DES MOINES, Iowa — As the final day of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships arrived Saturday, the LSU men and women were long shots to win the team titles in their respective divisions.
But that didn’t stop the third-ranked Lady Tigers and fourth-ranked Tigers from making some noise as the four-day competition came to an end at Drake Stadium.
Behind impressive individual performances by Kimberlyn Duncan and Barrett Nugent and strong efforts in the relays, the Lady Tigers and Tigers matched the rankings they had in the coaches’ power rankings going into the meet when they took third and fourth, respectively, in the team races.
Second-ranked Texas A&M won the meet’s final event, the 4x400-meter relay, to claim the women’s title for the third year in a row with 49 points, while top-ranked Oregon (45) and LSU (43?) followed.
On the men’s side, A&M also won the 4x400 relay and clinched the championship for the third straight season under former LSU coach Pat Henry with 55 points. Florida State (54) and Florida (53) were next, with LSU claiming fourth (46).
But LSU finished strong as Duncan and Nugent raced to individual titles and Duncan, a native of Katy, Texas, anchored the 4x100-meter relay team to a victory — snapping Texas A&M’s four-year winning streak in the event.
Duncan, who was second in the 100 meters final Friday night, and Kenyanna Wilson, Semoy Hackett and Rebecca Alexander ignited LSU’s final-day efforts when they won the first race of the day, the sprint relay, in 42.64 seconds.
It was the fifth-fastest time in school history and also was the second-fastest time run in the world so far this spring.
Wilson, Hackett and Alexander got the stick around to Duncan, who easily outran Texas A&M freshman Ashley Collier after they appeared to be even at the top of the stretch. A&M clocked in with a time of 42.93 seconds.
“We’ve been having trouble with exchanges this season,” said Alexander, “so our focus was to just get the baton around and get good exchanges.”
For Wilson, the victory was extra sweet because she was a freshman when A&M began its streak on the same track in 2008.
“Something like that is always in the back of your mind,” she said. “I was on that first relay when Texas A&M started that streak, so it feels really good to break that streak on my way out.”
That win turned out to be a good warm-up for Duncan, a sophomore who came back just 38 minutes later to win the 200 and give her a sweep of the NCAA titles at that distance this year.
Her time of 22.24 seconds was the fastest in the world this season, topping the 22.38 run by Allyson Felix on May 12. A&M’s Jeneba Tarmoh settled for second place with a time of 22.34, while Hackett ran sixth in 22.87.
“It’s just exciting,” Duncan said of winning two NCAA titles in less than an hour. “I was excited coming off the 4x100 win, so I was pumped and ready to go. I’m really excited.”
Duncan also won the indoor 200 in March at College Station, Texas, and, coupled with her win Saturday, became the first LSU female sprinter to take both 200 titles in the same year since Dawn Sowell in 1989.
Shortly after that, it was Nugent’s turn.
The junior from Maurice won the 110-meter hurdles with a wind-aided time of 13.28 seconds, giving him the elusive NCAA title he’s been chasing for a year. He was second in this meet a year ago and was the runner-up in the indoor 60 hurdles in March.
Nugent, a junior, lost both races to Illinois’ Andrew Riley, who came in second this time in 13.33 seconds, although each have won their share in the regular season.
“These conditions were the exact same thing we had at the Texas Relays,” said Nugent, who ran a wind-aided 13.19 in Austin, Texas. “There was a little wind behind our backs. I knew, if I tried to just run with these guys I would lose, so I knew I had to pick my knees up and get over the hurdles.”
LSU also scored big points when the 4x400 relay team of Robert Simmons, Ade Alleyne-Forte, Caleb Williams and Riker Hylton finished second in 3 minutes, 01.07 seconds — the second-fastest time in school history behind the collegiate record of 2:59.59 the Tigers ran in 2005.
Williams and Hylton had splits of 44.53 and 44.88 seconds, respectively.
Other LSU points came from Horatio Williams, who was third in the 200 in 20.41 seconds, and the 4x100 relay team of Nugent, Williams, Keyth Talley and Gabriel Mvumvure, which was fourth in 39.20 seconds.
“I just tried to come out and score as many points as I could for the team,” said Williams, who has missed practice time recently because of a hip flexor injury. “I knew I had to come out and run my all. But it was feeling fine.”