LSU indoor track teams take aim at NCAA Championships

The fourth-ranked LSU women’s track team, which has a NCAA-best 11 indoor national championships, have their sites set winning another trophy when they’re joined by the No. 19 LSU men in the two-day NCAA Championships at the Birmingham CrossPlex.

LSU will be taking 16 athletes – 11 women, five men – to nationals which will be streamed on WatchESPN, and a tape delayed broadcasts of the meet will air on ESPNU on Sunday at 8:30 p.m. CT.

LSU has a total of 16 scoring chances. The women have entrants in the 60-meter dash (2), 60-meter hurdles (2), 200 meters (1), 400 meters, 800 meters (1), pole vault (1), high jump (2), and 4×400 meter relay (1).

The men have scoring chances in the 60-meter hurdles (1), shot put (1), triple jump (2), and mile (1).

LSU has eight individuals headed to the NCAA meet that have previously earned first team All-America honors. Lisa Gunnarsson and Abigail O’Donoghue have earned three All-America indoor honors in their career; Gunnarsson, a pole vaulter, finished first a year ago and fourth way back in 2018 while she competed for Virginia Tech. O’Donoghue has a fourth place finish (2021) and sixth place finish (2019) under her belt in the high jump.

Amber Anning (5th/400 meters) and Favour Ofili (6th/200 meters) both turned in scoring performances last year individually while also contributing to a scoring effort in the 4×400 meter relay (fourth place). Eric Edwards Jr (5th/60m hurdles), Sean Dixon-Bodie (5th/triple jump), Nyagoa Bayak (6th/high jump), and John Meyer (7th/shot put) all registered the first scoring performances of their careers at the NCAA indoor meet in 2021; Meyer was competing for Michigan last season.

Gunnarsson enters the meet as the two-time reigning NCAA pole vault champion; she won indoor and outdoor national titles in 2021. The native of Paris, France, is looking to become this sixth woman in NCAA history to win back-to-back NCAA indoor titles in the pole vault.

Gunnarsson will compete at 6:45 p.m. CT on Friday night.

LSU hurdler/sprinter Alia Armstrong is gunning to accomplish something that’s never been done at the NCAA indoor meet – win both the 60-meter dash and 60-meter hurdles. Armstrong, a native of New Orleans, enters the NCAA meet as the top seed in both the 60-meter dash (7.11) and 60-meter hurdles (7.81). Her time of 7.81 in the 60 hurdles that she clocked at the Tyson Invitational a month ago made her the No. 2 performer in collegiate history behind Clemson’s Brianna Rollins-McNeal (7.78/2013).

Assuming she advances, the finals on Saturday night would be at 7:10 p.m. CT (60m dash) and 7:40 p.m. CT (60m hurdles).

LSU’s only scoring opportunity on Friday will be Gunnarsson in the pole vault. The rest of Friday night’s action will be strictly preliminary rounds with hopes of advancing to the finals. On Saturday, LSU has a guaranteed six scoring opportunities with O’Donoghue (high jump), Nyagoa Bayak (high jump), John Meyer (shot put), Sean Dixon-Bodie (triple jump) and Apalos Edwards (triple jump) set to compete; the women’s 4×400 meter relay will also have a chance to score Saturday night. The Tigers will plan on advancing several athletes to Saturday’s finals on the track to rack up more points as well.

O’Donoghue and Dixon-Bodie, both All-Americans, enter the meet as the No. 3 ranked competitors in their events. They both registered season bests at the SEC Championships two weeks ago to earn their ranking. Dixon-Bodie’s sixth round leap of 54’ 7.25” (16.64 meters) earned him the SEC title. Favour Ofili, the African record holder in the indoor 200 meters, comes into the national meet with the third fastest 200 meter dash time of the season in the collegiate ranks with a 22.46 that she ran at the SEC meet. It earned her silver and moved her into the No. 9 spot on the all-time collegiate list based on performers.

The final two athletes that enter the meet with top five national marks are Katy-Ann McDonald and Eric Edwards Jr. McDonald ran a career best time of 2:20.85 at the SEC meet to earn that ranking, and Edwards Jr.’s time of 7.60 in the 60 meter hurdles from the Tyson Invitational in mid-February has him slotted fourth. Edwards Jr. won the SEC 60 meter title with a time of 7.64.

Additional Individual Qualifiers
Leah Phillips – 60m Hurdles – 7.97 – No. 8
Favour Ofili – 60m Dash – 7.19 – No. 9
Amber Anning – 400m Dash – 51.87 – No. 9
Nyagoa Bayak – High Jump – 6’ 0.75” (1.85m) – No. 11
John Meyer – Shot Put – 65’ 4” (19.91m) – No. 11
Apalos Edwards – Triple Jump – 52’ 10.75” (16.12m) – No. 14
Davis Bove – Mile – 3:56.38 – No. 15

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Tiger Rag News Services

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