STARKVILLE, Miss. — After battling a sore shoulder recently, LSU’s Rebekah Wales had a different kind of feeling going into the javelin at the Southeastern Conference track and field championships Saturday.
On her first throw, Wales uncorked a personal record of 177 feet and hung on to win by just three inches over Georgia’s Freya Jones, who had a 176-9.
“I was really ready,” Wales said. “I’ve been dreaming about (the meet) a lot the last few days, and I was feeling real good coming in. I just had that feeling.”
Wales, a sophomore, bettered her old PR of 176-5, which she set in finishing third at the Texas Relays in late March. Five of her six throws Saturday traveled at least 164 feet with her last attempt going 175-0.
After taking the early lead, there were anxious moments considering Jones and Florida’s Fawn Miller certainly had the capability of passing her on any throw.
“I just went for it on the first throw,” Wales said. “I was concerned and was thinking on every throw someone could pass me, so I had to keep that competitiveness in me.”
It was the first javelin title for the Lady Tigers at the SEC meet since Maria Romero won in 2004.
The women’s 4x100-meter relay, which was won by national leader Texas A&M in 42.61 seconds, turned out to be a special treat for the fans Saturday.
While the Aggies set an SEC record with their time, the three teams that chased them to the finish line all clocked under 43 seconds — a rarity.
In fact, in the first 34 SEC women’s meets dating to 1981, only one school had ever gone under 43 seconds with LSU clocking a 42.80 in 2008.
On Saturday, Florida was second at 42.72, while LSU and Kentucky were next at 42.80 and 42.85 — times that were all good enough to win in most years.
Back in business
Wales’ victory was the first of three for LSU on Saturday, just a year after the Tigers and Lady Tigers did not visit the top step on the awards stand at the conference outdoor meet in Lexington, Kentucky.
Last year marked the first time in 32 seasons that LSU didn’t win an event at the SEC outdoor meet in either the men’s or women’s divisions. That streak started back in 1982.
In addition to Wales, Rodney Brown won the discus and Julian Parker raced to a win in the 800 meters.
LSU athletes will compete in the NCAA East preliminary rounds on May 28-30 at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida.
Survivors from those two rounds will advance to the national semifinals and finals to be held June 10-13 in Eugene, Oregon.
LSU freshman Aleia Hobbs had a tight hamstring and was scratched from the women’s 100 meters final, which was run after the first of two weather delays that totaled 1 hour and 33 minutes. … Texas A&M’s Kamaria Brown, a McKinley High graduate, took second in the 200 meters with a time of 22.64 seconds. She also ran the third leg on the winning 4x100 relay. … ESPNU will air a two-hour highlight show of the three-day championship meet on Thursday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter @MicklesAdvocate.