Vernon Norwood reaches NCAA track and field semis

Vernon Norwood (The Daily Review/File Photo)

LSU has a combined 23 entries into the semifinals of this year’s NCAA Division 1 Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., including a Morgan City High School alum in two events.
Vernon Norwood, who advanced to the semifinals in the 400-meter run with a second-place finish in quarterfinal action Friday at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds, qualified along with him teammates to compete in the 4x400-meter relay by posting the top time at the preliminary rounds Saturday night at the University of North Florida’s Hodges Stadium.
The Tigers’ relay team of junior Quincy Downing, sophomores Darrell Bush and Cyril Grayson and Norwood, a junior, combined for a season-best 3:02.64. The Tigers topped Western Kentucky in the second of three heats. The Hilltoppers ran a 3:03.02 for the second-fastest time of the day.
Florida, who entered this weekend with the top time in the preliminaries at 2:59.73, finished third overall at 3:03.59 to win the third heat.
Overall, LSU will be sending 10 qualifiers from its Tigers’ track and field teams and another 13 from its Lady Tigers’ squad to Eugene, Ore. The national semifinals and finals will be held June 11-14 at Oregon’s Hayward Field.
In LSU’s 4x400-meter race Saturday, Downing ran a split of 46.25, while Bush clocked in at 45.83, Grayson, 45.86; and Norwood, 44.70.
The quartet already won the NCAA Indoor Championship in the 4x400-meter relay earlier this year.
On Friday, Norwood matched his lifetime personal record in the 400-meter run after clocking in at 45.17 in the quarterfinals. The time was bested only by the 45.09 recorded by Pittsburgh’s Brycen Spratling in the same heat. The duo was racing in the first of three heats in the event.
“I didn’t execute as well as I should have today, but it was enough to get me to the next round,” Norwood said in a news release. “That was the plan coming here, to get to Eugene. I did that, so I’ll take it. Coming close to the end, I think I slowed down a little bit because I knew I had (Florida’s Arman) Hall beat, but I didn’t see (Brycen Spratling) coming up behind me on the inside. He got me a little bit there.
“I just want to get back to training and work on fixing my mistakes over the next couple of weeks so those things don’t happen again when I get to Eugene. I’m looking forward to competing again.”
The Top 12 finishers in each event at the preliminary round advance to the semifinals at the 2014 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which will be held June 11-14 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
Norwood entered the NCAA East Preliminary Thursday with the top time in the field of 48 at 45.17 and finished first in the fourth of six qualifying heats with a time of 45.88 to advance to the quarterfinals. The time was the fifth-fastest of the day.

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