Track & Field Begins Indoor Postseason With SEC Championships
Baton Rouge, La. – The nationally ranked LSU track and field program will travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas, for the 2021 SEC Indoor Championships this weekend. The three-day meet will begin on Thursday and run through Saturday evening at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
LSU will take 43 athletes (22 women, 21 men) on the third trip of the year to Fayetteville. This year’s SEC meet looks a little different in regards to competition times. The meet will be split up with women’s only sessions and men’s only sessions due to COVID-19 protocols. The men will compete in the first session each day and then the women will conclude competition each evening. A full competition guide with times for LSU’s athletes can be viewed above.
Action all three days will be streamed on SECN+ and those links can be viewed below this paragraph. Coverage begins at 10 a.m. CT on Thursday and runs through the end of competition at 5:45 p.m. CT. The Thursday coverage can be viewed at espn.com/watch. A tape delayed broadcast of the meet will air on the SEC Network on Sunday evening at 7 p.m. CT.
LSU enters the meet ranked No. 2 on the men’s side and No. 6 on the women’s side. The SEC meet is absolutely loaded with premium competition as another 16 teams are ranked inside the top 25 of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association index ratings. Women’s ranked teams are No. 1 Arkansas, No. 2 Texas A&M, No. 4 Georgia, No. 7 Florida, No. 12 Kentucky, No. 13 Alabama, No. 17 Tennessee, and No. 21 Ole Miss. The men’s meet features No. 3 Arkansas, No. 8 Florida, No. 9 Georgia, No. 10 Ole Miss, No. 12 Tennessee, No. 15 Alabama, No. 16 Texas A&M, and No. 17 Kentucky.
LSU at the SEC Indoor Championships
The LSU women own the most SEC indoor team titles in conference history with 12 ahead of Arkansas (10) and Florida (9). Dennis Shaver has led the women’s team to SEC indoor titles in 2008 and 2011. The LSU men own four SEC indoor titles in program history.
The LSU men have captured 81 event titles all-time at SEC indoors, while the women have taken gold 80 times. Sixteen of the women’s 80 event titles have come in relays and the other 64 titles have been won by individuals. On the men’s side, 13 of the 81 conference event titles have come via relays with the other 68 being won by individuals. The men’s SEC indoor meet dates back to 1957, and the women’s conference meet commenced in 1984.
LSU has three athletes that will be attempting to defend their 2020 SEC indoor titles. JuVaughn Harrison will look to make it three high jump titles in a row at the SEC indoor meet; he cleared a height of 7′ 5″ (2.26 meters) on a last chance, must make bar to win the 2020 SEC title. Terrance Laird won LSU’s first conference indoor title since 2016 in the 200 meters a year ago with a time of 20.52 and he currently has a world leading time of 20.41 in the event this year.
On the women’s side, Lisa Gunnarsson will look to repeat as the pole vault SEC champion. She cleared a bar of 14′ 7.50″ (4.46 meters) on her first attempt to win by virtue of least misses at the winning height. Abigail O’Donoghue is the only other SEC indoor champion on the roster. She won her first SEC indoor title in 2019 at Arkansas with a clearance of 5′ 11.50″ (1.82 meters); she currently ranks No. 2 in the SEC this year with a season best of 6′ 2.25″ (1.89 meters).
In order to score at the SEC meet, an athlete must finish in the top eight of her/his respective event. LSU has a total of 21 athletes in a combined 23 events that enter the meet projected to score. JuVaughn Harrison (high jump/long jump) and Davis Bove (mile/3,000 meters) are the two athletes that are currently ranked inside the top eight of multiple events in the SEC. A full list of SEC rankings can be viewed at tfrrs.org.
JuVaughn Harrison, Lisa Gunnarsson, Damion Thomas and Terrance Laird all head to the SEC meet with the best times/marks in the conference this season. Harrison is entered to compete in the high jump and long jump, both of which he owns SEC leading marks in this year. His season bests are 26′ 6.50″ (8.09 meters) in the long jump and 7′ 5.75″ (2.28 meters) in the high jump.
Gunnarsson’s season best mark of 14′ 10″ (4.52 meters) in the pole vault came on January 16; she is the reigning SEC indoor champion in the event. Laird’s career best of 20.41 came at the Randal Tyson Track Center two weeks ago. For what its worth, Laird has run the two fastest times of his indoor career in the 200 meters at this track so be on the lookout for a fast time Saturday.
