Track Teams Burn Up the Track at Alumni Gold

 BATON ROUGE -- With many of the nation’s premier athletes making the trip to Baton Rouge on Saturday to compete in the annual LSU Alumni Gold, the LSU track and field teams expected quite a show at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium in their final home meet of the 2009 season.

And that is exactly what those in attendance saw from the opening gun of the 4x100 relays all the way through the end of the meet with a world-class field on hand to compete.

“I’m very happy with the production of the meet this year because we were able to do quite a few things to keep everybody in the stands entertained all the way through that we haven’t been able to do in the past,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “It also doesn’t hurt to have the very best athletes in the world competing today. I thought we were able to put on a high-quality meet.”

The Tigers and Lady Tigers kicked off the afternoon with a pair of seasonal bests in the finals of the 4x100-meter relay as both ran neck and neck with the nation’s best.

In the women’s final, the Lady Tigers clocked the second-fastest time in the NCAA this season at 43.39 seconds. The foursome of senior Monique Cabral, freshman Cassandra Tate, junior Samantha Henry and sophomore Kenyanna Wilson finished second only to national leaders Texas A&M, which crossed the finish line with a winning time of 43.08.

The Tigers followed with a seasonal best performance of their own as senior Jeremy Hicks, junior Will Coppage, sophomore Gabriel Mvumvure and senior Trindon Holliday finished runner-up by the slimmest of margins with a time of 39.07, which ranks No. 3 in the NCAA this season.

Holliday took the stick on the anchor in fourth place in the race, but nearly ran down Texas A&M All-American Justin Oliver at the tape as the Aggies won the race with a time of 43.06.

“I don’t think we’re running the relay as good as we are capable of running it, but I do believe we are improving each time we step on the track,” Shaver said. “They’re developing a chemistry that we need to be successful in that event. While I don’t think we ran as fast as we’re capable, I think our exchanges were much better today and I know we will continue to improve.”

The finals of the men’s and women’s 100-meter dash also saw some excitement with the debut of a pair of LSU Olympians in the event this outdoor season.

LSU great Richard Thompson, who is the reigning Olympic silver medalist in the 100 meters and 4x100-meter relay from the games in Beijing this past summer, opened up his 2009 season with a time of 10.15 in his first 100-meter race of the spring.

Thompson returned to the track on which he cemented his place among the all-time greats to wear the LSU uniform by winning the event title over Holliday (10.19). However, the two did not race against one another on Saturday as Holliday won the first heat over Texas A&M All-American Gerald Phiri, who finished the race with a third-place effort of 10.21.

The women’s final saw Lady Tiger great and 2008 Olympian Kelly Baptiste run her first 100 race of the season, and she did not disappoint by clocking a winning time of 11.18 in her 2009 debut. LSU’s Samantha Henry followed in second place with a time of 11.33, while Texas A&M star Porscha Lucas finished third in the race at 11.37.

The finals of the women’s 800 meters also produced some of the fastest times in the NCAA so far this season with a pair of Lady Tigers running seasonal bests.

Senior Kayann Thompson ran the second-fastest time in the NCAA at 2 minutes, 4.25 seconds to win the event title and move up into the No. 8 spot on LSU’s all-time outdoor performance list in the event. Sophomore Brittany Hallqualified for the regional meet for the first time by clocking a personal best of 2:05.82 to rank No. 10 in the NCAA and No. 10 all-time at LSU.

The LSU throwers also enjoyed an outstanding weekend at the LSU Alumni Gold, led by Walter Henning’s school-record setting performance in the hammer competition on Friday night.

This marks the second week in a row that Henning has broken the school record in the event as he set a new personal best of 235 feet, 11 inches to capture the event crown. He finished more than 24 feet ahead of his nearest competitor as Adonson Shallow of Southeastern Louisiana University finished runner-up on the night with a fair mark of 211-6.

The sophomore from Kings Park, N.Y., is the reigning SEC Male Field Athlete of the Week after breaking the school record for the first time this season with a winning throw of 235-5 at the 30th Sun Angel Classic at Arizona State’s Sun Angel Stadium in Tempe last weekend.

With his performance on Friday, Henning strengthened his grip on the No. 1 ranking in the nation this season as Virginia Tech’s Marcel Lomnicky ranks No. 2 with a mark of 235-3.

In addition, two other Tigers also recorded new personal bests in the hammer as redshirt freshman Michael Lauroplaced third with a throw of 205-0 and sophomore Chris Bless followed in fifth place with a mark of 197-2 to strengthen their NCAA regional qualifying marks in the event.

The throws group continued that momentum into Saturday as freshmen Anthony Martel and Ryan Roubion each threw personal bests in the javelin to qualify for NCAA regional competition, and senior Adam Wilcox qualified for the first time with a seasonal-best performance in the shot put.

Martel shattered his previous personal best with his first throw of more than 200 feet in his career as he finished fourth in the competition with a throw of 209-7. Roubion broke his previous PR by more than 11 feet with a personal-best mark of 206-8 to finish sixth in the event final.

