FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Lining up for the final indoor 400 meters race of his college career Saturday night, LSU’s Vernon Norwood made sure it would be a memorable one.
Norwood wasn’t one of the favorites to claim the title at the NCAA indoor championships, especially with Florida’s Najee Glass and Texas A&M’s Deon Lendore in the field, but that mattered little to the Morgan City native.
Norwood outran Glass, who had the nation’s fastest time this season, in the first heat of a two-section final, then watched as Lendore, the defending champion, couldn’t match his time in the second heat at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
Norwood raced to an indoor personal best of 45.31 seconds, the second-fastest time in school history and 10th-fastest in collegiate history, to take the title over A&M’s Bralon Taplin (45.55), Glass (45.77) and Lendore (45.81).
The win highlighted the final day of the NCAA championships for LSU and helped the eighth-ranked Tigers tie for seventh with 19 points.
The 15th-ranked Lady Tigers also got into the top 10, scoring 18 points to tie for ninth.
The big one was the win by Norwood, who finished second to Lendore at the NCAA indoor meet last year and was third at the outdoor championships.
“I just felt I executed better than I did last year being in that same position,” Norwood said Saturday. “It just shows the work and the execution I did, and the preparation I had helped me to come out on top.
“Being in the same position a year ago was really nerve-wracking for me. I was really upset that I didn’t put it out there in the first heat. This meet, I just came out here with the right preparation.”
In claiming the third 400 meters title for LSU and first since Xavier Carter won in 2006, Norwood came up just shy of Carter’s school-record time of 45.28.
LSU had two other top finishes Saturday as Aaron Ernest was fourth in the 200 meters final with a time of 20.76 seconds and Quincy Downing, who ran in the same 400 heat as Norwood and clocked in at 46.13 seconds for fifth.
Oregon defended its title with 74 points, while Florida (50), Arkansas (39), Texas A&M (33) and Texas Tech (31) rounded out the top five.
In the women’s team race, Arkansas ended Oregon’s five-year title run by out-scoring the Duck 63-46½, followed by Georgia (37), Florida (36) and Kentucky (35).
After LSU’s Nataliyah Friar finished third in the long jump Friday, Tori Bliss took second in the shot put and freshman Mikiah Brisco was fifth in the 60 meters final on Saturday.
Bliss broke her own school record twice and matched her second-place finish at the 2014 NCAA outdoor meet with a final throw of 60 feet, 7¼ inches, while Brisco was fifth in the 60 with a time of 7.25 seconds, just off the personal-best 7.23 she ran in Friday’s prelims.