Wild weather, fast times highlight NCAA track

DES MOINES, Iowa – LSU’s Kimberlyn Duncan posted the second-fastest 200-meter time in the world this year, winning her heat in 22.39 seconds before storms halted competition at the NCAA outdoor track and field championships on Thursday.

Florida State long jumper Ngonidzashe Makusha, shooting for his third NCAA title, posted the world’s second-best leap in 2011 at 27 feet, 63/4 inches.

Makusha earlier had jumped 27-51/4, which was third best in the world this season. But his final jump and everything else was postponed until at least today after a series of storms blew through Des Moines.

Two of the nation’s top female sprinters earned a measure of redemption just before the rains came.

LSU’s Semoy Hackett, the favorite in the women’s 100, bounced back from a disastrous qualifying performance in that event by reaching the 200 finals.

Hackett likely would have reached the 100 finals on Wednesday, but she was thrown off when organizers switched the direction of the heat to avoid a headwind. Hackett pulled up 5 meters from the finish, thinking she had already crossed the finish line.

Hackett made Saturday’s 200 finals with a time of 23.03.

“I tried not to bring over the disappointment of (Wednesday) into (Thursday),” Hackett said. “I didn’t make it play a major part in my performance.”

Like Hackett, Texas A&M star Jeneba Tarmoh shook off a miscue in her 100 semifinals race by winning her heat in the 200 in 23.00.

Tarmoh was second in both the 100 and 200 at the 2010 NCAA meet, but she’ll only get to compete for the 200 championship this year.

“Everybody has to experience a little something to get some seasoning in this sport,” Tarmoh said about her false start in the 100 semifinals. “Sometimes things happen for a reason. I’m just taking it as a blessing in disguise.”

Southern California senior Nia Ali, the national leader in the women’s 100 hurdles at 12.74, topped the semifinals in 12.82.

Brittany Borman of Oklahoma won the women’s javelin in 178-2 after finishing second a year ago, becoming the first Sooner to win a women’s national title since 1994.

The Virginia Tech men thrust themselves into the team title picture by sweeping the top two spots in the hammer throw, giving the Hokies 18 quick points.

Junior Alexander Ziegler won with a final throw of 238-6, edging top-seeded teammate Marcel Lomnicky by just more than a foot.

“I know how Marcel feels right now. I’m a little bit sorry,” Ziegler said. “I felt like that last year and it’s tough to lose like that on the last throw. But that’s how it is and I’m glad I did it this year.”

The meet picks up on today with the finals in 100, 400, 800, and 400 hurdles, events that could have significant ramifications for the team title races.

Officials are hopeful the weather will cooperate after storms pelted central Iowa early Thursday and delayed the multievents. A later storm forced a weather delay just before Makusha’s final attempt and halted the decathlon during the javelin throw.

Drake Stadium reopened for the final events just before 10 p.m. local time, but by then nearly the entire crowd had headed home. It’s a good thing they did, because lightning in the area forced yet another delay that eventually led to a postponement a few minutes later.

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