TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — For two days, the LSU track and field teams did just about everything they could do to set the table for a big finish at the Southeastern Conference championships.
On Saturday, they converted the opportunities into points — plenty of them — with sprinter Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake leading the way.
The third-ranked Tigers piled up 83 points on the track and the seventh-ranked Lady Tigers scored 65 in the running events in combining for six event wins — five by the men — on the final day of the competition at Sam Bailey Stadium.
Both groups exceeded their projected totals going into the meet when the men finished with 86 points to claim fourth place in the team race, while the women were fifth with 75.
Arkansas won both team titles. It won the women’s crown with 126¾ points, followed by Texas A&M (82), Kentucky (80), Tennessee (76) and LSU (75), while the Razorbacks won the men’s title with 121 points with Texas A&M (101), Alabama (88), LSU (86) and Ole Miss (66½) following.
“They did a great job,” LSU coach Dennis Shaver said of his teams’ finish. “When we came to the track this morning, we had six points on the women’s side and the men had three. On paper, we were expected to score between 60 and 65 (points), and we had more than that in both cases.”
Of course, 60 of LSU’s 148 points on the track came from the six victories — starting with a sweep of the 4x100 relay titles and concluding with a win in the men’s 4x400 relay.
In between were Mitchell-Blake’s wins at 100 and 200 meters and Jordan Moore’s victory in the 110-meter hurdles.
Mitchell-Blake also anchored the Tigers’ 4x100 relay to a winning time of 38.33 seconds — a meet record and third-fastest time in school history — just minutes after the Lady Tigers set the tone for the day with a season’s-best time of 42.77 seconds.
Mitchell-Blake went on to claim the Commissioner’s Trophy as the men’s high scorer with 22½ points after he won the 100 in 10.16 and the 200 in 19.95.
It was only the second time an LSU sprinter had cracked the 20-second barrier. Xavier Carter holds the school record with a 19.63 run in 2006.
“Obviously, to do this in the postseason takes hard work … it’s strenuous,” said Mitchell-Blake, who came into the meet with the fastest 200 time in the nation at 20.14 seconds. “At this time of the season, it’s about executing and being efficient.”
While Mitchell-Blake’s primary event is the 200, he got out in the 100 and out-ran the field to add to his haul.
“The 200 is my primary event, but I’ve gotten really good at the 100 this year and I was overjoyed after that one,” he said. “But the 200 was my favorite. … Not many guys run 19-something, but my work isn’t done yet.”
Mitchell-Blake was joined on the sprint relay by Jaron Flournoy, Renard Howell and Tremayne Acy, just after Mikiah Brisco, Kortnei Johnson, Jada Martin and Rushell Harvey lit up the track in the women’s relay.
Moore kept things going with his win in the 110 hurdles, running a time of 13.53 seconds for the title to go with the one he won at 60 meters at the league’s indoor meet in February.
“I wasn’t pleased with the time, but I was pleased with the win,” Moore said. “A win is a win though and I have a lot of work to do. But this was a great confidence-booster going to (NCAA preliminary rounds and nationals).”
LSU’s men finished strong when LaMar Bruton, Michael Cherry, Cyril Grayson and Fitzroy Dunkley won the 4x400 going away in 3 minutes, 00.48 seconds — just off their nation’s-leading time of 3:00.38.
Cherry and Dunkley had a 2-3 finish in the open 400 with times of 45.22 and 45.34 seconds, respectively, while Mitchell-Blake and Howell had a 1-2 finish in the 200. Howell’s time of 20.15 was the fourth-fastest in school history.
On the women’s side, the Lady Tigers challenged the SEC meet record of 42.61 held by Texas A&M before settling for the seventh-fastest time in school history. It was the 19th SEC 4x100 title for LSU in the meet’s 36-year history.
Johnson returned from the relay to finish second in the 100 with a personal-record of 11.29 seconds, then followed Martin to the finish line in the 200 for a 3-4 finish with times of 22.60 and 22.82.
Also, Chanice Chase was second in the 400 hurdles in 56.17 seconds, Morgan Schuetz was third in the 800 in 2 minutes, 04.19 seconds and Brisco was fourth in the 100 hurdles in 13.11 seconds.