FALSE-STARTING OUT of the NCAA Indoor final a few months earlier really burned for Alia Armstrong. Having to deal with that debacle and get back to work had been truly challenging. As a result, the Outdoor final meant everything: “I have had so much anxiety going into this. I really wanted it, and I just really wanted to redeem myself.”
The 21-year-old LSU soph had led the heats in 12.55, with North Carolina A&T’s Paula Salmon (12.68) and Pac-12 champ Jasmine Jones of USC (12.72) next. Of the majors on the formchart, only Baylor’s Ackera Nugent, picked for 7th, was absent (ankle). Indoor champion Grace Stark of Florida had been out of the picture since she fractured her tibial plateau in a fall at the SEC.
For the final, Armstrong, in lane 5, stared down 10 hurdles and a light rain. At the gun, she exploded out of the blocks and won the race to the first barrier, one of critical importance to her. Also making speedy getaways, Jones and Kentucky’s Masai Russell led the chasers.
Over each barrier, Armstrong’s lead grew, and the only other competitor to pull away from the crowd was Jones, who stayed close enough to the Bengal soph to keep the pressure on all the way until the end.
At the line, Armstrong clocked 12.57 with Jones at a PR 12.66. Russell claimed 3rd in 12.81 while Salmon (12.85) barely edged Texas A&M’s Kaylah Robinson.
It was LSU’s first victory in the event since Joyce Bates won the ’00 title; more notably, Armstrong revealed it was the first rainy hurdles race of her life: “I didn’t worry about any outside factors.”
Explained the victor, “Going into finals, I knew that I had to get out, because if I get out and stay out, there is no touching me. I knew I had to perfect that start. When he said set, I just shot out as hard as I could and I let the rest carry me.”
Calling her victory “therapeutic” after her indoor disaster, Armstrong added, “I feel like I can just breathe. I feel like God just had me wait for this moment right here, so I am extremely grateful.
“I have a ton of different emotions going on right in my head now, and it hasn’t quite hit me yet because my adrenaline is still going. But this is exactly what I envisioned my future to be and I have always been shooting for the stars and I am not going to stop until I get the time that I want and everything else that I want.”
WOMEN’S 100H RESULTS
FINAL (June 11; wind –0.2)
1. **Alia Armstrong (LSU) 12.57 (=8, x NCAA);
2. **Jasmine Jones (USC) 12.66 PR;
3. *Masai Russell (Ky) 12.81;
4. Paula Salmon (NCAT) 12.85;
5. Kaylah Robinson (TxAM) 12.86;
6. **Destiny Huven (Wi) 12.92;
7. *Demisha Roswell’ (TxT-Jam) 12.94;
8. Destinee Rocker (SC) 13.07;
… dq—**Rayniah Jones (UCF).
SEMIS (June 09)
I(0.2)–1. Armstrong 12.55 PR; 2. Jones 12.72 PR; 3. Huven 12.82 PR; 4. Rocker 12.95 PR; 5. ***Micaela De Mello’ (WaSt-Bra) 13.15; 6. Yasmin Brooks (PennSt) 13.17;… dnf—*Yoveinny Mota (Ar);… dq—***Alexis Glasco (CCar).
II(0.5)–1. Russell 12.77; 2. Robinson 12.87; 3. Trishauna Hemmings’ (Clem-Jam) 13.04; 4. ***Jalaysiya Smith (USC) 13.05 PR; 5. Alexus Pyles (OhSt) 13.07 PR; 6. *Talie Bonds (Az) 13.15; 7. *Shaneylix Davila’ (SFl-PR) 13.31; 8. **Shani’a Bellamy (CCar) 13.60.
III(-0.3)–1. Salmon 12.68; 2. Roswell’ 12.93; 3. Jones 12.95; 4. Naomi Taylor (Hous) 12.97 PR; 5. Deshae Wise (TxAM) 13.07; 6. **Aasia Laurencin (Mi) 13.12; 7. Camri Austin (Ok) 13.16;… dnc—***Ackera Nugent (Bay).