Lowe: Final Day of Thrilling SEC Track & Field
First of all, I admit that I am not as knowledgeable about the sport of track and field as I should be or used to be.
But I enjoy watching it, and there is usually no better year to watch it then an Olympic year like this. For the record of full disclosure I have to admit I spent many of my early years at LSU running the hand-time clock for the ancient scoreboard that was a fixture here at Bernie Moore Stadium for years.
So I was expecting a good show Sunday on the final day of the SEC Championship at Bernie Moore, and all the fans that came out were rewarded.
First of all, any event is better when the stands are full, and it was a good, lively crowd at Bernie Moore on Sunday. There is something special when the entire crowd comes to its feet as a race heads into the final stretch.
I’m sure my colleague Will Stafford will have the appropriate adjectives and marks that Kimberlyn Duncan recorded in the meet, but her performances in the 100 and 200 meters was nothing short of spectacular. She won the 100 in 10.96 in an allowable wind and 22.12 in the 200 in a wind-aided event. Who cares if it was wind-aided? The crowd was rocking at the Bernie and cheering on their hero.
Their hero, Duncan, won the 200-meters outdoors for the 17th straight time against collegiate competition. Amazing.
The LSU women probably won the event on Friday and Saturday when 16 athletes won prelims. In all, LSU had 25 chances to score some kind of points, and, for the most part, they did in winning the outdoor championship for the 13th time, eight more than any other team in the league.
The best thing about the win was it happened right here in Baton Rouge. There is nothing worse than throwing a clunker at home, and Dennis Shaver‘s ladies were hitting on all cylinders as they won for the third straight year and five of the last six women’s team titles.
The LSU men’s performance was something to talk about as well, finishing second to Arkansas with individual stars all around as well. How do you beat a team that scores 24 points in the 1,500 meters and 22 points in the 5,000 meters?
LSU’s Barrett Nugent became the first hurdler to win three league titles in a row in the 110 hurdles and despite Larry Rawson’s commentary on ESPN3 that he was “riding the hurdles” a little too much, Nugent wasn’t going to be denied. Also give credit to Tiger Aaron Ernst who got second in the 100 and 200.
There were other great performances throughout the league. How about Florida’s Genevieve LaCaze winning the 3,000 meter steeplechase, the 1,500 meters and the 5,000 meters, the last two events on the same day? Are you kidding? Amazing. She just grabbed a cup of water and then spoke with Lewis Johnson of ESPN3 on the field and was hardly breathing. I can’t make it up and down the steps at Bernie Moore and she won three distance races in 24 hours.
I also just came to the realization that I’ve been around for a while when I hear a roar from the stands below me and there is an athlete clearing the pole vault late in the competition and I see on the events board that his last name is Andreas Duplantis. His dad, Greg, was a star pole vaulter back in I can’t even remember. Andreas is his son. Will Stafford from our office looked at me and asked, “Do you feel old?” Maybe.
LSU used home track, or better put, home bed advantage to score more points than a year ago in both men’s and women’s action and put on a display that makes you think with the right qualifiers and that little bit of luck that is needed, this is a program that can and will compete for national titles next month. Guess what, if the voters don’t move them up to No. 1 after this performance, someone wasn’t watching very closely.
Congrats to all the participants for a heck of a good show this weekend and if you were here with me on Saturday and Sunday, you would have to agree that you saw some of the best track athletes in college this year. Will we see any in London? We’ll wait and find out.