For the first time since 2002, LSU’s top-ranked men’s track and field team are national champions.
The Tigers won five events to compile 84 points to pull away from the field Friday to capture the NCAA outdoor championship at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
LSU, who won its fifth overall outdoor national title, easily outdistanced host Oregon finishing second with 53 points followed by North Carolina A&T (35), Florida (34.5) and USC (33) to round out the top five in the team championship.
“It was a business trip,” LSU track and field coach Dennis Shaver said. “Everyone was focused and took care of one event at a time.”
LSU’s six event titles that also included Tzuriel Pedigo’s title Wednesday in the javelin, was the second most in NCAA history. The Tigers produced the most points scored in the modern era of the event and their 31-point margin of victory was the highest since Arkansas won the 1994 title by 38 points.
LSU’s 4×100 relay team of Dylan Peebles, Noah Williams, Akanni Hisplop and Terrance Laird got the Tigers off and running with a winning time of 38.48 seconds.
Junior JuVaughn Harrison overcome a miss at his opening height to capture his sixth career national championship by winning the high jump at 7 feet, 7 ¾ inches to go along with his victory Thursday in the long jump.
“I’m very proud of my team and what we came out here and did,” Harrison mentioned. “We’ve got a lot of dudes on this team that excel in their events. So to see us score the points we did and win in the fashion we did, it’s something we’ll never forget.”
Harrison swept the outdoor long jump/high jump for the second consecutive meet to go along with his sweep of the indoor titles in both of events in March. His six career national titles ties him with Walter Davis for second on the school list, trailing only Xavier Carter and Kelly Willie with seven each.
“It takes a whole team,” Shaver said. “Everyone in this group worked hard.”
Laird, the meet’s high point scorer with 20.5 points, came within an eyelash of pulling off a sprint triple. After anchoring the Tigers to a win in the 4×100, he overcame a slow start to capture the 100 in a time of 10.05 seconds over Houston’s Shawn Maswanganyi. He was overtaken in the final stages of the 200, though, with Florida’s Joseph Fahnbulleh nipping Laird at the wire 19.91 to 19.94 seconds.
The Tigers put the meet out of reach after the 400 hurdles with a sterling performance from freshman Sean “Squirrel” Burrell who won the event in record time. Not only did he shave off a second off his personal best time to run 47.85, but the Zachary native established a U20 world record, the No. 2 time in school history and fourth best time in NCAA history.
“It’s an honor to just win my event title,” Burrell said. “I run for my city, Baton Rouge is where I grew up. So to become a national champion at this school means the most to me. I kept preaching to myself that I was gonna go sub 48, and I got out today. I knew I could finish strong and when that time popped up I was like ‘oh yeah.”
Williams was unable to maintain his perfection in the 400 when he was defeated for the first time this outdoor season, but his third place (44.93) behind North Carolina A&T’s Randolph Ross (43.85) and Texas A&M’s Bryce Deadmon (44.44) was good enough for six points.
The Tigers also picked up a fourth place showing from freshman Sean Dixon-Bodie in the triple jump with a personal best of 54 feet, 6 inches, which ranks him fifth best in school history.
LSU’s other first-place came on Thursday when freshman Tzuriel Pedigo won the javelin on his last throw with a personal best of 252 feet, 7 inches.
The women’s competition will be completed Saturday. With six of 21 events scored, the LSU women are in seventh place with 10 points thanks to Lisa Gunnarsson’s pole vault title on Thursday. Georgia (20 points) and Oregon (14 points) are first and second in the standings.