ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — LSU senior Aaron Ernest crossed the finish line as the new national leader in the 200-meter dash with a winning run of 20.66 seconds to pace the LSU track and field teams on Day 1 at the New Mexico Collegiate Classic.

Just one week after clocking 20.97 at Arkansas’ Razorback Invitational, Ernest sprinted into the NCAA title race with his performance at the Albuquerque Convention Center.

He crossed the finish line ahead of South Plains College’s Jereem Richards (21.06) with the fastest time by a collegian this season.

Because of the altitude in Albuquerque, Ernest’s time of 20.66 adjusts to a seasonal best of 20.73 to overtake the previous NCAA-leading duo of Texas A&M’s Shaves Hart and TCU’s Sam Watts, who were tied at 20.76.

“What a way to get us going here in New Mexico this weekend,” LSU coach Dennis Shaver said. “We continue to take the steps to where we need to be team-wise as we look ahead to the championship season. Aaron is running with a lot of confidence right now, and he pretty much assured himself a spot in the NCAA meet with his performance tonight.”

Men’s tennis

TIGERS HOST TWO TEAMS: The No. 42 LSU men’s tennis team hosts three matches against Alcorn State and Jackson State on Saturday at W.T. “Dub” Robinson Stadium.

LSU (4-1) will face Jackson State at 10 a.m. and noon. The Tigers will then go against Alcorn State at 4 p.m.

“It is important for us to keep building on the confidence we have achieved to this point,” coach Jeff Brown said. “The team has been doing everything with great energy from the warm ups into the matches. It has been a fun group to be around and we want to make sure nothing happens to detract from that.”

The long day of competition will allow for the Tigers to experiment with different lineups and give other players an opportunity to record wins.

“When you play three matches, you need to keep moving guys in and out,” Brown said. “We will have some people in different positions and they will be guys that have not gotten as much playing time. It is an opportunity for them.”


PANAMANIAN OLINDE JOINS TEAM: After signing the likes of Alex Thomas and Gabriela Maldonado to letters of intent Wednesday, the LSU soccer team added Jennifer Olinde to its roster for the 2015 spring season after the Panamanian Under-20 international enrolled for the spring semester in January.

A product of Colegio Episcopal de Panama in Panama City, Olinde is a member of the Under-20 Panamanian Women’s National Team player pool as one of her nation’s top young attacking talents.

Olinde, Thomas and Maldonado are part of a strike force that also returns the likes of 2013 second-ream All-SEC selection Summer Clarke and 2014 SEC all-freshman team member Jorian Baucom.