Terrance Laird and Noah Williams made sure the LSU men's track and field team got off to a fast start in the NCAA championships Wednesday.
Setting the table for Friday's finals, Laird and Williams each ran a strong leg on the 4x100-meter relay team that posted the fastest time of the semifinals at 38.66 seconds.
Then, they combined to earn three individual finals spots in the sprints during the men's semifinals at the new Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
Unfortunately, despite their efforts and two wins in the field, the day didn't finish the way top-ranked LSU hoped that it would.
Late in the evening, just minutes after JuVaughn Harrison won the long jump and freshman Tzuriel Pedigo unleashed a school-record throw to claim the javelin title, the Tigers couldn't close the way they started.
All told, LSU athletes advanced to Friday's finals in six events on the track, starting with the 4x100 relay.
Laird led the way by advancing to the final in the 100 and 200 and Williams easily got through in the open 400 meters.
But in the final running event of the day, the Tigers' 4x400 relay team failed to qualify for Friday's final — which could be crucial when they try to claim their first NCAA outdoor title since 2002.
LSU, which posted the third-fastest time in the country this spring at 3 minutes, 01.00 seconds, struggled to a time of 3:08.15 and failed to qualify for the final.
Still, LSU scored 24 points on Wednesday with more to come Friday.
Harrison picked up his fifth career NCAA title when he claimed the long jump at 27 feet, 1¾ inches, while Pedigo, on his sixth and final attempt of the competition, uncorked a throw of 252-7 to jump from seventh to first.
In addition to shattering the personal-record throw of 246-5 he had in the NCAA East preliminary rounds on May 26, Pedigo surpassed the school mark of 247-11 set back in 1987 by Mikael Olander.
Southeastern Louisiana's Franck Disanza finished sixth in the javelin with a best of 245-1.
LSU's sprint relay team looked especially strong Wednesday when the team of Dylan Peebles, Williams, Akanni Hislop and Laird easily got the stick around to take the heat.
They nearly matched their season-best time of 38.58 seconds, which they ran at the LSU Alumni Gold meet on April 24, on a chilly evening.
Laird later returned to the track and lined up in the semifinals of the 100 and 200 meters.
A junior transfer from Penn State, Laird finished second in his 100 heat in 10.21 seconds and automatically qualified for Friday's final.
Then, the world leader so far this year in the 200 cruised to a win in his semifinal heat in 20.14 seconds — the second-fastest time of the day.
Williams, the reigning NCAA indoor champion at 400 meters, continued his quest for an outdoor title when he coasted into the final with a time of 45.40 seconds.
LSU also picked up two spots for Friday's hurdles finals.
In the 110 hurdles, Damion Thomas automatically advanced when he won his heat in 13.47 seconds.
Then, freshman Sean Burrell secured his spot in the 400 hurdles when he clocked a time of 49.06 seconds, which was the second-fastest of the semifinal round.
LSU picked up its first two points in the meet's opening event Wednesday afternoon when Jon Nerdal finished seventh in the hammer with a throw of 232-6.
Rayvon Grey chipped in the other two points when he finished seventh in the long jump with a best of 25-6¼.
POinta are awarded on a 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis for the top eight finishers in each individual event and relay race.
The men will have the day off Thursday while the women take to the track for the semifinals.