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LSU Wins Title on Dropped Baton

March 11, 2001

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ When Alleyne Francique ran down Baylor’s anchor, LSU coach Pat Henry knew only that his 1,600-meter relay team had run very, very fast.

He didn’t know that TCU had done the unthinkable and dropped the baton, giving LSU the NCAA indoor track title with the victory in the relay that netted the Tigers 10 points.

The Horned Frogs, led by Kim Collins, had picked up 16 points in the 60 meters with a one-five-seven finish and led LSU 33-24 entering the final event. Four-time defending champion Arkansas had 32 points, but the Razorbacks did not have a team in the relay.

If TCU finished seventh, LSU was mathematically eliminated.

But a few strides after the first exchange, TCU’s Anthony Amantine bumped into the back of Baylor’s Bayano Kamani and the baton clattered to the track.

Amantine retrieved the baton and got back in the race, but TCU could only finish 12th.

``That’s part of indoor track,″ Henry said. ``You’re focusing on your own kids and you just don’t see things like that happening. I just knew we had run 3:04. That was the most important thing to me at that particular time.″

He quickly realized that Francique’s fast finish and the Frogs’ mistake had handed the NCAA Indoor title to his Tigers.

TCU coach Monte Stratton was crushed. ``There’s no way to adequately describe the disappointment,″ he said.

Henry knows the feeling.

A few years ago, his women’s team had a national title in the bag until crack sprinter Peta-Gaye Dowdie was disqualified for a false start. If she had finished the race, he said, LSU would have won.

``Coming up here, we knew one point could be the difference,″ Henry said.

The Tigers won by scoring well in the triple jump and the long jump, often the backbone of Arkansas’ national champions. Walter Davis won the triple jump with 55-5 on his last attempt and finished second in the long jump.

John McDonnell’s Arkansas team got only a seventh in the triple jump and a third in the high jump and the Razorback distance runners _ also a staple for years _ produced only two points in the 3,000 meters and one point in the mile.

UCLA repeated in the women’s division, scoring 41 1/2 of its 53 1/2 points in the field events. The production included 14 in the shot put, eight in the weight throw, eight in the triple jump, seven in the pole vault and 4 1/2 in the high jump. South Carolina was second with 40 points.

The top individual performances belonged to shot putter Janus Robberts of Southern Methodist University, pole vaulter Thorey Elisdottir of Georgia and middle distance runner Patrick Nduwimana of Arizona.

On his first attempt, Robberts threw 70-1, an NCAA meet record and the second-best throw in the world this year. Joachim Olsen of Idaho finished a distant second at 65-10 1/2.

``When I saw that first throw, I was very happy,″ Robberts said. ``I had been stuck at about 66 feet. I had throwers’ block or something.″

Michael Carter, also of SMU, set the previous record of 69-8 3/4 in 1981. Soren Tallhem of Brigham Young tied the record four years later.

Elisdottir set an NCAA and collegiate record when she jumped 14-9 1/2. With the world record at 15-5, she tried three times at 15-5 1/2 and came close on her final attempt.

Elisdottir’s winning vault was 3 1/2 inches better than the records set by UCLA’s Tracy O’Hara, who tied for second this year.

In the 800 meters, Arizona’s Patrick Nduwimana tracked Otukile Lekote of South Carolina until the final lap and then finished strong to win in 1:45.35, an NCAA record and the third best in the world this year.

Nduwimana said he wasn’t aggressive enough in preliminary round, when he had the fourth fastest time.

``The key was staying out of trouble,″ he said. ``It’s the best race I’ve ever ran.″

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