening 43.12 seconds in the 4×100-meter relay before senior Travia Jones took down the facility mark in the women’s 400-meter dash with a lifetime personal best of 52.31.
When the Lady Tigers last stepped onto the track to run the 4×100-meter relay, they were crowned NCAA Champions in record-breaking fashion as they set the Hayward Field record at the University of Oregon to end their 2016 season. That’s where they ran one of the fastest times in collegiate history with a winning 42.65 in the national final.
Three members of LSU’s NCAA-title-winning lineup returned for Saturday’s outdoor opener as junior Mikiah Brisco, sophomore Kortnei Johnson and senior Jada Martin were anchored by junior Aleia Hobbs.
The Lady Tigers were never challenged as they destroyed their own stadium record with a season-opening time of 43.12 to finish more than three seconds ahead of UL-Lafayette in second place at 46.51. Southeastern Louisiana trailed in third with a time of 46.69, while LSU’s “B” team of freshmen Tonea Marshall, Cassondra Hall, Brittley Humphrey and senior Rushell Harvey was fourth in 46.75.
LSU’s women ran their fastest season-opening relay this millennium as they smashed their own Ragin’ Cajuns Track Complex stadium record of 44.63 set just two seasons ago in 2016. Their fastest season-opening time in the 4×100-meter relay since the turn of the century previously stood at 43.68 to kick off the 2010 season.
If Saturday’s performance is any indication, the Lady Tigers are well poised to defend their Texas Relays title in the women’s sprint relay in two weeks when they will next line up at Mike A. Myers Stadium.
Jones took down a stadium record of her own while running the fastest 400 meters of her collegiate career at 52.31 in her outdoor opener as she led a 1-2-3 sweep for the Lady Tigers in the women’s event. By running a new lifetime best, Jones eclipsed a 31-year-old stadium record of 52.59 previous set by Alabama’s Lillie Leatherwood way back in 1986.
Sophomore Rachel Misher, an SEC finalist in her rookie season last spring, followed in second place with a season-opening 53.04, while junior Kymber Payne set a lifetime PR of her own at 53.75 for third place overall.
“Coming back from the NCAA Indoor Championships last weekend, I know our women were disappointed with their performance and the way they ended what was a great indoor season to that point,” said LSU Head Coach Dennis Shaver. “It’s a great start for our team to go straight into the outdoor season and perform at such a high level our first time out. It’s very encouraging as we move forward.”
LSU’s athletes totaled nine event wins in the final day of the Louisiana Classics as seniors Nataliyah Friar, Blair Henderson and Bryiana Richardson; sophomores Erika Lewis and Hollie Parker and freshmen Cassondra Hall and Tonea Marshall added their names alongside Jones and the Lady Tigers’ 4×100-meter relay as the team’s leading performers.
Fresh off an All-American seventh-place national finish in the men’s 800 meters at the NCAA Indoor Championships, Henderson added the 800-meter title on Saturday to the 1,500-meter crown he won on Friday night while running a season-opening 1:47.58 to already rank among the nation’s best on the outset of the outdoor season. Junior teammate Jack Wilkes finished runner-up to Henderson with a time of 1:50.75.
Sophomore Erika Lewis made it a sweep of 800-meter titles for LSU when she clocked a lifetime PR of 2:10.18 to win the women’s event while edging Tulane’s Jessica Adamson (2:10.23) at the finish line.
Lewis was not the only Lady Tiger crowned an event champion with the fastest race of her career as Hall matched her wind-legal PR to take the tape and lead a medal sweep for LSU in the women’s 100-meter dash for her collegiate debut outdoors. Hall scored a runaway victory with a time of 11.39 (-0.3) ahead of senior Rushell Harvey in second place at 11.51 and sophomore Shayna Yon in third place at 11.79.
The Tigers were also among the top performers in the men’s 100-meter dash as sophomore Jaron Flournoy (10.56) and freshman Akanni Hislop (10.60) crossed the finish line 1-2 for the fourth heat for second and third place, respectively, in the overall standings. Their heat was run into a stiff headwind of 1.4 meters per second.
Marshall was another LSU freshman crowning her collegiate debut with a win as she clocked 13.40 (+1.8) to beat freshman teammate Brittley Humphrey (13.51) to the finish line in the women’s 100-meter hurdles. The race also saw sophomore Brittany Kelly break 14 seconds with a time of 13.99 for fourth place overall.
Friar opened her final outdoor season as a Lady Tiger with her best performance of 2017 as she jumped a series-best wind-legal mark of 42 feet, 0 ¾ inches (+1.0) to win the women’s triple jump. A former All-American in both the long jump and triple jump, Friar soared past her top mark of 41-10 ½ from the indoor season as she looks to go out with a bang in her final season at LSU.
Richardson carried her teammates’ momentum into the final events of the meet as she was the runaway winner of the women’s 400-meter hurdles with a season-opening 58.34 that nearly set another stadium record for the Lady Tigers. She was nearly four seconds faster across the finish line than the rest of the field as Southern Arkansas’ Kenisha Bryant was runner-up with a time of 1:02.26.
Parker later closed out the meet by winning the women’s 5,000 meters ahead of LSU senior Morgan Schuetz (17:41.02) with a time of 17:28.15 in her first collegiate race at the distance. That time moved Parker into the No. 10 spot on LSU’s all-time outdoor performance list in the 5k race.
Four other personal bests were turned in during Saturday’s events as Kelly added a PR of 31-2 in the shot put to her impressive 13.99 in the 100-meter hurdles, sophomore Hannah Bourque (18:00.24) and junior Ashley Welborn (18:24.35) finished fifth and eighth, respectively, in the women’s 5,000 meters and freshman Christian Miller jumped a wind-legal 23-8 ¼ (+2.0) for second place in the men’s long jump.
With their outdoor opener at the Louisiana Classics now in the books, the LSU Track & Field teams will break next weekend before returning to action at the 90th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays running March 30-April 1 at Mike A. Myers Stadium at the University of Texas. They will then play host to their first of three home meets of the outdoor season with the seventh-annual Battle on the Bayou meet scheduled for Saturday, April 8 at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium in Baton Rouge.