Lady Tigers win 24th NCAA title

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- After a stellar first-day performance, Muna Lee and Lolo Jones helped LSU capture a second straight indoor national title for the LSU women's track team -- head coach Pat Henry's 24th -- on Saturday at the NCAA Championships.

The victory marked the 10th women's indoor championship in school history and the 22nd overall women's track title -- all since 1987. It was the 39th national championship for LSU.

Needing just nine total points in the 60 meters to fend off Southeastern Conference foes Florida and South Carolina and secure the national crown, the Lee and Jones combined to score 13 points in the event as Lee won her second national title of the meet and Jones earned All-America honors in the 60 meters for the first time in her career.

Lee's win in the 60 meters places her among elite company as she became just the third women in NCAA history and the first in nine years to sweep the short sprints at the indoor championship meet.

LSU's Muna Lee and Texas' Sanya Richards head down the stretch during the 200 meters at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. Lee won the event with a time of 22.61 and Richards finished 2nd at 22.90. (AP Photo/April L. Brown)

"This was one of my best meets ever," said Lee. "I feel like I did my part and that we all did our part. I was just hoping we'd win so our seniors could go out with a bang."

The Lady Tigers' added 39 points in the final day of competition to finish with 62 points, while South Carolina and Florida tied for second with 44 points apiece. LSU's title marks the 24th for head coach Pat Henry.

"We had a great day today," Henry said. "People like Muna Lee and Lolo Jones are few and far between. We've had some great sprinters at LSU and I don't think we've ever had an athlete have a weekend like the one Muna did."

Lee, a junior from Kansas City, Mo., became just the third women in NCAA history to win back-to-back titles in the 200 meters, winning the event Friday with the third-fastest time in the world this season, 22.61.

"The finals were just to win and help out the team," said Lee. "There wasn't any pressure and I was able to get some points for my team. I'm just happy that my time was an improvement over last year's."

Despite the impressive feat, Lee's most amazing accomplishment may have come in the prelims of the 200 when she clocked a collegiate record and world-leading time of 22.49. Her mark shattered the 21-year old collegiate record of 22.79 set by Nebraska's Merlene Ottey in 1982.

Jones also grabbed a title on Friday, following her SEC championship in the 55-meter hurdles with the national title in the 60-meter hurdles. Her sizzling time of 8.00. leads the collegiate ranks this season and is second all-time in school history.

"At first I didn't come in expecting this," said Jones. "Then Coach (Dennis) Shaver made an adjustment to my start after the prelims and I knew I could do it. I just wanted to make up some points for my team."

To add icing on the cake Saturday, the women's 4x400-meter relay team of Nadia Davy, Stephanie Durst, Monique Hall and Hazelann Regis combined to post the second fastest time in school history, 3:32.16, to close out the women's meet and finish third behind a collegiate record performance by Texas (3:27.66) and South Carolina (3:28.25).

Not to be overshadowed, the men's squad added 19 points on the final day of competition behind a national championship performance in the 4x400-meter relay to catapult into fourth in the final team standings (24 points).

Arkansas won its 17th national title on the men's side toppling the field with 52 points, while Auburn finished second (28) and Nebraska placed third (26).

"We had a very good day on the men's side," said Henry. "You just can't come in here two guys down and basically we did with Robert (Parham) and LeJuan (Simon) not capable of competing at this level. They were here, but they weren't because of injury."

In the final event of the evening, the foursome of Pete Coley, Marlon Greensword, Bennie Brazell and Kelly Willie combined to run the third fastest time in school history, 3:04.79, to capture the national title in the event for the second time in three years.

"We came here to run," said Willie. "We came in with the state of mind that all races up until this point didn't matter. All I can say is that my teammates truly did a great job."

Earlier in the evening Willie finished sixth in the men's open quarter, clocking his second-fastest time of the indoor season, 46.17 seconds.

Also producing some big points for the Tigers was junior John Moffitt in the triple jump. A day after finishing fifth in the long jump competition, Moffitt returned in the triple jump and launched a personal record jump of 54 feet, 2 1/2 inches, to place third overall. Senior Traun Smith also jumped in the event, placing 11th with a leap of 51-0 3/4.

Other notable performances from the final day of competition came on the women's side. Clocking a school record time of 52.31 in the 400 meters just a day ago, junior Nadia Davy returned for the finals and again shattered the school record mark, posting a sizzling time of 52.06 to place third.

Junior Nicole Toney, the defending national champion in the triple jump, just missed a repeat performance, finishing second in the competition with her second-best jump this season, 45-2 1/4.

Auburn's Elva Goulbourne barely squeaked by Toney for the event title turning in a mark of 45-2 1/2.

In the women's 800 meters senior Marian Burnett battled with UCLA's Lena Nilsson the entire race, but fell short in the final 20 meters dropping behind Nilsson and Tennessee's Nicole Cook to finish third with a time of 2:06.43.

Sophomore Mallary McDonald rounded out the women's competitors as she turned in a toss of 60-6 3/4 in the weight throw to finish 14th.

The LSU track and field team won't waste anytime returning to action as it begins the outdoor campaign next weekend. Multi-event athletes will compete at the Texas A&M-hosted College Station Multis, March 20-21, while the rest of the LSU squad will run at the SEC Four-Way in Starkville, Miss., March 22.

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