PHILADELPHIA - The No. 2-ranked Lady Tigers opened the 118th running of the Penn Relay Carnival by earning their spot in two Championship of America relay finals while advancing with the fourth-fastest time of the day in both the 4x100-meter and 4x400-meter relays with Thursday's action at Franklin Field.
The Lady Tigers kicked off the relay qualifying in the 4x100-meter relay as they cruised to an easy win in the second preliminary heat with the fourth-fastest time of the day at 44.79 seconds.
They are poised to take home their 13th Championship of American wagon wheel in the 4x100 relay all-time and their first since 2008 as the team of sophomore Takeia Pinckney, senior Semoy Hackett, senior Rebecca Alexander and junior Kimberlyn Duncan already own the NCAA's No. 1-ranked performance in the event this season at 42.99 that was set in winning the Texas Relays title.
Joining LSU in Friday's Championship of America final include Central Florida (43.84), Texas A&M (44.66), Ohio State (44.79), Tennessee (44.98), Texas Tech (45.02), Auburn (45.10) and Houston (45.20). Texas A&M is the three-time defending Penn Relays champion in the event.
The Lady Tigers then wrapped up Thursday's relay qualifying by winning the first preliminary heat of the 4x400-meter relay while running the fourth-fastest time of the day at 3 minutes, 35.38 seconds.
Junior Latoya McDermott, senior Cassandra Tate, junior Siedda Herbert and senior Jonique Day recorded 3:35.38 to finish more than two seconds ahead of runner-up Hampton (3:37.65) in the first race of the qualifying round. LSU advanced to the final with the fourth-fastest time of the day following squads from Oregon (3:33.78), Illinois (3:34.16) and Texas A&M (3:35.14). Rounding out the field for the 4x400 final is Texas Tech (3:36.03), Ohio State (3:36.39), Hampton (3:37.65) and Georgetown (3:37.94).
While the Lady Tigers advanced two relays into championship finals to be run this weekend, junior Laura Carleton took home one of the highest finishes by a Lady Tiger in Penn Relays history in the women's championship 5,000 meters with her fifth-place finish during Thursday's distance carnival.
Carleton, who entered the meet with a personal best of 16:41.09 in the event, slashed 13 seconds from her PR with a time of 16:28.08 in taking fifth place overall in her first championship final at the Penn Relays. Maine's Corey Conner was crowned the 5,000-meter champion with her winning time of 16:01.37.
After Carleton set a 13-second personal best in the women's 5,000 meters, Tigers junior Cullen Doody set a 56-second PR in the men's 5,000-meter final with his time of 14:48.07 en route to a 27th-place finish for the event. He lined up with a previous best of 15:44.84 that was set a sophomore a year ago.
Sophomore Annie Simoneaux was the top performing Lady Tiger in Thursday's field events as she placed fifth in the women's championship javelin with her series-best mark of 143 feet, 1 inch.
Freshman Tori Bliss took home a seventh-place in the women's championship shot put with her top throw of 48-8 ¾ on the afternoon, while sophomore Karen Henning was the top Lady Tiger in the championship hammer throw after posting a series-best mark of 184-7 in the event.
Friday's action at the 118th Penn Relays kicks off on the track with the qualifying round of the men's 4x100-meter relay at 11:40 a.m. CDT. The Lady Tigers follow by competing for their first Championship of America relay title of the weekend with the women's 4x100-meter relay final scheduled to run at 12:05 p.m. The teams will also compete in Friday's field events beginning at 9 a.m.
LSU is scheduled to compete in four other Championship of America relay finals on Friday, including the women's shuttle hurdle relay at 2:15 p.m. CDT, men's distance medley relay at 3 p.m., women's sprint medley relay at 5:20 p.m. and the men's sprint medley relay at 5:50 p.m.