LSU Heads to College Station for Big 12/SEC Challenge
BATON ROUGE – After opening the 2009 season at the Purple Tiger Classic last weekend, the LSU track and field teams will head on the road for the first time as they travel to College Station, Texas, on Saturday to compete in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge hosted by Texas A&M.
The meet will be held at the newly constructed Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium, which is scheduled to host the 2009 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships on March 13-14.
The SEC/Big 12 Challenge will feature three teams from each conference battling alongside one another in a scored competition with the top eight finishers in each event earning points for their league in a 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 format. LSU will join Florida and Ole Miss from the SEC against a trio of Big 12 opponents in host Texas A&M, Texas and Missouri.
Saturday’s action is scheduled to kick off at 2:30 p.m. CT with the preliminary heats of the men’s and women’s 60-meter dash. The field events will begin at 4 p.m. with the men’s weight throw.
“We’re looking forward to a great competition in an event that is sure to give us a taste of what it will feel like to compete at the NCAA Championships,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “It is an opportunity for us to line up on the same track that will host the national meet this year, and it will also be exciting to see two of the premier conferences in the country battle it out.”
The Tigers opened the 2009 season with three NCAA qualifiers at the Purple Tiger Classic with sophomore Walter Henning leading the way with an NCAA automatic qualifying mark of 72 feet, 3 ¾ inches in the weight throw, which ranks No. 2 in the country in the early part of the season.
Henning has already improved upon his previous personal best of 72-3 at the NCAA meet a year ago as his season-opening mark of 72-3 ¾ is also a new school record by more than two feet.
Junior Trindon Holliday kicked off his season by clocking a strong NCAA provisional qualifying time of 6.66 seconds in the 60-meter dash to rank No. 5 in the event nationwide, while sophomore Zedric Thomas posted a provisional qualifying mark of his own with a new personal record of 24-10 in the long jump. Thomas will open up in the triple jump at the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
Among the Tigers seeking their first NCAA qualifying mark of the 2009 season include Jerel Hill (60 meters/200 meters), Gabriel Mvumvure (60 meters/200 meters), Armanti Hayes (400 meters), Will Coppage (long jump), Jeremy Hicks (long jump) and their 4×400-meter relay team.
In addition, touted freshmen Ade Alleyne-Forte of San Fernando, Trinidad, and Robert Simmons of Missouri City, Texas, will make their collegiate debut for the Tigers in the 400-meter dash.
The Lady Tigers opened the 2009 season with a pair of NCAA qualifiers of their own last week at the Purple Tiger Classic as senior Andrea Linton posted a provisional mark of 20-3 in the long jump and junior Katelyn Rodrigue cleared a provisional mark of 12-11 ½ in the pole vault. Linton is set to compete in the triple jump for the first time this season at the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
Other Lady Tigers looking to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the first time this week at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium include Linton (triple jump), Samantha Henry (60 meters/200 meters), Kenyanna Wilson (60 meters/200 meters), LaTavia Thomas (400 meters), Tenaya Jones (60 hurdles), Rachel Laurent (pole vault) and their 4×400-meter relay.
“This is a great opportunity for our student-athletes to compete against many of the premier teams in the country and have the chance to qualify for the NCAA meet,” Shaver said. “It will give us a good idea of where we are at this stage of the game as we continue to move forward.”
After competing in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge this weekend, the Tigers and Lady Tigers will head back on the road next week for their annual trip to New York to compete in the ninth-annual New Balance Collegiate Invitational held at the historic Armory Track & Field Center on Feb. 6-7.
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Contact: Will Stafford