JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Defending NCAA champion and Bowerman Award candidate Kimberlyn Duncan set the track on fire in Saturday's finale at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds as she crushed her own low-altitude collegiate record in the 200-meter dash to lead 12 semifinal qualifiers on the final day of competition at Hodges Stadium at the University of North Florida.
On a calm and cool Saturday evening in Jacksonville, Duncan blew away the competition to cross the line in 22.22 seconds to win the first quarterfinal heat and cruise into the NCAA semifinals.
That performance eclipsed her previous personal record and low-altitude collegiate record of 22.24 posted in winning the NCAA Outdoor crown as a sophomore just one year ago. It also moved her to No. 2 on the NCAA's all-time wind-legal list as former Lady Tiger national champion Dawn Sowell set the all-altitude collegiate record of 22.04 at altitude in Provo, Utah, at the 1987 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
While running with only the slightest of tailwinds at 0.1 meters per second, Duncan also became the 2012 world leader in the 200-meter dash, surpassing the previous world-leading 22.31 (+1.5) by Carmelita Jeter at the Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational in Westwood, Calif., on April 14.
A native of Katy, Texas, Duncan has shown tremendous form as the defending NCAA 200-meter champion as she is now a national semifinalist in both the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes with her performance for the weekend at the 2012 NCAA East Preliminary Rounds in Jacksonville.
Both 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.
All athletes earning a top-12 finish in their respective events this weekend for the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds have earned a berth into the national semifinals beginning in 11 days.
"No, I did not," Duncan said when asked if she expected to run a personal best in Saturday's quarterfinals at Hodges Stadium. "I'm just trying to qualify for the next round. The goal at this meet is to just get to the next round and score points for my team at nationals. It just felt like a normal race. I'm really excited with the way I ran my race, and am now ready for nationals. That's what we've been working for all year."
Four other LSU sprinters set personal records in the quarterfinals of the 200-meter dash in the finale at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds, including senior Semoy Hackett and freshman Aaron Ernest to move on with Duncan to the NCAA semifinals in the event in Des Moines.
After Duncan broke her own low-altitude collegiate record to win the first quarterfinal heat, Hackett raced to a wind-legal PR of 22.55 to win the second heat with the NCAA's No. 2-ranked time in 2012. Her time of 22.55 also ranks No. 9 for the world list for 2012 and No. 9 on LSU's all-time outdoor performance list in the event as she advances to the national semifinal for the second-straight season.
"I've felt much better running (the 200 meters) this week. I knew I had it in me," Hackett said. "I'm really happy because we've been training hard. We were ready to run well today. We're working hard to get that NCAA championship for our team. That's what we all really want this year."
Ernest led a trio of Tigers setting PRs in the quarterfinal round of the men's 200-meter dash after claiming fourth place in the second heat with his run of 20.54 (+0.5).
Ernest, a product of Homewood High School in Homewood, Ala., advanced to the national semifinal with the top at-large time of the evening while setting a personal best for the second-straight day. He moved on to the quarterfinal round with a 20.61 clocking in the first round of qualifying on Friday. He also qualified for the 100-meter semifinal with his performance in Friday's quarterfinal round.
Also running personal bests in the event in Saturday's finale was senior Keyth Talley with a time of 20.70 (+1.0) for fourth place in the third heat and 13th place overall and sophomore Shermund Allsop in his time of 20.71 (+0.2) for fourth place in the first heat and 15th place overall.
"It feels good," Ernest said when asked to describe his feelings of running a 200-meter PR. "I just came in focused on this meet, just trying to do what I needed to do to move on to the next round. We have a really great program at LSU, and I just try to do what the coaches tell me and trust what they say."
It didn't take long for the track to heat up with the start of Saturday's quarterfinals, as the Tigers and Lady Tigers each advanced to the national semifinals with their heat in the 4x100-meter relays.
The No. 1-ranked Lady Tigers cruised to an easy win in the second women's quarterfinal with the leading time of the day at 43.26 to finish nearly one second ahead of Louisiana Tech's school-record run of 44.11. Taking the heat victory for the women in their first quarterfinal race of the afternoon was the foursome of sophomoreTakeia Pinckney, Hackett, senior Rebecca Alexander and Duncan.
The Tigers won the second quarterfinal of the men's 4x100 relay when the team of senior Barrett Nugent, Ernest, Talley and Allsop crossed the finish line in 39.61 for the fourth-fastest time of the afternoon.
Nugent, the defending NCAA champion in the 110-meter hurdles, then returned to the track just moments later to run in the third quarterfinal heat of the men's sprint hurdles. He took second place in the heat with the fourth-fastest time of the day at 13.50 to give himself an opportunity to defend his national crown.
Two Lady Tigers also advanced to the national semifinals in the sprint hurdles on Saturday, as sophomoreJasmin Stowers and junior Shanekia Hall earned their first trip to Des Moines as Lady Tigers. Stowers ran 13.03 (+0.5) to finish second in the third heat with the fourth-fastest time of the day, and Hall ran her new personal best of 13.11 (+0.6) for fourth in the second heat with the eighth-best time of the day.
