FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The LSU women's track and field team entered the NCAA Indoor Championships with the weight of expectations on their shoulders.<br> The Lady Tigers refused to succumb to pressure, however, and concluded a near perfect weekend by winning two events on Saturday evening to clinch their ninth NCAA Indoor Championship at the Randal Tyson Center.

At the same time, the men's team came up with its second highest finish ever, placing third in the men's competition.


"I think we had tremendous efforts across the board," said LSU head coach Pat Henry. "With the exception of one or two events we had a near perfect weekend on both sides. This is about as good a combined effort as we could have gotten.


"As for the women, we need a solid effort in every area this weekend and we got it. We were consistent and got a few surprises and that's what it takes to win this event. This is a great victory for this University and for this program."


The Lady Tigers finished with 57 points, dethroning two-time defending champion UCLA which finished in second place with 43 points.


The Tigers also won two events on Saturday to finish with 44 points but fell short as Tennessee won the men's team title with 62 ½ points, while Alabama edged LSU for second place with 47 points.


The national title was the 22nd of Henry's career, the second highest total in NCAA history in any sport.


Henry knew entering the NCAA Indoor Championships that the triple jump would be one of the most critical events of the competition in the Lady Tigers' quest to regain the national title. His jumpers certainly answered the call.


Nicole Toney

Nicole Toney helped LSU earn its ninth NCAA Indoor Track Championship with a first-place finish in the long jump. (LSU SID Photo)


Nicole Toney kick-started the day for LSU in the triple jump and became the third Lady Tiger in the last six years to the win the NCAA Indoor crown, as she stunned heavily favored Shelly-Ann Gallimore of Auburn.


The sophomore transfer from the University of Connecticut seized command of the competition on her second jump, posting the eventual winning mark of 45-0 ¼, the third best jump in LSU history. Toney was unable to improve on the jump but didn't need to as Gallimore could only muster a best jump of 44-9 on her final attempt.


Bianca Rockett earned the first All-American honor of her career with a sixth place finish, posting a mark of 42-11, whle Andria Booker finished eighth with a jump of 42-2. When added up, the Lady Tigers had earned 14 points and seized control of the women's competition.


Marian Burnett moved the Lady Tigers closer moments later when she became the first LSU woman to win the 800-meter run indoors. Burnett bested a star-studded field with a time of 2:05.33.


Burnett stayed with the lead pack for the first 600 meters, waiting patiently for her opening. The junior took control of the race with 200 meters remaining, taking advantage of her tremendous kick as she out-sprinted Kristina Bratten of Florida who finished second at 2:05.33.


"My plan was to stay with the group for 600 meters and turn it on in the end," said Burnett. "The time wasn't as fast as what I though it what take to win but I wasn't concerned with the time, I was more concerned with running whatever it took to win."


The victory by Burnett gave LSU 45 points at the time and moved them within five points of putting the meet mathematically out of reach for their competitors.


Muna Lee slammed the door shot on the competition, clinching the Lady Tigers ninth NCAA Indoor crown with a third place finish in the 60-meter dash. Lee posted a time of 7.23, just off her personal best to finish behind Angela Williams of Southern California and Tahesia Harrigan of Minnesota.


The Lady Tigers closed the competition with a third place finish in the 4x400-meter relay as the tandem of Burnett, Lee, Stephanie Durst and Ronetta Smith blazed to a season best time of 3:35.13 to put an exclamation point on their weekend.


The Tigers did everything expected of them and actually scored more points than they did a year ago in winning the title, but came up just short in the team race as Tennessee won its first men's indoor title.


The quarter-milers lived up to their advanced billing and came up with a 1-2-4 finish to give the Tigers 23 points in the event alone. Just two days after being named National Indoor Track Athlete of the Year, Alleyne Francique became the first LSU man to win the NCAA title in the 400-meter dash, edging teammate Pete Coley in a striking similar race to their SEC duel two weeks ago.


Francique took command at the break and ran 21.48 through 200 meters and held off an on-charging Coley to win in a time of 45.58. Coley ran a time of 45.62. Giving the Tigers three high scorers in the event, Lueroy Colquhoun matched his fourth place finish of two years ago, running a time of 46.35 in the process.


Walter Davis broke his second school record of the weekend, easily winning the triple jump with incredible mark of 56-6 ½. Davis showed remarkable consistency and posted four jumps of better than 55 feet before nailing his record setting jump on his final attempt.


Davis became the first man in LSU history to win two individual NCAA Indoor titles in his career as he defended his triple jump title of a year ago.


Teammate Traun Smith shattered the form charts with a sixth place finish, giving the Tigers three additional points in the event. Smith came up with a personal best jump of 52-4 ½ to give the Tigers two scorers in the event for the second consecutive year.


The Tigers were dealt a surprising fate in the 4x400-meter relay to close out the competition, however, as a bad exchange between Coley and Robert Parham on the second exchange cost them a shot at second place in the overall team race.


The finish by the Tigers is the second highest in school history behind only their national championship performance a year ago.


The LSU men and women will open the outdoor season on Saturday with the LSU Alumni Gold Relays. Field events get underway at 10 a.m., while track events begin at noon.


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