Track & Field Sends 12 More to NCAA Semifinals

May 27, 2016

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Led by eight heat-winning performances in Friday’s quarterfinals on the track, the LSU Track & Field teams added 12 semifinalists to their squad making the trip to Eugene, Oregon, in two weeks to highlight another successful day of qualifying at the 2016 NCAA East Preliminary Rounds being held at North Florida’s Hodges Stadium.

The Tigers and Lady Tigers were also perfect in first-round qualifying with a combined 13 athletes advancing to Saturday’s finale on another successful day at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds.

Adding their names to LSU’s national semifinalists were LaMar Bruton (400 meters), Michael Cherry (400 meters), Fitzroy Dunkley (400 meters), Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (100 meters) and Tinashe Mutanga (100 meters) for the Tigers; and Mikiah Brisco (100 meters), Chanice Chase (400 hurdles), Rushell Harvey (100 meters), Kortnei Johnson (100 meters), Ka’Lynn Jupiter (400 hurdles), Kymber Payne (400 hurdles) and Morgan Schuetz (800 meters) for the Lady Tigers from the quarterfinal round.

The top-12 finishers in each open and relay event at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds in Jacksonville this weekend will advance to the national semifinals in their respective events for the 2016 NCAA Division I Track & Field Championships being held at Oregon’s Hayward Field in Eugene from June 8-11 to wrap up the collegiate season.

“I thought we really raised our level of performance as a group after a strong start here yesterday,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver following the day’s events. “When you see so many winning their heat or coming close to winning their heat, you know they are lining up with the right mindset in a meet like this where place in your heat is so much more important than the time you run.”

The Tigers set the tone for Friday’s quarterfinals when each of their three runners in the second heat of the men’s 400 meters earned their spot on the plane to Eugene with sub-46-second performances.

Cherry won a fight to the finish with his second-fastest time of the season at 45.22 to emerge as the top semifinalist in the event from the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds. Dunkley followed in second place in their heat with the third-fastest time in the quarterfinals at 45.46 to qualify automatically for the national semifinals, while Bruton advanced on time with a seasonal best of 45.99 for fourth place in the heat.

“Basically, we all just wanted to get through,” Cherry said following the race. “We all three wanted to get through, that’s basically it. We were all in the same heat, so we went in thinking we would go 1-2-3. We treated it like practice. We’re really competitive. It didn’t happen like that, but we knew LaMar (Bruton) would get through. He had a seasonal best, so we’re happy for that.”

Two Tigers then earned their ticket to Eugene from the third heat of the men’s 100 meters as Mitchell-Blake took the tape with the second-fastest time of the round at 10.20 (+1.3) followed by Mutanga in fourth place in the heat in 10.34. Mutanga’s effort secured him a lane in the national semifinals as the fastest of three timed qualifiers.

They were later among five Tigers qualifying in the first round of the men’s 200-meter dash as Mitchell-Blake won the fifth heat in 20.54 (+0.2) and Mutanga advanced as the runner-up from the third heat with his time of 20.71 (+0.5). SEC Outdoor Silver Medalist Renard Howell beat Mutanga to the line in the heat with the second-best time of the day at 20.41 while junior Tremayne Acy won the sixth heat in 20.68 (+1.0) and freshman Jaron Flournoy was runner-up to Mitchell-Blake in the fifth heat with a time of 20.86 (+0.2).

Reigning SEC Champion Jordan Moore led off Friday’s events on the track for the Tigers with a heat-winning performance of his own in the men’s 110-meter hurdles as he was comfortable in running 13.72 (+0.9) which stood as the No. 7 time of the round from the second heat. Moore was crowned the SEC Champion in the event when he ran his seasonal-best time of 13.53 in the conference final.

Chase was arguably the team’s top performer for the second-straight day at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds as she turned in personal bests in each of her two events in the first round of qualifying in the 100-meter hurdles and quarterfinal round of the 400-meter hurdles.

Just one day after advancing with a nearly three-tenth personal best of 55.47 in the first round of the 400 hurdles, Chase dropped her PR to 55.35 to win the third quarterfinal heat with the third-fastest time of the day. She returns to Eugene as a former NCAA finalist in the event when she earned All-American honors with a fifth-place finish nationally as a sophomore in 2014.

Chase was among three Lady Tigers advancing from the quarterfinal round of the intermediate hurdles as sophomore Kymber Payne made it a 1-2 finish for LSU in the third heat with a personal best of 56.38 and junior Ka’Lynn Jupiter earned a lane in Eugene with a career best of her own at 56.63 for third place in the first heat.

