JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The LSU Track & Field teams enjoyed an outstanding day of qualifying in Thursday's opener of the 2012 NCAA East Preliminary Rounds as five Tigers and Lady Tigers moved on to the national semifinals in field-event action held at North Florida's Hodges Stadium.
Another 16 athletes advanced to national quarterfinals to be run on the track Friday as the 100-meter dash, 400-meter dash, 800-meter run and 400-meter hurdles will line up again on Day 2 in Jacksonville.
Senior Kyron Blaise and junior Damar Forbes each earned a spot in the NCAA semifinal in the long jump and senior Aaron Moore and freshman Jeremy Tuttleadvanced in the javelin with their top-12 finishes for the Tigers during Thursday's competition. Junior Brittany Porter was the first Lady Tiger to earn a spot in the national semifinals with her qualifying performance in the women's long jump.
The semifinal and final rounds of the 2012 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships will run June 6-9 at Drake Stadium on the campus of Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
"This meet is just a survival thing," said LSU head coachDennis Shaver following the opening day of the meet. "It's totally different than any other meet that we compete in during the season. There's not another meet we go to where the goal is to be top 12. You just try to get everybody you can to Des Moines."
Moore and Tuttle became the first Tigers to punch their ticket to Des Moines with their top-12 finishes for the men's javelin throw in the first event of this year's NCAA East Preliminary Rounds.
Moore posted a best mark of 218 feet, 8 inches on his sixth and final throw of the competition to move up from 16th place to 11th place in the final standings and secure his spot in the NCAA semifinal. Tuttle came up just one inch short of Moore's mark as he threw 218-7 on his second throw of the preliminary round to win the second flight with the 12th-best mark of the day to advance to his first national semifinal.
The Tigers then added two more All-America candidates to their roster making their trip to Des Moines in two weeks as Blaise and Forbes earned their spot in the long jump semifinal.
Forbes, the 2011 NCAA Outdoor and 2012 NCAA Indoor silver medalist, will compete for his first career NCAA long jump title after advancing from Thursday's qualifier with the third-best mark of the afternoon with a wind-aided effort of 25-4 on his fifth attempt. Blaise took the final qualifying spot into the national semifinal as his series-best of 24-10 on his second jump earned him a 12th-place finish.
Porter wrapped up the first day of qualifying with a personal-best performance in the women's long jump, as she soared 20-5 on her third attempt to move into eighth place after the preliminary round and advance to her first career NCAA semifinal with the ninth-best mark in six rounds of jumping on Thursday.
"Five have punched their ticket," Shaver said. "Getting 12th place at this meet is as good as first place. All you want to do is make it to Des Moines to give yourself a chance to score some points for the team. They did what they had to do to advance. We're very proud with their effort today."
While five LSU athletes advanced to the national semifinals in the field events, the squads combined for a total of 16 qualifiers in Thursday's prelims on the track for quarterfinals slated to run Friday.
Four Tigers advanced to the quarterfinal in both the 100-meter dash and 400-meter dash to highlight what proved to be a banner day for the nation's No. 4-ranked team. Freshman Aaron Ernest (10.42), sophomoreShermund Allsop (10.44), senior Keyth Talley (10.54) and sophomore Rynell Parson (10.58) each moved on in the 100 meters, while seniors Riker Hylton (46.28), Ade Alleyne-Forte (46.60) and Robert Simmons(46.65) joined a personal-best effort by freshman Quincy Downing (46.38) in the 400 meters.
In addition, junior Howard Shepard earned a spot in Friday's quarterfinal of the 800 meters with a time of 1 minute, 50.09 seconds in the final qualifying heat of the day.
The Lady Tigers featured six quarterfinalists in Thursday's preliminary action, led by heat wins for juniorKimberlyn Duncan (11.35) and senior Semoy Hackett (11.46) in the 100, senior Rebecca Alexander (52.70) in the 400 and junior Charlene Lipsey (2:06.42) in the 800 to lead the way. Also advancing for the quarterfinals were senior Jonique Day (52.83) in the 400 meters, senior Cassandra Tate (57.70) in the 400 hurdles and sophomore Takeia Pinckney (11.73) in the 100 meters.
"We just did what we needed to do for the most part in all of the other events," Shaver said. "We got quite a number of people through on the track, and they'll have another chance to run for us tomorrow."
Bliss just missed earning a trip to Des Moines with her 13th-place finish in the women's shot put as she set a lifetime PR of 51-7 ¼ on her second attempt of the preliminary round. Pitts posted a wind-legal PR with a series-best mark of 19-4 ¾ on her third attempt of the day for 28th place overall.
LSU kicks off the second day of competition at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds at 9 a.m. CT with the qualifying round of the men's hammer throw. The first round of the men's 110-meter hurdles starts up the action on the track at 4 p.m. with events running through 7 p.m. with the 200-meter prelims.
Fans are reminded that a live video stream of Friday's action at North Florida's Hodges Stadium will post at www.unfospreys.com. Fans can also receive live updates of both the Tigers and Lady Tigers competing at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds on Friday and Saturday by liking LSU Track & Field on Facebook and by following @LSUTrackField on Twitter throughout the weekend.
LSU's Qualifiers for the NCAA Championships Semifinals in Des Moines, Iowa
Note: All marks and places were achieved this weekend at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds
Name, Event, Time/Mark (Place)
Brittany Porter, Long Jump, 20-5 (9)