FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Running in a race with no margin for error, LSU’s Kimberlyn Duncan didn’t have the time to think about history in the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships on Friday night.
But Duncan had the time to make history, clocking in at 22.58 seconds in the 200 meters final on a fast Randal Tyson Track Center oval to claim her third consecutive national title at that distance.
No man or woman had ever won three straight NCAA indoor titles at 200 meters, a feat that gave Duncan five championships in her signature event when you throw in the outdoor crowns she captured the past two years.
“I think it’s going to hit me a little later when I get back to the hotel and see my family and it all sinks in,” said Duncan, who claimed The Bowerman last season as the nation’s top female collegian. “A lot of people have been talking about it lately; that I had a chance to make history.”
In doing so, Duncan scored the first points for top-ranked LSU, helping put the Lady Tigers in position to win their first NCAA indoor title since 2004 when the two-day meet ends Saturday night.
“I’m just excited to be here,” a smiling Duncan said. “It’s my senior year, so I wanted to go out with a bang.”
Did she ever.
Less than two weeks after recording the fastest time in the world this year with a 22.54 in winning the Southeastern Conference title on the same track, Duncan returned to run a seemingly-effortless 22.59 in the prelims and an hour later raced to the win in 22.58 seconds.
With Central Florida’s Aurieyall Scott running to her right, Duncan sized her up early and sped past her on the backstretch. Duncan then poured it on in the final 60 meters after Scott, who had the second-fastest time in the nation coming in, nearly pulled even at the top of the stretch.
“I knew she was good and so was (UCF’s) Octavious Freeman, and they were going to push me,” said Duncan. “I just knew that I had to continue to execute my race and do what I’m trained to do. I’m really blessed to be able to make history.”
Scott crossed the line in 22.71 seconds, while Freeman was third in 22.87.
Duncan’s victory produced the first 10 points of the meet for the Lady Tigers, putting them in a tie for fifth. Kansas leads with 20 points, while Central Florida (14) and Arizona State and Michigan (13 each) follow.
On the men’s side, host Arkansas has the lead with 30 points, followed by Texas Tech (18), Wisconsin (15) and Florida (14). LSU is sixth with 11 points.
Running three races in two hours, Duncan also qualified for the final in the 60 meters to be run Saturday with a time of 7.25 seconds in her prelim.
All told, LSU has seven chances to score on the final day of the meet.
“We’re battling,” LSU coach Dennis Shaver said. “Everybody advanced that we obviously felt would coming into the meet based on the consistency of their performances throughout the indoor season.
“I’m happy with the position we’re in right now. We’ve done just about all we could do. We’re in the hunt, and we wanted to have that chance to make things happen (Saturday). We’ve positioned ourselves to make a run at the title, but so have at least two or three other teams.”
In addition to Duncan having a shot to score big points in the 60, Jasmin Stowers advanced in the 60 hurdles in 8.11 seconds, and Charlene Lipsey and Natoya Goule, who were 1-2 in the nation in the 800 coming into the meet, advanced to the final with times of 2 minutes, 05.02 seconds and 2:05.68.
The Lady Tigers will also have two competitors in the triple jump and a 4x400-meter relay to close the meet.
“I feel really good about the position we’re in right now,” said Shaver. “At a meet like this, no one is going to have everything go 100 percent right.”
On the men’s side, the 15th-ranked Tigers picked up 11 points.
Damar Forbes was second in the long jump with a personal-best of 26 feet, 111/4 inches, which put him in second place on LSU’s all-time list ahead of Olympian Walter Davis, and Aaron Ernest was sixth in the 200 meters final in 20.72.
“Damar has done just a great job,” Shaver said after Forbes’ third straight runner-up finish at the NCAA meet. “He’s probably disappointed he didn’t win, but that’s a personal best and it puts him in some pretty good company right there with Walter Davis.”
The Tigers have one scoring opportunity Saturday with the 4x400 relay team trying to add to their total in the final event of the competition.