EUGENE, Ore. — The LSU women’s track and field team was certainly motivated for the final day of the NCAA championships Saturday.
None more, perhaps, than three members of the 4x100-meter relay team that didn’t qualify for individual event finals in Thursday’s semifinals.
The Lady Tigers walked into Hayward Field with a chip on their shoulders, then, in the first running event, sped around the track to take the sprint relay title in record-setting time.
The team of Mikiah Brisco, Kortnei Johnson, Jada Martin and Rushell Harvey got the baton around in a season’s-best 42.65 seconds to break the old stadium record of 42.76 set by LSU in 1996.
That seemed to motivate the other Lady Tigers, who went on to score 31 points with only six scoring opportunities for a sixth-place team finish.
Arkansas won the title with 72 points followed by Oregon (62), Georgia (41), Texas (36), Texas A&M (35) and LSU.
In the sprint relay, LSU quickly served notice that it was going to be a factor when Brisco shot out the blocks and handed the baton to Johnson, who followed suit and set up Martin for another solid carry.
Johnson said she knew they were going to run a good time when Brisco quickly ran up on her.
“I got nervous and my heart was beating really fast,” Johnson said. “Mikiah’s always coming in fast and I knew I had to get off my mark on time. If I didn’t, I would be in trouble. … But everybody did a good job today getting out.”
The Lady Tigers, who had a best of 42.77 seconds this season, were in complete control of the race by the time the baton got to Harvey, who was staked to a sizable lead over Texas A&M, Oregon and Southern Cal.
Harvey took care of the rest, racing to the finish line and holding off Southern Cal (42.90) and Oregon (42.91) at the end. Texas A&M (42.95) finished fourth.
“There wasn’t a lot of people around me when I got the baton, so it was really exciting,” a smiling Harvey said. “All I had to do was finish. My teammates did all the work.”
Johnson rebounded after not making the open 100 and 200, Martin didn’t qualify in the 200 and Harvey didn’t advance through the 100 semifinals on Thursday night.
“Not getting to our finals was the biggest motivation for us,” Harvey said. “We had high expectations when we came here this week, but things happen. Coach (Dennis) Shaver just told us to regroup and get ready for the 4x100.”
It was the 14th sprint relay title for the LSU women in the 35-year history of the NCAA championships.
LSU’s 4x400 relay also figured in the Lady Tigers’ top 10 finish.
The team of Rachel Misher, Martin, Travia Jones and Chanice Chase finished the meet by also running a season’s-best time in the 4x400. They posted a time of 3 minutes, 29.82 seconds to take fourth.
Earlier, Chase was fifth in the 400-meter hurdles with a personal-best time of 54.94 seconds, easily topping her old best of 55.35, and finished sixth in the 100 hurdles with a wind-aided 12.90.
Brisco also finished fifth in the open 100 with a wind-aided 11.13 and Morgan Schuetz added two points to the total with a seventh-place finish in the 800 meters at 2:03.72.
“I didn’t really know coming in if we had a top-10 caliber team on the women’s side with such a young group,” Shaver said. “The potential was certainly there, but we knew we needed to have two pretty good days to be in that mix in the end.
“They did really well today from winning the (4x100) relay all the way through to the final event.”
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter, @MicklesAdvocate.