Track & Field Wins Men's Title at New Balance

 NEW YORK - Senior Brittani Carter set a new meet record in the women's high jump and the No. 2-ranked Tigers ran away with the men's team title Saturday to put an exclamation point onto the end of an outstanding weekend for the Tigers and Lady Tigers at the 2011 New Balance Collegiate Invitational held at the historic Armory Track & Field Center.

The Tigers snapped a five-year drought with their fourth team title all-time at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational and their first since the 2006 season when they took home their third-straight championship.

The men's team, which entered the weekend ranked No. 2 nationally in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Top 25 power ranking, took down the No. 3-ranked Texas A&M Aggies by a score of 97-80 in the final team standings. The Duke Blue Devils finished a distant third with 58 points.

The No. 3-ranked Lady Tigers finished in second place overall in the women's team standings with a total of 85 points. BYU won the women's title with 90.5 points, while Texas A&M placed third with 80 points.

"This was really great for our men's team to come in here and win a meet like this against this quality of a field," said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. "This is just one more step toward our goal of competing as a team at the championship meets. This is a big step we needed to take as a team. We need to keep charging ahead with each meet to put our men and our women in position to win a championship."
Carter added her name to a growing list of NCAA Indoor Championships qualifiers for the LSU track and field teams as she became the school's eighth entry into the meet by exceeding the automatic qualifying standard in the high jump with a New Balance Collegiate Invitational meet record.

Carter, who entered the meet with a previous lifetime personal best of 6 feet, ¾ inches set during the 2010 indoor season, easily cleared the bar at a height of 6-1 ¼ on her second attempt Saturday afternoon to become the first Lady Tiger in the meet's 13-year history to win the high jump championship.

Not only did Carter erase the previous meet record of 6-0 ½ set by Georgia's Hyleas Fountain in 2004 and Alabama's Miruna Mataoanu in 2007, but she pulled to within a quarter of an inch of Gai Kapernick's 18-year-old indoor school record of 6-1 ½ set way back in the 1993 season.

The Houston native is gunning for her fourth career All-America honor in the high jump as she now ranks No. 3 among collegians on the NCAA performance list for the 2011 campaign.

"I have missed that jump so many times, all I could think about when I made that final plant was I needed to clear it," Carter said. "That was it, and all I felt was the mat underneath me. I knew I had it in me all along. I just had to get the mechanics right. I was prepared to do something like this coming into this meet both mentally and physically. Now, I've got to get back to work and try to go even higher."

The Tigers wrapped up the team championship with a tremendous performance in the field events through Saturday's action as they combined to score 38 points between the weight throw and triple jump.

Defending NCAA Indoor champion Walter Henning extended his national lead in the weight throw with a seasonal-best mark of 72-7 on his very first attempt of the competition to finish as the top collegian. Professional thrower Jake Freeman of the New York Athletic Club finished atop the final standings with a top mark on the afternoon of 77-3 ¼ also recorded on his first throw.

Not only did Henning extend his national lead in the event, but he also ran his winning streak with the 35-pound weight throw to eight-straight appearances against collegiate competition dating back to the start of the 2010 indoor season. Henning is currently two feet clear of the rest of the NCAA on the national list.

Junior All-American Michael Lauro finished runner-up to Henning on Saturday as he established a best of 69-9 ½ to finish the meet ranked No. 4 nationally in the event. Senior Ross Roubion nearly set a personal best of his own with a top mark of 63-2 ¾ to finish in sixth place in the collegiate competition.

While the Tigers were busy padding their lead in the weight throw, they were also adding to their total for the meet in the triple jump as senior Zedric Thomas, junior Kyron Blaise and sophomore Damar Forbescombined to score 17 points in one of the deciding events for the team championship.

After hitting the NCAA automatic qualifying standard with a seasonal-best jump of 53-4 ½ last week with the Razorback Invitational, Blaise took home top honors among collegians with a top jump of 53-2 ¼ during the competition. Thomas finished in second place to Blaise with a seasonal-best attempt of 52-6 ¾, while Forbes added an eighth-place finish with a mark of 50-0 ¾.

"We knew coming in that we had to score big points in those two events if we stood a chance of capturing the team championship," Shaver said. "Those guys did what they had to do. They competed well all along and finished with a number of seasonal bests. That will be important for us as we move forward."

In the wake of a thrilling victory in the championship final of the men's 60-meter dash on Friday evening, juniorHoratio Williams returned to action looking to win the 200-meter dash title on Saturday.

Williams opened up by running the fastest time of the qualifying round with a time of 21.23 seconds for a win in the third of 10 preliminary heats before finishing in second place in the championship final to Texas A&M All-American Gerald Phiri (20.96) with an impressive run of 20.99. By running 20.99 during Saturday's final, Williams has now broken 21 seconds in all three 200-meter appearances in 2011.

The Lady Tigers featured two finalists of their own in the women's championship 200 meters while being led byKimberlyn Duncan (23.43) in third place and Semoy Hackett (23.72) in fifth place.

Senior All-American Brittany Hall continued LSU's momentum on the track as she took third place in the second of two final heats and third place overall in the women's 800-meter run with a seasonal-best time of 2 minutes, 6.41 seconds that ranks her as the No. 8 performer in the NCAA during the 2011 season.

The Tigers and Lady Tigers wrapped up the open events on the track Saturday afternoon with the running of the championship finals of the men's and women's 400-meter dash.

Junior Riker Hylton was the first to step onto the track for the first of two heats of the men's final after he qualified during Friday's preliminary round with the sixth-fastest time of the day at 48.29. Hylton responded in the final with a new indoor personal record of 46.99 to win his heat and finish runner-up this afternoon to event champion Errol Nolan of Houston, who took the title with a time of 46.46.

Fellow junior Cassandra Tate was the top Lady Tiger in the women's 400-meter final as she finished third with a time of 53.91. Junior Rebecca Alexander finished in sixth place with a new indoor PR of 54.47.

After Richard Chautin and Michael Florek each established new personal bests in the men's 5,000 meters on Friday afternoon, Lady Tiger sophomore Brea Goodman and Dakota Goodman continued that trend on Saturday morning with a pair of personal bests of their own in the women's college 5,000-meter run.

Brea Goodman recorded her lifetime personal best of 17:33.34 to earn a sixth-place finish with the No. 4-ranked performance on LSU's all-time indoor list, while her twin sister followed in seventh place with an impressive PR of her own and the No. 6-ranked performance on LSU's all-time indoor list at 17:36.18, an effort that is actually a more than 16-second improvement from her previous best.

The Tigers and Lady Tigers will return to action next weekend with their second trip in three weeks to the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Ark., as they compete in the prestigious Tyson Invitational to be held Feb. 11-12 on the campus of the University of Arkansas.