Tiger freshman Andreas Duplantis opened Saturday's finale at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds with a personal-best performance in the men's pole vault as he earned his trip to Des Moines with a top-12 finish in the event. After clearing the bar at 15 feet, 11 ¾ inches with his first attempt, Duplantis followed with a first-attempt clearance at 16-5 ½, a second-attempt clearance at 16-11 ½ and a first-attempt clearance with the bar at 17-3 ½ before it was raised to a height of 17-5 ½.
And when he was down to his final jump with two misses at 17-5 ½, Duplantis soared over the bar for his third and final attempt to secure a spot in his first national semifinal. That performance also moved him to the No. 9 spot on LSU's all-time outdoor performance list in the men's pole vault.
Junior Thomas Reinecke cleared 16-11 ½ to tie for 20th place, while junior Joseph Caraway posted a mark of 16-5 ½ to tie for 27th place and sophomore Jaora Johnson cleared 15-11 ¾ to tie for 38th place.
Senior Brieanna Kennedy followed with an eighth-place finish of her own in the women's hammer, as she qualified for the quarterfinal with a top mark of 186-5 on her third attempt, before improving with her two back-to-back marks of 195-5 in the fourth round and 198-2 in the fifth round of the competition. She'll be competing in the NCAA semifinals in the hammer throw for the second-straight season.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers put the exclamation point onto the end of this year's NCAA East Preliminary Rounds as each raced to heat wins with the fastest times of the day in the 4x400-meter relays.
The Tigers were the first to step onto the track for the men's quarterfinal and won the third heat with their seasonal-best time of 3 minutes, 3.20 seconds as freshman Quincy Downing (46.68), senior Robert Simmons (45.49), senior Ade Alleyne-Forte (45.57) and senior Riker Hylton (45.46) finished ahead of the team from Penn State (3:03.57). Each also qualified for the semifinals in the 400 meters on Friday.
The Lady Tigers followed by winning the first heat of the women's quarterfinal with a time of 3:30.05 for the fastest time of the day as junior Latoya McDermott (53.71), senior Rebecca Alexander (52.11), seniorCassandra Tate (52.57) and senior Jonique Day (51.64) finished ahead of Clemson's 3:33.14.
"What else can you really say with the way our teams competed this weekend? There's nothing else I can say but that we did everything we could possibly do here this weekend to give us an opportunity to go out and compete for a national championship in Des Moines," said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. "I'm very proud with the effort our kids showed in each of the three days we were here to give us that chance.
"We saw so many breakthrough performances this weekend from both of our teams. But this only the end of the third day of a seven-day NCAA Championship. We really need to compete with that same intensity and sense of urgency when we line it up for the first time in Des Moines."
With the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds now in the books, the Tigers will now compete 12 events while advancing 17 entries into the national semifinals when they make their trip to Des Moines, while the Lady Tigers will also compete in 12 events with 16 semifinalists at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
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)
Ade Alleyne-Forte, 400 Meters, 46.22 (10)
Kyron Blaise, Long Jump, 24-10 (12)
Kyron Blaise, Triple Jump, 51-11 (4)
Quincy Downing, 400 Meters, 46.18 (9)
Andreas Duplantis, Pole Vault, 17-5 ½ (T8)
Aaron Ernest, 100 Meters, 10.29 (10)
Aaron Ernest, 200 Meters, 20.54 (8)
Damar Forbes, Long Jump, 25-4w (3)
Riker Hylton, 400 Meters, 45.89 (6)
Michael Lauro, Hammer, 211-2 (7)
Aaron Moore, Javelin, 218-8 (11)
Barrett Nugent, 110 Hurdles, 13.50 (4)
Howard Shepard, 800 Meters, 1:47.87 (5)
Robert Simmons, 400 Meters, 46.05 (8)
Jeremy Tuttle, Javelin, 21807 (12)
Nugent, Ernest, Talley, Allsop; 4x100 Relay; 39.61 (4)
Downing, Simmons, Alleyne-Forte, Hylton; 4x400 Relay; 3:03.20 (1)
Name, Event, Time/Mark (Place)
Rebecca Alexander, 400 Meters, 51.89 (2)
Jonique Day, 400 Meters, 52.11 (4)
Kimberlyn Duncan, 100 Meters, 11.18 (1)
Kimberlyn Duncan, 200 Meters, 22.22 (1)
Semoy Hackett, 100 Meters, 11.31 (3)
Semoy Hackett, 200 Meters, 22.55 (2)
Shanekia Hall, 100 Hurdles, 13.11 (8)
Brieanna Kennedy, Hammer, 198-2 (8)
Rachel Laurent, Pole Vault, 13-5 ¼ (7)
Charlene Lipsey, 800 Meters, 2:04.08 (2)
Brittany Porter, Long Jump, 20-5 (9)
Samia Stokes, Discus, 169-6 (8)
Jasmin Stowers, 100 Hurdles, 13.03 (4)
Cassandra Tate, 400 Hurdles, 56.40 (2)
Pinckney, Hackett, Alexander, Duncan; 4x100 Relay; 43.26 (1)
McDermott, Alexander, Tate, Day; 4x400 Relay; 3:30.05 (1)