Laurent Sets Penn Relays Record, Wins Pole Vault

 PHILADELPHIA -- All-American pole vaulter Rachel Laurenthas been writing her name in record books week in and week out during her breakout freshman season at LSU, and she can now add the Penn Relays to her list after capturing the pole vault crown on Thursday with a meet record clearance of 13 feet, 10 ½ inches.

Laurent’s accomplishment comes just one year after teammate Katelyn Rodrigue became the first Lady Tiger to win the pole vault at the Penn Relays with a then school-record mark of 13-7 ¼.

Laurent already owns the LSU indoor and outdoor school records in the event with personal bests of 14-0 ½ indoors and 14-1 ¼ outdoors, while her outdoor seasonal best currently ranks her No. 3 in the NCAA this spring. She became the first LSU pole vaulter to earn All-America honors with a fifth-place finish in the event at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March.

Her clearance of 13-10 ½ on Thursday eclipses the previous Penn Relays meet record of 13-10 by Amy Linnen of Kansas in the 111th running of the relay carnival in 2005.

“That is a tremendous accomplishment for Rachel in a meet with this kind of history and this kind of tradition,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “That was a great performance by her, and she continues to show the kind of consistency we need heading into the championship meets. She has proven to be someone we can count on to perform when we need her the most.

“That is something we’re looking for from all of our athletes at this time of the season. We’ll now have the opportunity to come back tomorrow and continue to work toward that as a team. Just the way in which Rachel competed today is a great way for us to start this track meet.”

While Laurent cemented her place in Penn Relays history with her performance Thursday, LSU’s 4x100 and 4x400 relays advanced to Championship of America finals to be run this weekend.

The Lady Tigers kicked off the day by running the second-fastest prelim time in the 4x100-meter relay as the foursome of Monique CabralCassandra TateSamantha Henry and Kenyanna Wilson qualified with a time of 44.66 seconds. The squad will look to defend its Championship of America relay title in the event as the final is scheduled to run Friday at 12:10 p.m. CT.

The LSU women wrapped up the day’s events by qualifying for the final of the 4x400-meter relay as the team ofBrittany Hall, Tate, Kayann Thompson and LaTavia Thomas clocked the seventh-fastest time of the preliminary round at 3 minutes, 4.18 seconds.

Laurent was not the only Lady Tiger to win an event title on the day as Melissa Ogbourne jumped a wind-aided 20-0 ½ to win the college section of the women’s long jump.

“It was just a good day for us all around,” Shaver said. “Rachel got it going for us with the way in which she competed in the pole vault, and both of our relays advanced to the final like we thought they would. This is always a great experience for our athletes, and each one of them did what they needed to today. We now look forward to an exciting weekend.”

The action continues for LSU on Friday with the first events scheduled to get underway at 8 a.m. CT. In addition to running the final of the women’s 4x100-meter relay, three other Championship of America relay titles will be on the line during Friday’s action as LSU will run the finals of the women’s sprint medley relay and the men’s sprint medley and distance medley relays.