LEXINGTON, Ky. — As the third day of the Southeastern Conference track and field championships closed late Saturday afternoon, LSU coach Dennis Shaver had reason to smile.
Looking for some warmth from a setting sun after another chilly and windy day, Shaver quickly accomplished that before turning his attention to some of his team’s better performances in Saturday’s prelims as well as a handful of finals.
Conditions improved slightly from the previous evening, which helped the Lady Tigers and Tigers add a few more qualifiers to the ones they pick up Friday night — despite the challenges they faced from the unusually-cool weather — for Sunday’s finals.
“I think we’ve done everything we can to position ourselves for a good team finish,” Shaver said. “We’ve got some relays and some other important things coming (Sunday). So it’ll be interesting to see if everybody can get in there and battle for points.”
LSU added to its list of three qualifiers on each side Friday night by advancing five Tigers and three Lady Tigers on Saturday, scoring some points in the field along the way.
The big events were the men’s 400 meters and women’s 100-meter hurdles, which produced three finalists for the Tigers and Lady Tigers.
Vernon Norwood and Aaron Ernest led the way for the Tigers with Norwood easily winning his heat of the 400 in 45.99 seconds, while Ernest, who will compete in the 200 Sunday as well, won his 100 heat in 10.17 seconds.
Norwood will have company in the 400 as Quincy Downing, who earned a spot in the 400 hurdles final Friday, came back to win his heat of the open 400 in 46.65 seconds after Cyril Grayson shaved a half-second off his personal record in running second in his heat at 46.49.
“When you get three guys through in the 400 in a really competitive meet like this, you’re doing some good things,” Shaver said. “I’m really proud of Cyril to PR by a half-second on not such a great day.”
Grayson followed Texas A&M’s Deon Lendore, an NCAA champion who posted a time of 45.34 seconds, to the finish line before Norwood posted the second-fastest time of the Day 2 heats later.
Norwood, who was edged by Lendore in the 400 final at the NCAA indoor meet in March, may have run a little faster had he not shut it down 250 meters into his race — knowing all he had to do was win the heat to advance.
“I just did my part and everything else came easy,” said Norwood, who made up the stagger on all the other runners by the 200-meter mark.
Ernest’s time was slightly wind-aided, but it mattered little to him. Just being able to run and win his heat in the 100 and 200 was big after being injured for most of the indoor and outdoor seasons.
“I feel good so far,” he said after posting the fastest time of the five heats in the 100. “This week, I started feeling that I was back to being 100 percent. I feel like I have fresh legs and the key was getting out fast and relaxing.”
Also qualifying for a final Saturday was Joshua Lamers, who advanced with a time of 13.95 in the 110 hurdles.
The Tigers also picked up their first points of the meet on Rodney Brown’s third-place finish in the discus. Brown, who won the event last year, led going into the final at 200 feet, 4 inches. But he was passed by Kentucky’s Andrew Evans (210-3) and Alabama’s Hayden Reed (209-1) in a competition that featured three of the top four discus throwers in the NCAA this spring.
“I felt really good, but it just felt like everything was going out to the right side of the (throwing area),” said Brown, who broke a 25-year-old school record last month with a throw of 210-10. “I knew 200 feet wasn’t going to win today in one of the best discus fields probably ever in the SEC.
“There was a little pressure in the final, but I felt like I could do it. … I just didn’t get it done.”
The Lady Tigers picked up some key points Saturday when Rebekah Wales took fourth in the javelin (164-10), Keri Emanuel was fifth in the long jump (20-61/4) and Tori Bliss was fifth in the shot put (53-1).
Jasmin Stowers had the third-fastest time of the day in the 100 hurdles at 12.99 seconds, while Chanice Chase and Mariah Georgetown joined her in the final.
Chase recorded a personal-best at 13.37 seconds, while Georgetown, who was returning from a hamstring injury suffered in late April, earned a spot in the final with a time of 13.40 seconds.
One of the most-anticipated events of the four-day meet will come Sunday afternoon when the men’s 4x100-meter relay is contested. The three-fastest teams in the nation this spring will hook up with Florida (38.29), Texas A&M (38.30) and LSU (38.83) vying for the title that the Tigers won last year. … Stowers, hammer throwers Denise Hinton and Karen Henning, distance runner Michelle Mobley and men’s pole vaulter Jaora Johnson completed their degree requirements this spring, but couldn’t attend graduation Friday because they were competing this weekend. … Former Lady Tigers Muna Lee and Charlene Lipsey graduated Friday, along with two members of this year’s team — Annie Simoneaux and William Wiesler. … Texas A&M’s Kamaria Brown, a Baton Rouge native, qualified for the finals in the 200 and 400. She won her preliminary heat in both, taking the 200 Friday night with a time of 23.29 seconds and the 400 on Saturday with a 53.02.
SEC Track and Field results
Team standings (after 9 of 21 events): 1, Arkansas, 77. 2, Georgia, 541/2. 3, Missouri, 51. 4, Florida, 391/2. 5, LSU, 291/2. 6, Mississippi State, 18. 7, Auburn, 14. 8, South Carolina, 131/2. 9, Kentucky, 13. 10, tie, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt, 11. 12, Alabama, 10. 13, Tennessee, 6. 14, Ole Miss, 3.
