COLUMBIA, Mo. — After finishing as the runner-up at eight big meets — including four times each at the Southeastern Conference Track and Field Championships and NCAA Championships, it was finally time for LSU’s Damar Forbes on Saturday.
Then, it almost happened again to Forbes in his final SEC competition.
Forbes took the lead on his first jump of the day at wind-swept Audrey J. Walton Stadium, but again found himself in second place after Florida’s Marquis Dendy sailed past him in the fourth round.
But on his final attempt, Forbes produced a jump of 27 feet, 41/2 inches to claim the first major title of his career — edging Dendy by two inches — to highlight the third day of the meet for LSU.
“It’s about time,” said a relieved Forbes, who twice lost at the SEC meet on the competition’s final attempt.
This time, he had the last jump, thanks to his first-round effort of 26-93/4 that had him in first place after the prelims. After Dendy passed him with a 27-21/2, Forbes had two fouls before he uncorked a big one on his final try.
He knelt on the track meet as officials measured the jump, then popped up and raced to the other end of the stadium in wild celebration when he heard the mark of 8.34 meters — when he needed an 8.30 to top Dendy.
Both of those marks were wind-aided.
“It felt really good,” Forbes said. “It’s crazy. … I worked hard for this for a long time. I’m just happy it paid off. I felt good this week in practice, and my series was pretty good. Even the fouls I had were over eight meters.”
Forbes admitted he didn’t have a good feeling when Dendy leaped past him.
“I said, ‘Here we go again,’ ” he said. “At that point, I knew that I had to do something. So I went out and changed my mark a little bit and got on the board.”
“That’s great for Damar because he’s been on the opposite side of that so many times,” LSU coach Dennis Shaver said. “He actually had the longest jump in the prelims, which gave him the last jump of the competition. To line up and do what he did is a huge mental breakthrough for him.
“He’s been second so many times, I’m sure there was some doubt in his mind.”
That wasn’t the only big performance in the long jump for LSU as Keri Emanuel and Brittany Porter had a 3-5 finish on the women’s side to give the Lady Tigers 10 unexpected points in their quest for a fourth consecutive SEC outdoor title.
Emanuel, whose best mark this season was 19-71/2, went nearly a foot farther with a wind-aided 20-7, while Porter had a 20-33/4.
They teamed with Tori Bliss, who finished fifth in the discus at 162-10, to give the Lady Tigers 14 points on the day and 31 for the meet heading into the final day Sunday.
“To get 10 points in the long jump was huge,” Shaver said. “That just gives us another opportunity. And Tori certainly helped, too, in the discus.”
Arkansas leads the women’s race with 50 points, with Georgia (49), LSU (31), Florida (26) and Texas A&M (25) following. The Arkansas men also lead with 57 points, while Florida (47), Texas A&M (37) and Georgia (31) follow.
With 13 events remaining, Shaver said he likes how the Lady Tigers have positioned themselves going into the meet’s final day. LSU earned four spots in Friday’s running prelims and qualified six more Saturday for a total of 10 — tied for most in the meet.
Kimberlyn Duncan, who qualified for the 200 meters final Friday, and Takeia Pinckney got into the 100 final with times of 11.28 and 11.41 seconds, respectively, after Chanice Chase and Jasmin Stowers advanced in the 100 hurdles with times of 13.39 and 13.40 seconds.
Natoya Goule and Charlene Lipsey, who qualified in the 800 on Friday, also made it in the 1,500 with times of 4 minutes, 22.22 seconds and 4:23.78.
On the men’s side, LSU picked up four more points in addition to the 10 Forbes earned for his long jump win as Jeremy Tuttle was seventh in the javelin (209-4) and Rodney Brown was seventh in the shot put (57-81/2).
Aaron Ernest qualified in the 100 with a wind-aided time of 10.04 and will be in both sprints Sunday, while Quincy Downing advanced in the 400 (46.99) and Phillip Primeaux made it through in the 1,500 (3:52.87).