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Ernest Leads LSU Charge in Men’s Sprints
- Updated: 01/15/2014
Always a force in college sprints over the years, the Louisiana State University (LSU) Tigers will be no different in 2014 as, once again, the men are poised to score points at the NCAA Championships in events ranging from the 100m, 200m and 400m to both the 4x100m and 4x400m relays.
This season, junior Aaron Ernest is back as a rising star in collegiate track and field after earning three All-America honors in each of his first two seasons as a Tiger. He returns to the squad as a national championship contender in the sprint double while also leading LSU’s title-contending sprint relay team.
A former World Junior Championships silver medalist in both the 100m and 200m, Ernest is one of the NCAA’s top returning short sprinters expected to feature prominently. He was crowned the SEC Indoor 200m champion while running an indoor personal record (PR) of 20.53secs in the Conference final before earning his first career All-America honor in the event at the NCAA Indoor Championships. He continued outdoor with a pair of All-America honors by placing seventh in the 100m and leading the team to fourth place in the sprint relay at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Ernest sprinted to career-bests of 10.04 wind-aided in the 100m and 20.36 wind-legal in the 200m in his two seasons with the Tigers.
The Tigers have brought back two other members of their All-American sprint relay team to join Ernest. Trinidad senior Shermund Allsop and Jamaican-born sophomore Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake will make up what could be a title-contending squad once again.
Mitchell-Blake was an NCAA semifinalist in the 200m in his rookie season with the Tigers a year ago after running a PR of 20.76 during the collegiate season. He then sprinted to a new PR of 20.62 in winning the silver medal in the event for Great Britain at the European Junior Championships last summer to wrap up his freshman campaign.
Mitchell-Blake will provide the Tigers with depth in the 4x400m relay.
The Tigers have returned a stable of 400m runners who look to score points for the squad in both the open quarter and mile relay. They are led by returning junior All-American Quincy Downing. The former 800m runner registered a PR of 45.87 for 10th place in the national semifinal of the 400m during the 2013 outdoor season while emerging as one of the nation’s top quarter-milers. He earned All-America honors as the lead-off leg on LSU’s 4x400m relay at both the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships.
Also returning to the mile relay pool are sophomores Darrell Bush and Cyril Grayson. Bush set a lifetime best of 46.15 as an NCAA quarter-finalist in the 400m, while Grayson ran his seasonal-best split of 45.99 on the third leg of LSU’s quartet at the NCAA Outdoor Championships a season ago.
Vernon Norwood has joined the Tigers following a two-year stint at junior college power South Plains College in 2012 and 2013. He earned six All-America honors at South Plains while competing at the National Junior College Athletic Association (JUCO) during his two seasons. A three-time NJCAA champion as a member of South Plains’ mile relay team, Norwood captured the NCAA Outdoor silver medal in the 400m as the national runner-up in each of the last two years and set PRs of 20.93 in the 200m and 45.56 in the 400m at South Plains.
Also joining the LSU program is freshman Tremayne Acy with PRs of 10.41secs and 20.98secs in the 100m and 200m, respectively, achieved while he was at DeSoto High School.