FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The third-ranked LSU women’s track team positioned itself for a title run at the 2013 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships with a trio of top-five performances during Saturday’s finale at the Tyson Invitational held at Arkansas’ Randal Tyson Track Center.
Two Lady Tigers solidified their NCAA qualification as Kimberlyn Duncan and Lynnika Pitts each set personal records with runner-up finishes in their invitational events.
The Lady Tigers also wrapped up the meet with a third-place finish in the invitational 4x400-meter relay while slashing nearly three seconds from their previous seasonal-best and locking up a top-five national ranking.
The LSU women emerged from the weekend with a total of 10 performances that rank among the NCAA’s Top 10 for 2013.
After jumping into second place with a mark of 41 feet, 10 inches on her second attempt, Pitts added to her mark with a jump of 42-2 on her third attempt before jumping to a new best of 43-1 on her fourth attempt to lock up second place.
The Lady Tigers had a seasonal-best performance in the 4x400 relay as Siedda Herbert (54.36), Duncan (53.23), Montenae Roye-Speight (53.15) and Natoya Goule (53.17) ran the NCAA’s No. 4-ranked relay of the year at 3:33.91 for third place behind the national leaders from Texas (3:30.95) and runner-up Arkansas (3:31.78).
Duncan saw her run of 18 straight collegiate victories in the 200-meter dash come to an end, despite racing to an indoor personal best in the event. Central Florida’s Aurieyall Scott won with a time of 22.68 seconds, while Duncan claimed second place with a PR of 22.72. It marked Duncan’s first collegiate defeat at 200 meters in more than two years.
Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake continued his progression as one of the NCAA’s rising sprint stars as he raced into the Top 20 of the national rankings, winning his heat with the fourth-fastest time of the day at 21.08.
Also running indoor personal bests for the Tigers in Saturday’s 200-meter sections were freshmen Darrell Bush (21.43) and Cyril Grayson (21.89).
LSU’s Fitzroy Dunkley set a pair of personal bests in the men’s high jump (6-9) and triple jump (48-10¼).
Pole vaulters Thomas Reinecke and Andreas Duplantis recorded first-attempt clearances at 16-9 ¼ and 17-3 before going out at 17-9 to tie for fifth.
Also running indoor personal bests for the Tigers during Saturday’s finale were sophomore Philip Primeaux (8:36.11) and junior William Wiesler (8:45.68) in the 3,000 meters.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers return home to host to the LSU Twilight meet on Friday at the Carl Maddox Field House in Baton Rouge.
LADY TIGERS LOSE 5-2 TO LONG BEACH STATE: In Long Beach, Calif., the LSU women’s tennis team (4-1) lost 5-2 to Long Beach State (3-1) Saturday at the Rhodes Tennis Center.
“Today came down to a lot of fundamentals,” LSU coach Julia S. Sell said. “I give credit to Long Beach State. They’re a great team. The hardest thing about being a developing team is finding the confidence in fighting through. We faced some of that today, and it cost us the match.”
The doubles team of Mary Jeremiah and Ariel Morton earned the first win of the day, as the duo notched their fourth consecutive doubles victory and third straight in the top position, with an 8-4 win over Long Beach’s Klaudia Malenovska and Sarah Cantlay.
The next two doubles matches went to Long Beach, giving the 49ers the doubles point. The senior duo of Keri Frankenberger and Ebie Wilson fell 8-4 on court two to Long Beach’s Ebba Unden and Karolina Rozenberg, and Kaitlin Burns and Caroline Hudson faced an 8-4 loss on court three to the 49ers Hazuki Onaga and Anne-Sophie Willems.
A series of Long Beach singles wins clinched the match for the 49ers, as Hudson faced a 6-2, 6-2 loss against Long Beach’s Rozenberg on court five, freshman Ella Taylor fell 6-3, 6-0 to the 49ers’ Unden on court two and sophomore Jeremiah fell 6-2, 6-2 to Long Beach’s Malenovska in the top position.
Kaitlin Burns answered with a 6-2, 6-3 triumph over the 49ers’ Cantlay on court three.
Senior Wilson followed as she notched a 6-2, 6-2 win against Willems on court six, earning her fourth consecutive singles win and maintaining an undefeated singles record this season.
Morton battled back in the second set against Long Beach’s Eva Rodriguez on court four, but fell 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-4).
The Lady Tigers will conclude their tour on the West Coast at 3:30 p.m. Monday as they take on UC Irvine.
Long Beach State 5, LSU 2
Klaudia Malenovska (LBSU) def. Mary Jeremiah 6-2, 6-2
Ebba Unden (LBSU) def. Ella Taylor 6-3, 6-0
Kaitlin Burns (LSU) def. Sarah Cantlay 6-2, 6-3
Eva Rodriguez (LBSU) def. Ariel Morton 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-4)
Karolina Rozenberg (LBSU) def. Caroline Hudson 6-2, 6-2
Ebie Wilson (LSU) def. Anne-Sophie Willems 6-2, 6-2
Morton/Jeremiah (LSU) def. Malenovska/Cantlay 8-4
Unden/Rozenberg (LBSU) def. Wilson/Frakenberger 8-4
Onaga/Willems (LBSU) def. Hudson/Burns 8-4