DES MOINES, Iowa — The day was surely a homecoming to remember for Lady Tiger great Lolo Jones as she stepped onto Jim Duncan Track for the first round of qualifying in the women’s 100-meter hurdles and raced to a new seasonal best and Drake Stadium record during Friday’s heats at the 2013 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Jones led an impressive day of qualifying for LSU’s alumni competing at the USA Outdoor Championships as five seasonal bests were set by former Lady Tigers on Friday evening.
In the only wind-legal race in the qualifying round, Jones cleared the 10 hurdles in a seasonal-best time of 12.50 seconds (+1.9) for the second-fastest time worldwide for the 2013 outdoor season. Jones dominated the race as she finished nearly two tenths of a second clear of Virginia Powell (12.67) in second place and Nia Ali (12.67) in third place in the heat.
It proved to be the third-fastest time of the day under all conditions as World leader Brianna Rollins won the third heat with a windy 12.33 (+2.3) and Queen Harrison won the fourth heat with a windy 12.44 (+3.1).
Jones, who will next line up in the semifinal round on Saturday at 2:25 p.m. CT, took down the 3-year-old Drake Stadium record of 12.65 that was set by Damu Cherry in 2010, and smashed her previous seasonal best of 12.70 she set in a runner-up finish at a recent IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rome, Italy, on June 6.
A Des Moines native and product of Roosevelt High School as a youth, Jones has enjoyed great success while competing in front of her hometown fans over the years at Drake Stadium as she has claimed the women’s invitational 100-meter hurdles at the Drake Relays three times in 2006, 2007 and 2008. But she has her sights set on making her first World Championship team for Team USA this weekend with a top-three finish overall in Saturday’s final at 5:52 p.m. She has already represented the United States in each of the last two Olympic Games in 2008 and 2012.
The women’s 100-meter hurdles is perhaps the deepest event of the championship as the United States features the eight fastest sprint hurdlers in the world thus far in the 2013 outdoor season.
Also joining Jones in the semifinals of the 100 hurdles is LSU alum Tenaya Jones (no relation) as the former Lady Tiger ran a wind-aided 12.82 for third place in the fourth of four qualifying heats on Friday night.
“I’m pleased with it, but I’m sure that record’s going to be short-lived,” Jones quipped about the quality of the field competing in the event this weekend. “I think it’s going to be an amazing and competitive final, and a semifinal as well. It’s (Drake Stadium) near and dear to my heart, and I’m using the crowd as energy. It definitely helped me out there today.”
Former Lady Tiger teammate and national champion Muna Lee also enjoyed her performance of the season while lining up in the championship final of the women’s 100-meter dash in Des Moines on Friday night.
After running her first seasonal best of the evening with a wind-legal 11.07 (+2.0) for third place in her semifinal heat, Lee lined up in what proved to be the fastest 100-meter race of the 2013 season needing to claim a top-three finish to make the World Championship team. She came up a bit short of her goal, despite dropping her seasonal best to 11.00 (+1.8) for seventh place in the final.
Two collegians stole the show as Oregon junior English Gardner was crowned the USA Outdoor champion with a winning world-leading time of 10.85, followed by Central Florida sophomore Octavious Freeman in silver position with a new personal best of 10.87. Also earning her spot on Team USA was Alexandria Anderson, who scored the bronze medal with an impressive run of 10.91 in the fastest final of the season.
Lee also followed the likes of Jeneba Tarmoh (10.93), Barbara Pierre (10.94) and Central Florida junior Aurieyall Scott (11.00) across the finish line for a seventh-place finish in the championship final.
Another former Lady Tiger who will have an opportunity to earn her trip to Moscow, Russia, with Team USA on Saturday afternoon is Rebecca Alexander, who had a seasonal best in the 400-meter dash for the second-straight day while lining up in the women’s semifinal. Alexander, who ran 52.22 in Thursday’s qualifying round, slashed her seasonal best by almost another half second in Friday’s semifinals when she crossed the finish line in 51.78 for fourth place in the first heat behind Francena McCorory (50.53), Joanna Atkins (51.19) and Jessica Beard (51.51).