Thomas and fellow hurdler Eric Edwards Jr. enter the conference meet with the top two times in the SEC. Thomas’ season best of 7.69 ranks No. 1 and Edwards Jr.’s time of 7.71 comes in at the No. 2 spot. The two of them are looking to score a 1-2 finish in the event for LSU and rack up 18 team points.
Point Scorers Returning
LSU has four seniors on the roster who have scored at each of the previous three SEC indoor meets they have competed at. JuVaughn Harrison has scored a total of 31 points for LSU over the years between the long jump and high jump, 20 of which have come from his two straight SEC indoor high jump titles.
Abigail O’Donoghue has scored 19 points in her career at the SEC indoor high jump with two podium finishes – gold in 2019 and silver in 2020. Thrower Jake Norris has racked up 13 points in the weight throw dating back to 2019 and his performances at the SEC indoor meet are highlighted by a second-place finish in 2020. Damion Thomas has two podium finishes in the 60 meter hurdles at the SEC Championships in 2018 and 2020; all in all, he has accumulated 16 points for LSU the hurdles over the years.
Ten other athletes on LSU’s roster have registered points at the SEC indoor meet. The aforementioned 2020 SEC champions Terrance Laird (200 meters) and Lisa Gunnarsson (pole vault) return with big things on the horizon for them at the conference meet. Other individual scorers returning are Ariyonna Augustine (60 meters/2019), Davis Bove (2020/mile), Eric Edwards Jr. (2020/60 meter hurdles), Thelma Davies (2020/60 meters/200 meters), Symone Mason (2020/60 meters/200 meters), Amber Anning (2020/400 meters), Alia Armstrong (2020/60 meter hurdles) and Nyagoa Bayak (2020/high jump).
LSU Top 10 Marks
Seventeen LSU athletes have registered top-10 LSU marks this indoor season. Abigail O’Donoghue matched her LSU school record in the high jump with a clearance of 6′ 2.25″ (1.89 meters) at the Wooo Pig Classic on January 22. Lisa Gunnarsson bettered her previous LSU school record in the pole vault with a mark of 14′ 10″ (4.52 meters) at the season opening Purple Tiger Invitational.
Davis Bove has made his way into the LSU record book in both the mile and 3,000 meters. Bove set both marks at the Music City Challenge (Feb. 12-13) less than 15 minutes from his hometown of Franklin, Tennessee. He broke the school record in the mile on a Friday night with a time of 3:57.49 before doubling back on Saturday and running a 8:00.34 in the 3,000 meters to rank as the fourth fastest in LSU history. In that same 3,000 meter race, teammate Eric Coston notched a huge PR with a time of 8:02.15 to check in at No. 5 on the LSU list.
Terrance Laird (200 meters), JuVaughn Harrison (high jump), and Monique Hardy (weight throw) have all matched or registered the No. 2 times/marks in program history in their respective events. Laird ran a 20.41 at the Tyson Invitational two weeks ago, Harrison matched his PR by clearing 5′ 7.75″ (2.28 meters) in the high jump at the Louisiana Invitational (January 29), and Hardy notched a personal best of 71′ 11.50″ (21.93 meters) at the Charlie Thomas Invitational on February 6. The other 10 LSU top 10 marks are listed below:
Aliyah Whisby – No. 3 – Long Jump (21′ 4.75″/6.52 meters) – Tyson Invitational
Jon Nerdal – No. 3 – Weight Throw (72′ 11.75″/22.24 meters) – Music City Challenge
Emma Robbins – No. 4 – Weight Throw (67′ 3.25″/20.50 meters) – Music City Challenge
Jake Norris – No. 5 – Weight Throw (71′ 11″/21.92 meters) – Music City Challenge
Alicia Stamey – No. 6 – 3,000 Meters (9:48.41) – Music City Challenge
Nyagoa Bayak – No. 6 – High Jump (5′ 11.50″/1.82 meters) – Tyson Invitational
Noah Williams – No. 6 – 400 Meters (45.47) – Charlie Thomas Invitational
Amber Hart – No. 7 – Shot Put (50′ 8″/15.44 meters) – Charlie Thomas Invitational
Sean ‘Squirrel’ Burrell – No. 7 – 400 Meters (45.57) – Charlie Thomas Invitational
Ashley LaJocies – No. 9 – 3,000 Meters (9:55.22) – Tyson Invitational