JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Nothing ever goes exactly right in a meet as highly competitive as the one the LSU track and field teams were involved in at the NCAA East preliminary rounds.
So there was some disappointment for LSU coach Dennis Shaver when All-American long jumper Nataliyah Friar, who was third at the NCAA indoor meet in March, had an off day Thursday and didn’t advance to nationals.
But at the end of the three-day meet, it was the only one Shaver could point to that marred an otherwise productive meet for the Tigers and Lady Tigers in the competition that determined who would advance to the NCAA championships next week in Eugene, Oregon.
The third-ranked men and eighth-ranked women had a total of 43 opportunities with 32 of them — 16 on each team — among the top 12 on the performance list this spring. National semifinal berths are awarded to the top-12 finishers in each event at the East and West preliminary rounds.
The Lady Tigers converted 13 of 16 chances and added another that was outside the top 12 going into the meet, while the Tigers were 11 of 16. That gives the LSU program a total of 25 opportunities to score points as they vie for high finishes at nationals June 10-13.
“Really, when you have that many opportunities going into this kind of meet, and to have everything go as well as it did, that’s a tribute to the focus of the athletes,” Shaver said.
Friar didn’t make it in the long jump, where she was ranked second in the East going into the meet, but she rebounded to earn a spot in the triple jump on Saturday night when the meet came to a close.
“That was the only (disappointment),” Shaver said. “That’s especially encouraging on the women’s side being as young as we are.
“A lot of those young women had to step up, and that says a lot about their preparation. We felt really good about that because a lot of them got a chance to go to Eugene.”
While the men’s team is laden with NCAA veterans like seniors Aaron Ernest, Vernon Norwood, Rodney Brown and Quincy Downing, all of whom were expected to get through, many women were new to it.
But freshmen Aleia Hobbs, Mikiah Brisco and Daeshon Gordon and sophomore Jada Martin came through in individual events and relays, while sophomores Rebekah Wales and Friar joined them from the field.
Hobbs and Brisco both advanced in the 100 meters and were part of the 4x100-meter relay team, along with Martin and sophomore Rushell Harvey, that had the second-fastest time at 43.14 seconds.
Gordon, like junior Chanice Chase, qualified in both the 100- and 400-meter hurdles and ran on the 4x400 relay, while Martin qualified in the 200 meters and also participated on the mile relay.
Wales had the third-longest javelin throw in the East and West prelims and Friar bounced back in the triple jump to advance.
Another bright spot for Shaver was the relays.
The Lady Tigers had the second-fastest time in the 4x100 and tied for eighth among all teams that qualified for nationals with a season’s-best time of 3 minutes, 30.74 seconds.
The Tigers recorded the fifth-fastest time in the 4x100 of the 24 teams that qualified for the NCAA championships, while the 4x400 team ran a 3:02.48, which was the top time of all teams in the East and West.
That, along with big performances by Norwood in the 400 and both relays and sophomore Tremayne Acy and Ernest in both the 100 and 200 meters and sprint relay were other encouraging signs for Shaver.
“Both the men and women responded really well at this meet, and that was good because we’re leaving this meet with lots of confidence,” he said. “At this stage of the season, it’s 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical, so I really like the way we improved and how we’re going to nationals.”
Qualifiers from LSU and state schools for the NCAA championships to be held June 10-13 in Eugene, Oregon (number in parentheses indicates national rank after NCAA East and West preliminary rounds; each event in the national semifinals has 24 qualifiers):
100: Aleia Hobbs, 11.41 (15); Mikiah Brisco, 11.45 (17).
200: Jada Martin, 22.94 (9).
100 hurdles: Daeshon Gordon, 13.10 (t7); Chanice Chase, 13.21 (t13).
400 hurdles: Chanice Chase, 57.51 (14); Daeshon Gordon, 57.52 (15).
800: Morgan Schuetz, 2:03.93 (13).
4x100 relay: LSU, Rushell Harvey, Aleia Hobbs, Jada Martin, Mikiah Brisco, 43.14 (2).
4x400 relay: LSU, Daeshon Gordon, Jada Martin, Travia Jones, Chanice Chase, 3:30.74 (t8).
Javelin: Rebekah Wales, 179-11 (3); Annie Simoneaux, 165-6 (9).
Shot put: Tori Bliss, 57-9¾ (1).
Triple jump: Nataliyah Friar, 41-11½ (t20).
100: Tremayne Acy, 10.18 (t14); Aaron Ernest, 10.21 (16).
200: Aaron Ernest, 20.22 (5); Tremayne Acy, 20.25 (6).
400: Vernon Norwood, 44.94 (1).
110 hurdles: Joshua Thompson, 13.74 (t13); Jordan Moore, 13.81 (21).
400 hurdles: Quincy Downing, 49.89 (3).
4x100 relay: LSU, Joshua Thompson, Vernon Norwood, Tremayne Acy, Aaron Ernest, 39.25 (5).
4x400 relay: LSU, Quincy Downing, Cyril Grayson, Fitzroy Dunkley, Vernon Norwood, 3:02.48 (1).
Discus: Rodney Brown, 201-2 (2).
200: Charla Craddock, Louisiana Tech, 23.27 (19).
Javelin: Ashley Aldredge, Northwestern State, 158-0 (19).
Hammer: Misha Frazier, Southeastern, 190-0 (t23).
4x100 relay: UL-Lafayette, Tyler Hughes, Hanoj Carter, Bismarck Ebiweh, Jeryl Brazil, 39.89 (22).
Hammer: Alex Young, Southeastern, 216-4 (9); Jonathan Kinchen, Southeastern, 212-7 (17).
Long jump: Jarrett Samuels, Louisiana Tech, 24-10 (21); Devon Breaux, Tulane, 24-9¾ (t22).