Alexander will line up in her first career USA Championships final in the 400 meters on Saturday at 5:08 p.m. as the top three finishers will earn the right to compete at this year’s IAAF World Championships in Athletics.
Saturday’s action will also feature the semifinal round of the women’s 400-meter hurdles as LSU’s 2012 NCAA Champion Cassandra Tate will line up with the goal of earning a top-four finish in her heat to earn her place in Sunday’s final in the event. Tate broke 56 seconds for the first time in 2013 with a run of 55.99 for third place in the third heat with the sixth-fastest time of the opening round.
LaTavia Thomas, a former NCAA Indoor champion and All-American at LSU, also ran a seasonal best on Friday evening when she lined up in the second of two semifinal heats in the women’s 800-meter run.
Thomas split 59.72 seconds as she held the third position after the first lap, but slipped into fifth place in the race over the final 400 meters while crossing the finish line with a time of 2 minutes, 0.61 seconds. While that effort proved to be the sixth-fastest time of the day for the former NCAA Indoor champion, she finished one spot outside of a top-four finish needed to advance to Sunday’s championship final.
While running a seasonal best of 2:00.61, Thomas followed Brenda Martinez (1:59.84), Heather Kampf (2:00.51), Geena Gall (2:00.53) and Laura Roesler (2:00.54) across the finish line in the tightest race of the day.
Also lining up in the semifinal round of the 800 meters during Friday’s action at Drake Stadium was former Tiger All-American Richard Jones, who finished in 16th place overall in the men’s event with a time of 1:51.38 for eighth place in the first heat. Jones qualified for the semifinals with an opening run of 1:47.39 on Thursday afternoon.
Sophomore All-American Rodney Brown wrapped up Friday’s events for the LSU contingent while advancing to his first career final in the men’s discus throw at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. He threw a series-best of 195 feet, 1 inch on his very first throw of the event to take sixth place into the final after three preliminary throws. Brown then slipped into seventh place in the final discus standings as he was just over nine feet off the pace set by this year’s USA Outdoor champion Lance Brooks, who uncorked a winning throw of 204-4 in the third round.
The action continues for a number of Tigers and Lady Tigers competing at the 2013 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships this weekend as Saturday’s events begin at 2:25 p.m. CT at Drake Stadium.
Time Schedule for LSU Entries at the 2013 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships
Note: Times are Central and subject to change based on round-by-round qualifying
Saturday, June 22
TV Coverage: LIVE on Universal Sports (3-4 p.m. CT); LIVE on NBC Sports Network (4-6 p.m. CT)
2:25 p.m. – Women’s 100 Hurdles Semifinals (Lolo Jones, Tenaya Jones)
2:40 p.m. – Men’s 200 Meters First Round (Aaron Ernest)
3:10 p.m. – Men’s 110 Hurdles First Round (Barrett Nugent)
3:35 p.m. – Women’s 200 Meters First Round (Kimberlyn Duncan)
4:03 p.m. – Women’s 400 Hurdles Semifinals (Cassandra Tate)
5:08 p.m. – Women’s 400 Meters Final (Rebecca Alexander)
5:52 p.m. – Women’s 100 Hurdles Final (Lolo Jones, Tenaya Jones)
Sunday, June 23
TV Coverage: LIVE on Universal Sports (1-2 p.m. CT); LIVE on NBC Sports Network (2-3 p.m. CT); LIVE on NBC (3-5 p.m. CT)
2:05 p.m. – Men’s 200 Meters Semifinals (Aaron Ernest)
2:22 p.m. – Women’s 200 Meters Semifinals (Kimberlyn Duncan)
2:30 p.m. – Men’s Long Jump Final (Jeremy Hicks)
2:40 p.m. – Men’s 110 Hurdles Semifinals (Barrett Nugent)
3:44 p.m. – Women’s 400 Hurdles Final (Cassandra Tate)
4:10 p.m. – Men’s 200 Meters Final (Aaron Ernest)
4:20 p.m. – Women’s 200 Meters Final (Kimberlyn Duncan)
4:52 p.m. – Men’s 110 Hurdles Final (Barrett Nugent)