PA speed, college-style: Freshman Vincent chasing NCAA title as LSU’s first 4×100 leg

Published 7:42 pm Thursday, May 31, 2018

There is a reason LSU sought out Kary Vincent Jr. — and that Vincent chose LSU.

He could bring his football skill and Port Arthur track speed to a university that has a championship history in both sports.

“Me being from Port Arthur and setting records, … it wasn’t an adjustment,” Vincent said, asked about making the transition from Memorial High School to Louisiana State University. “Fast is what I am. Fast is what I’m used to. It’s almost meant for me.”

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Almost 13 months ago, Vincent won his second straight 200-meter state championship in the UIL (6A as a junior and 5A as a senior), and he helped Memorial set a state record in the 4×100-meter relay and national mark in the 4×200. Already a few months removed from signing with LSU to play cornerback, Vincent set the fastest leg times among his teammates in both events, running the second 100-meter leg in 9.25 seconds and the 200-meter anchor leg in 20.5 seconds. (His time in the regular 200 meters was 20.71.)

He trained very well for the college level.

“The program [at Memorial] is based on a college training method,” Memorial track coach Darrell Granger said. “I try to prepare these kids to go to college, so when they go to college, it’s not a shock. [Auburn running back and Memorial track alumnus] Kameron Martin has told me we do things in our track practice others have never done.”

Memorial’s achievements in 2017 were outstanding enough to land the runners on the list of finalists for the Press Club of Southeast Texas’ Newsmaker of the Year award, to be presented June 8 during a dinner at the MCM Elegante in Beaumont. (Former Thomas Jefferson quarterback and motivational speaker Damon West and Newton football coach W.T. Johnson are among the finalists.)

So, Granger knew what the Tigers were getting in this Titan.

“It doesn’t surprise me one bit because K.J. was the type of guy, he knew he had it,” he said. “Whatever it took to get on the 4×1, he was going to do it. Most kids that go through football, they say ‘I’m a football player,’ which he is a football player.

But I was so proud of him for going out and helping the track program.”

A year later, Vincent runs the lead leg on a Southeastern Conference-champion 4×100-meter team that will compete next week for an NCAA championship in Eugene, Oregon. The SEC on Wednesday named the 4×100-team — Vincent, Renard Howell, Correion Mosby and Jaron Flournoy — all-conference performers. (Howell and Flournoy won an NCAA title in the relay two years ago.)

This year, the Tigers have remained among the nation’s best in the relay. They topped the season’s national charts with a 38.84-second run in the Pac-12/Big Ten Invitational on March 24, more than a month before Arkansas took over the top ranking with a 38.59-second run while hosting the National Relay Championships.

But in head-to-head competition, LSU lowered its season-best with a 38.76 run to beat Arkansas for the SEC title on May 13.

“I think we’re built for success,” said Vincent, whose father Kary Sr. is a former Texas A&M wideout who coached him in football and track at Memorial.

Built, LSU is after qualifying for the national meet with a second-place run to Florida State in the East Preliminary in Tampa, Florida. The Tigers turned in a 39.16-second run amid weather conditions precipitated by Hurricane Alberto’s approach.

“It was pretty bad weather conditions, but nothing to be worried about,” Vincent said, confident in the Tigers’ chances of a national title.

Vincent faced one weakness at LSU in the 4×200 as he learned how to run a curve, something he said he never did at Memorial. LSU came in second in that event at the Texas Relays, but the 4×200 is not conducted in SEC or NCAA championships.

The NCAA meet in Eugene wraps up a hectic first spring semester for Vincent. With spring football drills in session — Vincent started for team Purple in the spring game — the freshman ran only the 60-meter dash during the indoor season, which a personal best of 6.74 seconds in the Bayou Bengal Invitational. He finished 14th in the SEC Championships.

Then, Vincent made the grade on the outdoor track.

“Just watching him the few times I’ve seen him, I think he’s more confident and competitive. He’s raised his expectations,” Granger said. “When you are a state champion in Texas, you can help in any level.”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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