LSU track tunes up for NCAAs at SEC meet

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The Lady Tiger track team turned in 87 points in the final day of competition to finish fourth at the SEC Indoor Championships Sunday, while the Tigers added 31 points to place seventh overall at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.

Arkansas swept the team competition, capturing both the men's and women's conference titles. The Razorbacks dominated the men's field scoring 120 points to runner-up Florida's 90.5 points. South Carolina rounded out the men's top three, posting 78.5 points.

On the women's side, the Ladybacks paced the field with a meet-high 129 points, while South Carolina finished in second (108.5) and Florida followed in third (105).

"We had some really good things happen today," said LSU head track and field coach Pat Henry. "We came in limping a little bit on the men's side with injuries to some key athletes, but we still pulled out quality performances. I feel like this weekend was the semi-finals, and the final test comes in two weeks (at the NCAA Championships)."

Muna Lee (LSU SID) Muna Lee became the first woman in SEC history to three-peat as champion in the 200 meters.

Sprint sensation Muna Lee headlined the Lady Tigers' performances Sunday, as she became the first women in SEC history to three-peat in the 200 meters, winning her third consecutive title with a blistering time of 23.26. Stephanie Durst and Monique Hall also scored for LSU in the event as Durst finished fourth with a time of 23.74 and Hall placed seventh with a mark of 23.87.

Junior Lolo Jones successfully defended her title in the 55-meter hurdles, clocking an NCAA automatic mark of 7.57 to become just the fifth women in conference history and the first LSU athlete to record back-to-back titles in the event. The Lady Tigers had three other athletes score in the event as well, as RaNysha LeBlanc finished in fourth (7.70), Zamyal Jackson placed sixth (7.75) and Tiffany Robinson finished eighth (7.87).

Just 15 minutes after taking home top honors in the 55-meter hurdles, Jones returned to the track and registered a fifth-place finish in the 55-meter dash, clocking 6.87. Lee, the defending SEC champion in the event, finished second in the race, running 6.75 to fall just short of Auburn's Elva Goulbourne's meet-winning time of 6.73.

Also in the running events, junior Hazelann Regis won the first SEC title of her career, topping the field in the 400 meters. Running in third the majority of the race Regis brushed by Florida's Faith Rein around the 300 meter mark and later surpassed South Carolina's Lashinda Demus with 60 meters left in the race to clock the final meet-winning time of 52.80.

In the 800 meters, senior Marian Burnett won her second straight conference title in the event, turning in her second-best mark of the year, 2:05.42.

On the men's side, the 4x400-meter relay provided one of the day's most exciting competitions. The lead was exchanged four times before the finish line was crossed, as LSU held the lead over South Carolina after the first and third legs of the event, but was nipped in the final 10 meters of the anchor leg to fall to the Gamecocks, 3:07.09 to 3:07.22.

In other relay action, the LSU men's distance medley team of Ben Shumaker, Anthony Ewers, Tomario Thomas and Andrew Huston finished fourth with a season-best effort of 9:53.04. Their time improved upon the Tigers' previous season-best mark by over 15 seconds.

Individually, LSU freshman Kelly Willie earned the automatic bid to the NCAA Championships in the 400 meters that had eluded him all season, turning in a season-best time of 46.58 seconds in the finals to finish third overall.

Junior Jeffrey Fisher broke a 14-year old LSU record in the men's 800 meters, clocking a sizzling time of 1:49.18 to place sixth among the field of talented competitors. Fisher's mark bested the previous school record of 1:49.31 set by Mark Fowler in 1988.

Next up, the LSU track and field team will close out the 2003 indoor schedule at the NCAA Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., March 14-15.

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