CLEMSON, S.C. – Laurie Barton and Trishauna Hemmings proved once again on Saturday why they are two of the nation’s best athletes, as each recorded top-5 all-time marks at Clemson during the final day of the Tiger Paw Invitational. Barton — who entered the day already the No. 4 performer at Clemson in the women’s 800 meters — ran 2:03.91 to set a new personal best since transferring to Clemson. Hemmings ran the 200m for the first time in her career and became the No. 5 performer on Clemson’s all-time list after crossing the line in 23.28. Hemmings’s time produced a third overall standing on Saturday and placed her within the top 10 nationally.
“We expected this from Laurie… she’s in shape to go [even] faster. The thing about Laurie is that you never get any regression. She’s always moving forward,” said Clemson’s Director of Track & Field Mark Elliott.
When reflecting on Hemmings’ performance, Elliott added, “That’s what you get in an athlete. She’s getting better all the time over the hurdles, and today she showed what she can do in the 200. The last person we had that could go all over the place [and succeed] was Natoya [Goule].”
Highlighted by Barton’s terrific performance, Clemson got off to a strong start on the track Saturday, as Andrea Foster and Kamryn McIntosh joined Barton in collecting season bests during the opening heat of the half-mile. In total, the women’s 800m had two athletes earn personal bests, and five athletes earn season bests.
The men also had a strong showing in the 800m, as freshman Carson Tillman ran an inspired race in the opening heat, crossing the line in 1:50.50. Tillman entered the day with a personal best of 1:55.50, set during his time at James Island Charter High School. John Ward — a consistent two-day distance performer — recorded a personal best of 1:51.60 in the 800m Saturday.
While Hemmings was the lone Tiger to collect a personal best during the women’s 200m, six women garnered a season’s best. Aliyah Mallard was the fastest Tiger behind Hemmings, running 24.49 to finish first in her heat.
Clemson’s women came together one final time on Saturday for an impressive showing in the 4x400m relay, as the quartet of Foster, Ken’Naria Gadson, Courtney Williams, and McIntosh ran 3:38.48 to secure the final victory of the day. McIntosh received the baton in third place and ran a blistering 53.43 — her fastest relay split of the season — to capture the victory with a decisive lean at the line.
The women’s triple jump saw Harleigh White lead Clemson’s effort thanks to her leap of 12.43 meters (40 feet, nine and one-half inches), securing a fifth-place finish for the Tigers. Caroline Johnston joined White in having a successful day on the runway, as the sophomore recorded a personal best of 11.81m (38-9) to finish seventh overall.
The women’s 3,000m was fruitful for Clemson, as Lauren Hayes ran under 10 minutes in the event for the second time in her career, while Josie Wirtz ran 9:56.00 to break the 10-minute barrier for the first time in her three-year stint at Clemson. Wirtz was one of three Tigers to earn a personal best on the women’s side, while Michael Smith was one of four to cross the finish line in a PB during the men’s edition of the event.
In the one-lap sprint, Fabian Hewitt and Ryan McCloskey each grabbed season bests, respectively running 21.45 and 22.04 this afternoon.
DJ Ledell was Clemson’s lone entry in the men’s triple jump, surpassing 15 meters on his second and sixth attempts. Ledell’s best on the day was recorded on his second trip down the runway, as the senior leaped to a mark of 15.14m (49-8.25). In the high jump, Anthony Hamilton finished third after clearing 2.11m (6-11) on his second attempt.
Sofia De Coteau and Jessica Johnson were the Tigers’ pair of entries in the women’s high jump, both clearing their opening bar of competition. Johnson cleared 1.57m (5-1.75) on her first attempt, while De Coteau entered the competition at 1.62m (5-3.75), clearing it on her second attempt.
Kentucky’s Abby Steiner set the lone facility record this weekend, running 22.52 in the women’s 200m to become the NCAA’s top performer this season. The previous facility record was set by Ohio State’s Anavia Battle at the 2020 Tiger Paw Invitational, as the Buckeye’s sprinter ran 22.66.
Clemson turns its sights ahead as it prepares to host the 2021 ACC Indoor Championships from Feb. 25-27.
“The past two days were very good, and it was a good indicator of the kind of team we have and the caliber of competition that we’ll go against,” reflected Elliott. “It gives us a great outlook for the conference championship now that we’re two weeks away. Now we just have to make sure we keep rolling in the right direction.”
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