Wilcox will compete in NCAA regional competition for the second time in his career after taking fourth place in the shot put with a seasonal-best mark of 55-5.

“I think the job that the throws group has done this year has been outstanding. Those guys always seem to be getting better and better with each meet,” Shaver said. “Walter has kind of led the way this season, and he’s really throwing well so far outdoors in the hammer, but I’ve been impressed with the way the other guys have competed as well. Their performances this week show that.”

Senior Jeremy Hicks continues to show the form that earned him All-America honors indoors this season as he broke the 26-foot barrier for the third time in 2009 with a mark of 26-0 ¾ in the long jump competition. Hicks currently holds the No. 1 mark in the NCAA this season with a seasonal best jump of 26-1 ½ recorded at the LSU Tiger Relays on March 28.

Sophomore Melissa Ogbourne also enjoyed an outstanding performance in the jumps as she set a NCAA regional qualifying mark of 41-8 ½ to take fourth place in the invitational triple jump. She is now qualified to compete in the event at the regional meet for the first time this season.

Other LSU athletes to qualify for NCAA regional competition for the first time include freshman Robert Simmons in the 400 meters and junior Kristina Davis in the 100 meters.

Davis, who qualified for the regional meet in the 200 meters at the Sun Angel Classic a week ago, is now set to compete in the 100-meter dash as well after running a wind-aided time of 11.68 during Saturday’s action. Simmons followed by running an NCAA regional qualifier of 46.46 for his first 400-meter race of the outdoor season after earning All-America honors indoors in March.

With Saturday’s events now in the books, LSU has qualified a total of 43 athletes and four relays into the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships slated to run May 29-30 in Louisville, Ky.

The Tigers are among the national leaders by qualifying 23 individuals and both the 4x100-meter and 4x400-meter relays into the regional meet. The Lady Tigers have nearly matched that total as they have now qualified 20 individuals and both of their relay teams into the regional. The NCAA Mideast Regional Championships will be hosted by the University of Louisville.

LSU will wrap up its regular season next week as it travels to Philadelphia to compete in the 115th running of the Penn Relays as the meet will run April 23-25 at historic Franklin Field. The teams will open up the championship season in Gainesville, Fla., May 14-17 at the SEC Outdoor meet.

LSU’s Qualifiers for the 2009 NCAA Mideast Regional Championships (as of April 18)


Name, Event, Mark/Time
Chris Bless, Hammer Throw, 197-2
Mark DeBlanc, Javelin, 216-4
Josh Dominguez, Pole Vault, 16-6 ¾
Rabun Fox, Hammer Throw, 202-6
Reggie Haslom, Triple Jump, 51-0 ¼
Armanti Hayes, 400 meters, 46.79
Walter Henning, Hammer Throw, 235-11
Jeremy Hicks, Long Jump, 26-1 ½
Trindon Holliday, 100 meters, 10.12
Jamaal James, 800 meters, 1:48.86
Richard Jones, 800 meters, 1:48.85
Michael Lauro, Hammer Throw, 205-0
Patrick Lee, 400 hurdles, 51.52
Anthony Martel, Javelin, 209-7
Marcus McGehee, Pole Vault, 16-6 ¾
Barrett Nugent, 110 hurdles, 13.84w
Gabriel Mvumvure, 100 meters, 10.42w
Gabriel Mvumvure, 200 meters, 20.89
Ryan Roubion, Javelin, 206-8
Robert Simmons, 400 meters, 46.46
Zedric Thomas, Long Jump, 24-9 ¾
Zedric Thomas, Triple Jump, 50-11
Adam Wilcox, Shot Put, 55-5
Hicks, Coppage, Mvumvure, Holliday; 4x100 Relay; 39.07
Howard, Hayes, Alleyne-Forte, Simmons; 4x400 Relay; 3:05.97


Name, Event, Mark/Time
Monique Cabral, 100 meters, 11.62
Brittani Carter, High Jump, 6-0
Kristina Davis, 100 meters, 11.68w
Kristina Davis, 200 meters, 23.87
Brittany Hall, 800 meters, 2:05.82
Samantha Henry, 100 meters, 11.19
Samantha Henry, 200 meters, 23.27
Tenaya Jones, 100 hurdles, 13.28
Liann Kellman, 200 meters, 23.78
Brieanna Kennedy, Javelin, 151-6
Rachel Laurent, Pole Vault, 14-1 ¼
Anna Lyons, Javelin, 160-11
Melissa Ogbourne, Triple Jump, 41-8 ½ 
Katelyn Rodrigue, Pole Vault, 13-6 ¼ 
Cassandra Tate, 200 meters, 23.68
LaTavia Thomas, 800 meters, 2:04.48
Kayann Thompson, 800 meters, 2:04.25
Kim Williams, Hammer Throw, 190-11
Kenyanna Wilson, 100 meters, 11.31
Kenyanna Wilson, 200 meters, 23.45
Cabral, Tate, Henry, Wilson; 4x100 Relay; 43.39
Hall, Tate, Thompson, Thomas; 4x400 Relay; 3:31.81