3,000 steeplechase: 1, Grace Heymsfield, Arkansas, 9:57.14. 2, Cornelia Griesche, Miss. State, 10:00.58. 3, Jessica Kamilos, Arkansas, 10:08.73. 4, Courtney Wood, Missouri, 10:21.32. 5, Katelyn Greenleaf, Alabama, 10:22.02. 6, Rebecca Chandler, Vanderbilt, 10:23.17. 7, Susan Rachel Givens, Auburn, 10:26.25. 8, Amira Joseph, Vanderbilt, 10:31.99.
Javelin: 1, Fawn Miller, Florida, 187-4. 2, Marija Vucenovic, Florida, 178-10. 3, Freya Jones, Georgia, 169-8. 4, Rebekah Wales, LSU, 164-10. 5, Hailey Twietmeyer, Missouri, 160-8. 6, Mayme Cook, LSU, 156-5. 7, Amethyst Boyd, Arkansas, 154-7. 8, Kendall Munoz, Texas A&M, 152-0.
Long jump: 1, Rochelle Farquharson, Miss. State, 21-21/2. 2, Robin Reynolds, Florida, 20-101/2. 3, Chanice Porter, Georgia, 20-91/4. 4, Tamara Myers, Arkansas, 20-73/4. 5, Keri Emanuel, LSU, 20-61/4. 6, Nataliyah Friar, LSU, 20-33/4. 7, Alexis Murphy, South Carolina, 20-1/4. 8, Jennifer Madu, Texas A&M, 19-91/2.
High jump: 1, Leontia Kallenou, Georgia, 6-11/4. 2, Sarah Graham, South Carolina, 5-93/4. 3, tie, Taylor Burke, Florida, and Kristen Hesseltine, Arkansas, 5-93/4. 5, tie, Camille Hayes, Missouri, and Brionne Williams, Vanderbilt, 5-73/4. 7, Shinelle Proctor, Missouri, 5-73/4. 8, tie, Lynnika Pitts, LSU, and Taina Laporte, Ole Miss, 5-73/4.
Shot put: 1, Jill Rushin, Missouri, 56-43/4. 2, Kearsten Peoples, Missouri, 56-4. 3, Valentina Muzaric, Auburn, 55-1. 4, Rachel Dincoff, Auburn, 54-2. 5, Tori Bliss, LSU, 53-1. 6, Aslynn Halvorson, Tennessee, 52-51/2. 7, Katie Evans, Missouri, 52-41/2. 8, Brea Garrett, Texas A&M, 50-81/4.
Pole vault: 1, Sandi Morris, Arkansas, 14-9. 2, Danielle Nowell, Arkansas, 13-111/4. 3, Ariel Voskamp, Arkansas, 13-111/4. 4, Katrine Haarklau, Missouri, 13-71/4. 5, tie, Sarah Bell, Vanderbilt, and Heather Green, Missouri, 13-11/2. 7, tie, Petra Olsen, South Carolina, and Megan Zimlich, Arkansas, 13-11/2.
Team standings (after 6 of 21 events): 1, Georgia, 52. 2, Arkansas, 51. 3, Alabama, 29. 4, Texas A&M, 25. 5, Kentucky, 21. 6, tie, Florida and Ole Miss, 11. 8, Auburn, 10. 9, LSU, 6. 10, tie, Missouri, Tennessee and South Carolina, 5. 13, Mississippi State, 3.
3,000 steeplechase: 1, Stanley Kebenei, Arkansas, 8:40.98. 2, Isaac Spencer, Texas A&M, 8:53.77. 3, Niklas Buhner, Auburn, 8:54.60. 4, Mackay Wilson, Kentucky, 9:00.39. 5, Charlie Sparks, Georgia, 9:01.95. 6, Raymond Joseph, Arkansas, 9:05.01. 7, Sam Dickerson, Missouri, 9:06.64. 8, Parker Deuel, Alabama, 9:07.37.
Long jump: 1, Raymond Higgs, Arkansas, 26-3/4. 2, Jarrion Lawson, Arkansas, 26-0. 3, Anthony May, Arkansas, 25-81/4. 4, Ricky Robertson, Ole Miss, 25-31/2. 5, Phillip Young, Ole Miss, 24-11. 6, Kamal Fuller, Alabama, 24-10. 7, Josh McCullan, Alabama, 24-93/4. 8, Olabanji Asekun, Texas A&M, 24-91/4.
Discus: 1, Andrew Evans, Kentucky, 210-3. 2, Hayden Reed, Alabama, 209-1. 3, Rodney Brown, LSU, 200-4. 4, Tavis Bailey, Tennessee, 197-0. 5, Joe Williams, Alabama, 184-1. 6, Dalton Rowan, Texas A&M, 183-4. 7, Tautvydas Kieras, Miss. State, 180-5. 8, Marcus Popenfoose, Auburn, 179-2.