The LSU track and field teams use their annual home-opening outdoor meet as a dress rehearsal for the prestigious Texas Relays, which will be held next weekend in Austin, Texas.
But quite often at the Texas Relays, like Saturday at Bernie Moore Track Stadium, you never know what kind of weather conditions you’re going to be competing in.
Which is why the second day of the LSU Relays turned out to be the perfect dress rehearsal, for the fourth-ranked Lady Tigers and 10th-ranked Tigers.
Well, maybe it wasn’t perfect.
Heavy wind, intermittent showers and heavy air combined to put a damper on most of the marks for coach Dennis Shaver’s teams, who can only hope for better conditions next week.
The Lady Tigers did win all three of the relays run Saturday, which was highlighted by the 4x100 unit that clocked a time of 44.03 seconds. That was just off the season-opener of 43.86 seconds posted last season by the group that went on to win the NCAA title in the event.
An all-new team of Jasmin Stowers, Kimberlyn Duncan, Takeia Pinckney and Toshika Sylvester got the stick around easily and won handily.
Stowers, the junior All-American hurdler, hadn’t really run the relays since high school when she anchored, while Duncan was moving from the anchor to second leg. Pinckney ran the leadoff leg last year, while Sylvester wasn’t on the team at all.
A revamped men’s 4x100 team of Damar Forbes, Darrell Bush, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, Shermund Allsop placed second with a time of 39.98 — fourth-hundredths of a second behind a Tiger Olympians group made up of Barrett Nugent, Tristan Walker, Kyron Blaise and Gabriel Mvumvure.
The men’s team competed without All-American Aaron Ernest, who was held out after a grueling indoor season.
“We got the stick around the track with both the men and women, so that was good,” said Shaver, referencing early-season troubles his sprint relay teams have experienced at this meet in the past. “It was fun to watch.
“I thought the women executed it fairly well, and that was good because it’s a new group with the two returning athletes (Duncan and Pinckney) running different legs than last year. I was real happy with that because I didn’t think we would run 44-low with the new people, the conditions and the competition.”
Shaver said Stowers, who later won the 100-meter hurdles title in 13.39 seconds with teammate Shanekia Hall taking second with a 13.52, ran a strong leg to get things started.
“It was kind of different because I hadn’t done it since high school, and I was handing off to somebody — especially Kim, who’s so fast,” Stowers said. “I was definitely nervous. I just tried to sprint my hardest and not mess it up.
“Coach Shaver said I did pretty well, but we’ve still got a lot of improvements to make.”
Duncan, who has claimed the last five 200 meter titles at the NCAA indoor and outdoor meets, also ran the second leg on the 4x200 relay team that won in 1 minute, 34.29 seconds.
That group also included Latoya McDermott, Siedda Herbert and Sylvester, while the 4x400 unit of Herbert, Nikita Tracey, Montenae Roye-Speight and Natoya Goule also won with a 3:37.00.
Tracey was a double winner as she took the 400 hurdles title in 59.18 seconds in her LSU debut in that event, while teammate Shana-Gaye Tracey was second in 59.27.
LSU’s other event winners on the women’s side were Laura Carleton in the 800 (2:11.08) and Keri Emanuel in the long jump (19 feet, 71/2 inches).
In the men’s division, Quincy Downing took the title in the 400 meters (46.94) and Rodney Brown won the discus (186-2).
“It was a tough day for some of the field events, especially the long jump and the discus because of the wind,” Shaver said. “Plus, we’re been training hard and the kids might have been a little fatigued.
“Maybe next week we can catch some good weather because we know the competition will be good. They’ll be in better shape to compete because they’ll be more focused mentally.”