Chase will next have an opportunity to qualify for the NCAA semifinals in the 100-meter hurdles on Saturday afternoon when she returns to Hodges Stadium for the quarterfinal round of the women’s 100 hurdles with a heat-winning personal best of 12.94 (+1.0) in the second section to emerge as the No. 3-seeded qualifier in Friday’s opening round. That effort made Chase the No. 9-ranked hurdler in school history on LSU’s all-time outdoor performance list in the event.

Brisco joined Chase in automatically advancing to the sprint hurdle quarterfinals with a runner-up finish in the fifth qualifying heat with a time of 13.21 (+0.8) for the 10th-fastest time of the afternoon. She followed with a heat-winning run of 11.32 (-0.3) in the third quarterfinal heat to join two other Lady Tigers in the national semifinals of the women’s 100 meters.

Johnson won the second heat with a personal-best time of 11.27 (+1.6) after matching her wind-legal PR of 11.29 in Thursday’s opening round. Harvey followed Brisco in third in the third heat with a time of 11.46.

Like the Tigers, the Lady Tigers were also a perfect 5-for-5 in first-round qualifying in the 200 meters on Friday night as junior Jada Martin led the way with her heat-winning 22.76 (+0.3) in the third section. Johnson was runner-up in the fifth heat with a time of 23.15 (+1.0), while freshman Rachel Misher (23.18) and senior Kiersten Duncan (23.42) were both third in their heat and Harvey (23.33) advanced on time.

Rounding out the day’s semifinalists was All-SEC middle distance runner Morgan Schuetz as the junior from Baton Rouge used a strong kick in the final 250 meters of her race to win the third quarterfinal heat of the 800 meters with a run of 2 minutes, 4.86 seconds. She earned a return trip to Hayward Field for the second-straight season after just missing a spot in the NCAA final last spring.

“We’ve put ourselves in a great position through the first two days, so we really need to finish strong here tomorrow,” Shaver said. “We’ll approach the final day here in Jacksonville the same way and hopefully carry a bit of momentum with us when we go to Eugene in two weeks.”

Despite running the 11th-fastest time of the quarterfinals, junior Blair Henderson missed advancing to the men’s 800-meter semifinals on time as his 1:48.08 was good for fifth place in the second heat and 14th overall.

Cracking the Top 20 in the women’s 100-meter quarterfinals was sophomore Aleia Hobbs, who ran 11.64 (+1.1) for sixth in the first heat and 20th place in the final standings. Junior Bryiana Richardson later clocked 59.49 to finish in 21st place overall in the women’s 400-meter hurdles to wrap up her 2016 outdoor season.

Also lining up in Friday’s quarterfinals on the track was Lady Tiger junior Travia Jones, who crossed the finish line seventh in the first heat of the women’s 400 meters with a time of 53.69. Jones’ time earned her a finish of 22nd place in the event after clocking a nearly two-tenth-of-a-second PR at 53.08 in Thursday’s opener.

Senior Terry Hughes opened the day’s field events by stepping onto the runway in the first flight of the men’s javelin as he threw 191-2 on his second attempt to finish in 42nd place in his final meet as a Tiger. Lady Tiger senior Shanice Hall also wrapped up her collegiate career by tying for 19th place in the women’s high jump with a clearance of 5-9 ¼.

The Tigers and Lady Tigers will  have 19 more opportunities to add to their rosters heading to Eugene in two weeks when they return to Hodges Stadium on Saturday to finish off the 2016 NCAA East Preliminary Rounds in Jacksonville. The action begins at 2 p.m. CT with their first field events of the day followed by the first quarterfinal races on the track at 5 p.m. CT.

LSU’s Qualifiers for the NCAA Championships Semifinals in Eugene, Oregon
Note: All times and marks were achieved this weekend at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds

Name, Event, Time/Mark (Place)
LaMar Bruton, 400 Meters, 45.99 (10)
Michael Cherry, 400 Meters, 45.22 (1)
Fitzroy Dunkley, 400 Meters, 45.46 (3)
Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, 100 Meters, 10.20 (2)
Tinashe Mutanga, 100 Meters, 10.34 (8)

Lady Tigers
Name, Event, Time/Mark (Place)
Mikiah Brisco, 100 Meters, 11.32 (3)
Chanice Chase, 400 Hurdles, 55.35 (3)
Rushell Harvey, 100 Meters, 11.46 (10)
Kortnei Johnson, 100 Meters, 11.27 (1)
Ka’Lynn Jupiter, 400 Hurdles, 56.63 (11)
Kymber Payne, 400 Hurdles, 56.38 (9)
Morgan Schuetz, 800 Meters, 2:04.86 (12)
Rebekah Wales, Javelin, 161-6 (6)

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